PV baseball falls short in ‘marathon’ Group 3 final

Pitchers shine in heartbreaking 14-inning loss

The Group 3 final for Pascack Valley was similar to a marathon. Fourteen innings of battle with Valley relying on typically strong pitching performances by Anthony Sodano and Cole Porter.

Sodano and Porter kept PV in the game Sunday afternoon by throwing seven innings apiece and over 90 pitches each. However they did not come out victorious as Ocean City outlasted the Panthers 3-2 at Veterans Park in Hamilton Township.

This was PV’s first ever appearance in a Group baseball final as it finished with a 24-6 record.

Sodano and Porter held off Ocean City’s hard hitting lineup up until the top of the 14th inning when a hit and an error led to an Ocean City runner advancing to third. A bunt and a misplay plated the run to give the Red Raiders (20-7) a 3-2 lead.

PV showed resilience throughout the contest. This was evident from the first inning on as they went down 1-0 in the top of the first. However, Charlie Saul’s solo home run evened the score at 1.

Again, Ocean City went up 2-1, but consecutive hits from Mason Baronian and Anthony Rossomando set up Dylan Criscuolo’s sacrifice fly to bring in Baronian from third. This tied the game at 2.

Great pitching comes with great fielding. Diving and stretching plays from Baronian at shortstop and Traina at first helped Sodano and Porter keep it at 2-2.

Extra innings was very back and forth, each team trying to stop the other. Although the end did not go Valley’s way, there were moments where they could have won it. PV did bat in the bottom of every inning, so it always had a chance to answer to Ocean City or win the game in extras, but the Panthers could not break through against relievers Matt Nunan and Duke McCarron.

 On one occasion a PV lost his footing and slipped on his way back to third base and was picked off to end the inning. On another, Ocean City was able to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam.

We just kept trying to go out every single inning and play every inning and win [one],” PV coach Will Lynch said. “You just try to hold them, and score, hold them, and score.”

PV had one last chance in the bottom of the 14th but grounded into a double play to end the game.

Despite the tough loss in the final game, this was the farthest any PV baseball team has advanced, and the Panthers set a school record for wins in a season.

 “They enjoy being around each other,” Lynch said, “and they enjoy playing with each other.”