KENILWORTH – If Rahway’s goal was to load the bases as often as it could and take its chances offensively from there while also preventing Brearley from reaching base at all, the Indians receive an A-plus for their efforts.
Rahway produced the bases loaded in five of its six times up, while starting pitcher Jayson Gonzalez allowed only three Brearley batters to reach base in his standout complete-game performance.
Rahway scored three times in the top of the second and never looked back in downing Brearley 12-1 in six innings in Saturday morning’s Union County Conference-Valley Division baseball game at Brearley.
The Indians, who banged out 12 hits and had 13 baserunners that didn’t score, won for the third straight time to improve to 7-1 overall.
Rahway leads the Valley Division at 4-0. The Indians have a big Valley Division game at Roselle Park Monday at 4 p.m.
Roselle Park was 7-1 overall going into Saturday’s scheduled home game against Belleville. The Panthers are 4-1 in the Valley Division, with their loss at home to Oratory Prep 8-5 on April 10.
Oratory Prep was 6-3 overall going into Saturday’s scheduled game at Newark Academy. The Vikings are 5-1 in the Valley Division, with their loss at home to Rahway 9-6 on April 9.
Gonzalez, a sophomore right hander, had his fastball working quite effectively. He struck out nine and was also around the plate the entire game, walking just one.
“I was locating my fastball, while my curve was off,” said Gonzalez, whose pitching record improved to 3-0, with two wins as a starter (Bishop Ahr and Brearley) and one (Dayton) in relief.
Gonzalez retired the side in order in the first, third, fifth and sixth. He struck out the side in the fourth.
“I was feeling it right away,” Gonzalez said.
The only batters to reach against Gonzalez were juniors Ivan Rosa twice and Vincent Rappa once. Rosa led off the second with a double to center, moved to third on a wild pitch, and was then driven in by Rappa, who followed with a sacrifice fly RBI to center.
In the fourth, Rosa walked with two outs and nobody on and then Rappa produced an opposite field double to right-center, putting runners on second and third. Gonzalez struck out the next batter looking.
“We leaned on Jayson a bit last year when he was a freshman,” Rahway fourth-year head coach Brad Edwards said. “Handing him the ball now, we don’t question it.
“We expect him to go out and give us a chance to stay in the game. We feel the rest of our guys will do the job behind (and in front of) him. It’s a collective mindset.”
After Brearley – down 4-1 at the time – sent the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the fourth, Rahway broke the game open in the top of the fifth with a six-run inning that included seven hits. Five of them – all run-producing – came in consecutive at-bats.
Rahway’s only run that was not credited as an RBI was the time it scored in the third inning on the game’s only error.
Gonzalez helped his own cause by banging out two doubles and driving in one run.
All nine batters in the starting lineup – Rahway did not use a designated hitter – hit safely.
Dominick Williams drove in the game’s final two runs on an opposite field single to right with two outs in the sixth. After Gonzalez threw his fourth 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth, that allowed the game to conclude after six innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
“With our at-bats we want to have the right mindset – focus on the next pitch,” Williams said. “We have to trust the process.”
Rahway made great strides last year in its first year in the Valley Division after capturing the Sky Division crown in 2015 and 2016. The Indians will seek to go undefeated in the Valley Division the first time around this season when they play at Roselle Park on Monday.
“The seniors in the lineup I coached in middle school before I became the (varsity) head coach,” said Edwards, who is a 1992 Rahway graduate who as a sophomore was a member of Rahway’s 1990 Union County Tournament championship team. “Our guys are taught to keep everything in front of them.
“They need to focus on one thing, make it as small as possible. Our guys are buying into that.”
Edwards said that Williams (1-1) will be on the mound Monday against Roselle Park. He started and got the win (4 and 2/3 innings) in Rahway’s season-opening 9-6 division victory at Oratory Prep April 9. This will be his second start. He took the loss in relief in Rahway’s 4-3 UCC-crossover setback at Union Catholic April 15.
Senior lefty Jason Winters (1-0) tossed a five-hitter in beating crossover foe Plainfield 2-1 at Plainfield Thursday. In seven innings complete he struck out six and walked two.
Jake Ferraro, a junior, is off to a 2-0 mound start.
