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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Players hone skills at HHS camp

Dan Russoman/THG. A young player works on hitting skills during last week’s Blue Devils Baseball Camp.

HAMMONTON—A season-ending three-game winning streak allowed the Hammonton Hot Shots to grab the fourth seed in the South Jersey South Shore Baseball League (SJSSBL) playoffs, which began on July 17.

The streak helped Hammonton recover from a late-season slump as the Shots survived a stretch of six losses in eight games to earn home field advantage in the opening round of the postseason.

The Hot Shots will spend this week in a best-of-three series against the fifth-seeded Absecon Outlaws.

“We had a rough few weeks but were able to play some good baseball down the stretch,” Hammonton manager Sam Rodio Jr. said.

“It’s ‘Feast Week’ in Hammonton and we always play well during that week. Maybe its all the sausage and pepper sandwiches, but historically, we’ve done well at this time of year,” Rodio said.

Whether it was dietary changes or just some better play on the field, the Hot Shots won their final three games of the regular season, including the finale against Absecon at Hammonton Lake Park on July 13.

The 3-1 victory gave the Shots a sweep of the two games the teams played this summer.

“Absecon is a very good team and they always play us tough. It’s going to be a hard series, but I think we’re starting to put things together and we’re playing very well right now,” Rodio said.

Absecon grabbed an early 1-0 lead in last week’s matchup, as Kyle Neri sent a solo home run over the leftfield fence off Hammonton starter Josh Wagner.

The Hot Shots tied the game in the bottom of the first, as Mason Dorsey tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Robbie Petracci.

Wagner settled in after a rough first inning, striking out five in just three innings of work. He gave way to Lucas Hampel, who allowed just a walk and struck out two in three innings. Pete Berenato closed out the win for Hammonton.

“I wanted to give a few guys some work to get ready for the playoffs,” Rodio said.

“Josh [Wagner] has been a workhorse for us this season and he threw well tonight. Lucas Hampel has a live arm and I wanted him to throw and stay loose for [the playoffs] and Petey [Berenato] is what he is. Pete’s had some really good outings for us and a few bad ones, but he’s a solid option for us in every role, starting, coming out of the bullpen or closing, like he did tonight,” Rodio said.

Hammonton opened play last week with a 9-1 win at Egg Harbor Twp. on July 10.

Petracci had three hits in the win, including a solo home run.

Dan Gavlick and Jon Gonzalez each drove in runs in the first inning for Hammonton, and Gino Serechia’s triple and Petracci’s homer sparked a fifth-inning rally.

“Robbie {Petracci] swung really well and he’s been getting hot for us. Gino [Serechia] had a hit and we had some other guys step up like Danny Gavlick and Jon Gonzalez, who I think got to the game about a minute before it started, grabbed a bat and drove in a run,” Rodio said.

Chris Garwood went seven innings for the win, allowing just two hits and one run while striking out 12.

“He [Garwood] threw a great game. I’ve said all season that we have the best pitching staff in the league and guys like Chris are why,” Rodio said.

Hammonton had a another strong pitching performance in its win against Somers Point on July 11, as John Kasper threw a complete game with five strikeouts as the Hot Shots posted a 3-1 victory.

Petracci and Kyle Catanzaro each doubled in the win, while Tom Carroll drove in a pair of runs.


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