• Dan Russoman

Margate sweeps Hammonton


Hammonton first baseman Dan Gavlick races to first base to retire Margate runner Jason Law (21) during last week’s championship series. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Duke McCarron tossed a two-hit shutout, striking out seven in five innings of work as the Margate Hurricanes clinched the Atlantic County Baseball League (ACBL) title with a 10-0 win against the Hammonton Hot Shots on August 10 at Hammonton Lake Park.


The title was the 25th ACBL championship for Margate, which last won it in 2018.


The Hurricanes used the long ball to sweep the best-of-three championship series, belting seven home runs in the series.


“They [Margate] swung the bats very well. I thought we had a chance to win the series, but they just hammered us. They’re a very good team,” Hammonton manager Sam Rodio Jr. said.


The series was a matchup of the only two teams in the ACBL this season. Seven other teams from 2020 defected to the newly-formed Jersey Shore Youth Baseball League this summer.


“It wasn’t the best scenario for the league, but we made the most of it,” Rodio said.


In last week’s championship series, Margate was able to combine solid pitching with a powerful lineup to outscore Hammonton 23-3 in the two games.


In the opener, Hammonton grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Margate tied the game in the bottom of the frame and took control with a four-run rally in the third.


Stanton Tentnowski led off the game with a single, then stole second before Jared Beebe walked. A wild pitch advanced Tentnowksi to third, and he and Beebe scored on Jon Gonzalez’s one-out single. After GianCarlo Palmieri walked, Margate starter Jared Lenko was able to escape any further trouble, coaxing a double-play ground ball off the bat of Steve Brady.


The Hurricanes tied the game in the bottom of the first when Nolan Charlton walked and later scored on Eric Fitzgerald’s home run.


Hammonton regained the lead in the second, as Joe Perna reached on an error to start the inning before Branon Kincaid was hit by a pitch. Perna stole second and moved to third on a passed ball, then scored when he raced home on a wild pitch.


“That was a good read [by Perna]. He saw he had a chance to score and he went for it,” Rodio said.


With two outs, Beebe singled and Dan Gavlick was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but once again Lenko worked out of trouble, retiring Gonzalez on a ground ball to short.


“That was tough, leaving the bases-loaded. I think if we get a few hits there and have a big inning, maybe it’s a different game,” Rodio said.


Once again, Margate bounced back, as Sam Daggers launched a two-run homer off Brady to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead.


In the third, Brady allowed five-straight hits to start the inning. With two on, Dillon Mendel singled in a run and Jason Law followed with a line-drive home run to right field, putting Margate ahead 8-3.


Hammonton stranded a runner in the fourth, but failed to produce any more runs in the game.


In the bottom of the fifth, Margate sealed the win with five more runs, taking advantage of three walks and two hit batters.


Margate’s power was on display again in the deciding game of the series, as Monny Strickland’s sole homer in the top of the first staked the Hurricanes to an early 1-0 lead.


After Hammonton stranded a pair of runners in the bottom of the first, Margate added a run in the second on Brody Levin’s RBI single.


Hammonton was able to put runners on base in the second and third innings, but failed to produce a run.


“We never strung together a few hits,” Rodio said.


The Hot Shots were held in check by McCarron, a 16-year-old from Ocean City who is committed to the University of Maryland. McCarron mixed his pitches well throughout the game, and was able to limit the damage when Hammonton reached base.


In the fourth, Margate broke the game open when Jim Pasquale and Law hit back-to-back home runs off Pete Berenato to start the inning, then added two more runs on an error and a wild pitch.


In the fourth, Hammonton left two more runners on base, while Margate sealed the win when Levin hit a grand slam, giving the Hurricanes a 10-0 lead.


McCarron retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth to give Margate the championship.


“I’m proud of our guys. We had a very young team this year, with a lot of guys never having played in the league before, and they fought hard and improved the whole season,” Rodio said.