• Dan Russoman

Late rally lifts Hot Shots past Margate


Hammonton’s Blake Ramos (left) reaches safely underneath the tag of Margate third baseman Dillon Mendel late in last week’s game. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Brett Longo’s two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Hammonton Hot Shots to a 7-6 win against the Margate Hurricanes in an Atlantic County Baseball League (ACBL) at Hammonton Lake Park last week.


The win was the first on the field for Hammonton this season, which had been awarded two forfeit wins against Margate earlier in the year.


“It’s nice to finally break through and beat those guys,” Hammonton manager Sam Rodio Jr. said.


“We’ve been getting closer every game. I thought we were going to win [on July 9] at their place, but that game was called because of a storm when we were ready to take the lead,” Rodio said.


Hammonton and Margate, the only two teams in the ACBL this season, are facing each other 18 times before a best-of-three series in early August will decide the league championship.


“They’ve kind of had our number so far this season, but we’re getting better. Right now, we have a lot of young guys, kids who have never been in the league before, and Margate has a roster with a lot of older, more experienced players. I think some of our guys were a little overwhelmed to start the season, but we’re getting some veterans back and the new guys are starting to figure it out and believing that they can play in this league,” Rodio said.


Veteran Brad Mountain started the game for Hammonton and tossed six strong innings, allowing just two runs.


“Brad’s been around a long time and he knows how to get people out. He’s been tremendous for us this season,” Rodio said.


Mountain’s counterpart on the mound, Margate veteran Jared Lenko, battled for five innings, leaving the game with his team trailing 4-2. Lenko has pitched in the ACBL for more than 20 years.


“He’s one of the reasons I keep coming back,” Mountain said.


“When you see a guy who keeps working, keeps going out there every summer, it inspires me to stay at it,” the 36-year-old Mountain said.


The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth inning as both Mountain and Lenko worked in and out of jams. In the fifth, Margate grabbed a 2-0 lead after Jason Law was hit by a pitch and Nick Dieva singled. Three batters later, Nolan Charlton doubled, driving in two runs.


Hammonton tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, as Stanton Tentkowski led off with a single, and moved to second on Jared Beebe’s base hit.


Dan Gavlick singled to load the bases for Jon Gonzalez, who drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to center field. Later in the inning, Longo singled in Beebe to tie the game.


In the sixth, the Hot Shots took the lead with two more runs, as Branon Kincaid walked and Mountain singled before Tentkowski’s bunt moved the runners up a base. Beebe’s ground ball was mishandled, allowing pinch runner Steve Struble to score the go-ahead run, and with two outs Mountain raced home on a wild pitch for a 4-2 Hammonton lead.


Margate fought back in the top of the seventh, as Hammonton reliever Joe Perna hit Luke Vaks with a pitch then gave up a two-run homer to Monny Strickland, tying the game, 4-4.


In the top of the eighth, another hit batsman, a passed ball and a wild pitch allowed the Hurricanes to score twice to take a 6-4 lead.


The Hot Shots rallied for the win in the bottom of the eighth, beginning with a leadoff walk from Tentkowski. Beebe followed with a single, and Gavlick’s double down the right field line trimmed Margate’s lead to 6-5. The Hurricanes intentionally walked Gonzalez to load the bases, and after Blake Ramos lined out to second, Longo singled, driving in Beebe and Gavlick, who slid under the tag of Margate catcher Dieva for the game-winning run.


“Our guys showed a lot of fight tonight. We never gave up and it was a big win for us,” Rodio said.