Westfield baseball stymied by Hunterdon Central in Group 4 final; Blue Devils conclude 19-10

PHOTOS BY JR PARACHINI – Westfield senior Cory Hiltz is recognized by teammates as he is taken out of his last high school game.
Westfield produced a solid 19-10 season that included 5-4 in the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division.

HAMILTON – Westfield senior left hander Cory Hiltz, the only public school pitcher to beat Hunterdon Central, dominated the Red Devils at Diamond Nation back on April 16.
On Monday night it was Hunterdon Central senior right hander Alex Degen’s turn to be just as devilish.
Degen limited the Blue Devils to just three hits – all singles, with the first two hit the opposite way – en route to pitching Hunterdon Central to its second state championship in three years and the program’s fifth overall.
Hunterdon Central scored one run in the first, added four big runs in the fourth and tacked on two more in the seventh to blank Westfield 7-0 in Monday night’s Group 4 state championship baseball game played for the first time at Bob DeMeo Field at Veterans Park.
Hunterdon Central won its final 12 games to finish 28-2. Westfield had a five-game winning streak snapped and concluded at 19-10.
Degen, who on Tuesday will leave for the University of Kentucky – where he will pitch in college – mixed a high 80s fastball with a dipping off-speed curve to fashion eight strikeouts, one walk and two hit batters in a standout, 95-pitch performance.
Hunterdon Central is now 5-1 in the Group 4 final, while Westfield – still seeking its first state championship – fell to 0-3.
Hunterdon Central fell to Millburn 10-5 in last year’s final at Toms River North. The year before the Red Devils defeated Morristown 4-2 in the final played at Toms River South.
Westfield lost to Manalapan 29-14 at Toms River South in the 2011 final and then dropped an 8-1 decision to Eastern in the 2013 championship game at Toms River North.
Brewster had his ace on the mound, with Hiltz sporting an 8-0 record and 1.50 ERA. Hiltz went the distance in beating defending champion Millburn in the North 2, Group 4 final. His line against Hunterdon Central two months ago was a six-hitter, with eight strikeouts and no walks.
Hiltz threw 27 pitches in the first inning, giving up a run on two hits. Hunterdon Central stole the first of its five bases in the frame with Tyler Cassella scoring what would be the game-winning run on a two-out, two-strike, hard-hit single to left produced by Luke Longo. Cassella hit an opposite field single to left and then stole second with two outs.
Hiltz rebounded to put up zeros the next two innings, including a perfect second that consisted of only seven pitches.
However, Hiltz got in trouble again in the fourth. What looked like a perfectly placed off-speed pitch for strike three to lefty-swinging Peter Cosentino was called ball three. On the very next pitch, Cosentino drilled a shot deep to right-center that plated two runs to increase HC’s lead to 3-0.
Hiltz, who will continue pitching in college at Monmouth University, threw 40 pitches in the fourth to bring his total to 95. An 11-pitch at-bat to designated hitter David Cucci resulted in a sacrifice fly RBI to right to make it 5-0.
There were other eight-pitch and nine-pitch at-bats by Hunterdon Central batters who kept on fouling off pitches, making Hiltz work more than he would have liked to.
“I thought Cory was still fine after the third, but the fourth inning did him in,” Brewster said.
Hunterdon Central scored four runs on two hits, one walk and one Westfield error in the top of the fourth to pretty much put the game away, although the Blue Devils still had four at-bats remaining.
Hiltz (8-1) came out in the fifth, going four and one-third innings and throwing 106 pitches. He allowed five runs on seven hits, while striking out four and walking two.
Westfield junior right hander Michael Carlone finished, going 2 and 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on two hits and striking out one and walking one.
Degen finished his senior season with an 8-0 record and an ERA under 1.00. The only Westfield batters that hit safely against him were leadoff batter Matt McIntyre with an opposite field single to left with two outs in the third, Andrew Caminiti with an opposite field single to right with two outs in the fifth and McIntyre again in the seventh with a two-out, two-strike single to center.
Degen hit Matt Manning twice.
Degen’s two biggest outs came in the first when he retired Westfield cleanup batter Jake Vall-Llobera on a ground ball to second with a runner on third and two outs and in the third when he got No. 3 batter Chris Wagner in the same fashion – a ground ball to second – with runners on second and third and two outs. Both times Degen kept the score 1-0 by retiring Westfield’s two big lefty bats.
“We scouted him and prepared, but had no luck against him,” Brewster said. “The velocity on his fastball was up there and his curveball had us fooled at times.”
Brewster is the third winningest coach in Union County history behind longtime retired mentors Ray Korn (651 wins) and Gordon LeMatty (641). Brewster is at 630 wins after just completing his 36th season at the helm of the Blue Devils.
A 22-win season next year would make him No. 1 in Union County.
When asked if he would be back for a 37th season in 2019, this is how he answered: “probably, but it might be my last.”
Hunterdon Central second-year head coach Kevin Cuozzi experienced his first state championship at the helm of the Red Devils. He took over last year, succeeding Mike Raymond, the school’s athletic director. Raymond led HC to its 2016 crown and was named the state’s Coach of the Year.