BASEBALL MORE THAN JUST A GAME TO RAHWAY
AS INDIANS LOOK FORWARD TO BEING PART OF
ANOTHER AUTISM AWARENESS CHALLENGE
When Edwards found out about the Autism Awareness Baseball Challenge he wanted his Rahway Indians to be a part of it immediately.
For the third straight year Rahway is involved, with the Indians scheduled to play South Amboy in one of Sunday’s two 10 a.m. games at North Brunswick’s Community Park.
Last year Rahway beat Dunellen 13-1 and two years ago the Indians fell to South River 14-9.
After Rahway’s team captains talked about how special it was to be involved once again, “we’re playing for the people around us” and “kids are different, but no less,” Edwards expressed his gratitude.
“We want our kids to be more than ball players, we want them to be good citizens,” Edwards said. “When I saw the event I said we need to be involved.
“There’s a much bigger world out there. Not being selfish is important.
“We may not win state championships here, but we can still produce good citizens.”
NOTES: Saturday was the 40th win for Edwards. His 2015 team went 12-11, in 2016 the Indians finished 10-16 and in 2017 they came in at 11-13.
Rahway won the Sky Division outright at 7-0 in 2015 and outright again at 8-0 in 2016. The Indians finished tied for third in the Valley Division last year with Brearley, both fashioning 5-5 league marks.
Edwards’ record going into Sunday’s game against South Amboy is 40-41 (.494).
As the 12th seed, Rahway won a UCT game at Summit last year. This year’s event will be seeded Monday night.
“Winning that county game last year was big for us because it helped put us on the direction this program is going,” Edwards said. “We hope not to be in a preliminary round game (Rahway wasn’t last year) and then we’ll take it from there.”
UNION COUNTY CONFERENCE-VALLEY DIVISION BASEBALL
Rahway (7-1, 4-0) 0 3 1 0 6 2 – 12 12 0
Brearley (2-5, 1-4) 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 1 2 1
Jayson Gonzalez, sophomore RH (3-0)
6 innings complete: 85 pitches
Allowed 1 run on 2 hits.
Struck out 9 (5 swinging, 4 looking) and walked 1.
Retired the side in order in the first, third, fifth and sixth
and struck out the side in the fourth.
Only allowed 3 baserunners: 2 hits (2 doubles, 1 walk)
Josh Temple: 2 and 1/3 (LP) – 1 strikeout, 4 walks, 3 hit batters.
Danny Smith: 2 – 1 strikeout. Pitched a perfect 4th.
Will Nazario: 1 and 1/3 – 2 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 hit batter.
Carmen Marabella: 1/3 – 1 strikeout.
2nd-Ryan Beenders (RBI)
2nd-Andres Garcia (2 RBI)
5th-David Shepherd (bunt single on sacrifice attempt)
5th-Luis Muller (RBI)
5th-Andres Garcia (RBI)
6th-Dominick Williams (2 RBI)
Brearley – None.
5th-Jayson Gonzalez (RBI)
5th-Jason Winters (2 RBI)
5th-Jordan Becker (RBI)
2nd -Ivan Rosa
Brearley – None.
Rahway – None.
Brearley – None.
RAHWAY INDIANS (7-1):
2-Luis Muller, senior center fielder
6-Jayson Gonzalez, sophomore pitcher
8-Jason Winters, senior right fielder
7-Andres Garcia, senior shortstop
10-Jordan Becker, senior catcher
9-Dominick Williams, senior left fielder
14-Matt Houck, senior first baseman
11-David Shepherd, junior third baseman
5-Ryan Beenders, sophomore second baseman
Head coach: Brad Edwards, fourth season
BREARLEY BEARS (2-5):
2-Nick Ferrante, senior centerfielder
9-Mike Ramos, senior shortstop
24-Michael Graham, freshman designated hitter
10-Ivan Rosa, junior third baseman
5-Vincent Rappa, junior right fielder
22-Nick Heuschkel, senior catcher
6-Danny Smith, senior second baseman-relief pitcher
27-Carmen Marabella, senior first baseman
11-Justin Martinez, senior left fielder
12-Josh Temple, starting pitcher (did not bat)
20-William Nazario, relief pitcher
Head coach: Dave Kaplow, first season