GROUP 4 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
AT BOB DeMEO FIELD AT VETERANS PARK
CJ-Hunterdon Central (28-2) 1 0 0 4 0 0 2 – 7 9 2
N2-Westfield (19-10) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 3 2

WINNING PITCHER:
Hunterdon Central senior RH Alex Degen (8-0)
7 innings complete, 95 pitches
0 runs on 3 hits; 8 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 hit batters.
Degen threw a perfect inning in the second on just eight pitches.

LOSING PITCHER:
Westfield senior LH Cory Hiltz (8-1)
4 and 1/3 innings, 106 pitches
5 runs on 7 hits; 4 strikeouts, 2 walks
Hiltz threw a perfect inning in the second on just seven pitches.

TOP FIRST:
3-K1 swing 0-2 (3)
1-opposite field single to left 1-2 (4)
10-FO deep 9, 1-2 and 1 foul (5)
1-stolen base, 2nd 2 outs
30-hard hit RBI-single to LF, 2-2 and 1 foul (6)
1 scores and Hunterdon Central leads 1-0.
19-Courtesy runner – Bryce Totten
27-K2 swing (high fastball), 2-2 and 4 fouls (9)
1 run, 2 hits, 0 E, 1 LOB. 27 pitches: 2Ks, 0BBs.

BOTTOM FIRST: 1-0 HC
6-BB1, 3-1 (5)
5-Pop up 4 (1)
6-stolen base (off speed pitch), 2nd 1 out
23-Line out 6, 0-1 (2)
WP – 3rd and 2 outs.
21-GO 4-3, 0-1 (2)
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 E, 1 LOB. 10 pitches: 0Ks, 1BB.

TOP SECOND: 1-0 HC
24-GO 4-3 (1)
18-K3 swing (FB), 1-2 (4)
9-GO 5-3, 0-1 (2)
Game’s first 1-2-3 – 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 E, 0 LOB.
7 pitches: 1K, 0 BBS. 34 pitches total.

BOTTOM SECOND: 1-0 HC
9-GO 3-1, 0-1 (2)
2-FO 8, 0-1 (2)
3-GO 6-3, 2-1 (4)
Degen first 1-2-3. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 E, 0 LOB.
8 pitches: 0Ks, 0 BBS. 18 pitches total.

TOP THIRD: 1-0 HC
2-GO 6-3, 2-2 (5)
3-infield single, beats 4-3, 1-2 and 1 foul (5)
Nice backhand grab by second baseman to stop ball.
3-stolen base, 2nd 1 out
1-Pop up 4, 3-2 (6)
2nd, 2 outs
10 – 4-6-3-5 fielder’s choice (ruled infield single?)– out at third
2-2 (5)
3 – hesitated.
0 runs, 2 hits, 0 E, 1 LOB. 19 pitches: 0Ks, 0BBs. 55 pitches total.

BOTTOM THIRD: 1-0 HC
20-K1 swing, 0-2 (3)
1-K2 looking (off speed), 0-2 (3)
Retired 8 straight.
6-opposite field single to left past 3B, 2-1 (4)
5-(E-3) foot off base from 5-3 throw, 3-2 (6)
2nd and 3rd, 2 outs
23-GO 4-3, 0-2 (3)
0 runs, 1 hit, 1 E, 2 LOB. 19 pitches: 2Ks, 0BBs. 37 pitches total.

TOP FOURTH: 1-0 HC
30-single to LF (2-for-2), 2-2 and 1 foul (6)
19 courtesy runner Bryce Totten.
27-FO 7, almost 7-3 DP, 2-1 (4)
19-stolen base, 2nd 1 out. HC 3rd stolen base.
24-BB1, 3-1 (5)
1st and 2nd, 1 out.
18-2-run double to R-C, right in front of fence to left of 350 sign,
1-2 and 2 fouls (6)
(pitch before looked like an off speed strike for strike 3, ump called ball 3)
Hunterdon Central leads 3-0.
9-infield single in front of catcher and (E-2) (1)
2nd and 3rd 1 out
WP – run scores
Hunterdon Central leads 4-0.
2-Sac fly RBI 9, 3-2, 5 fouls (11)
On 11th pitch of at-bat and 33rd pitch of inning.
Hunterdon Central leads 5-0.
3-infield single, beats 5-3 throw, (1).
3-stolen base, 2nd and 2 outs. HC’s 4th stolen base.
1-K4 look, 3-2 (6)
4 runs, 2 hits, 1 E, 1 LOB. 40 pitches: 1K, 1BB. 95 pitches total.

BOTTOM FOURTH: 5-0 HC
21-Line out 8 (1)
9-(E-6, bobbled grounder), 0-1 (2)
2-HBP 1, 3-1 (5)
1st and 2nd, 1 out
3-K3 swing (off speed), 2-2 (5)
20-GO 1-3 (1)
0 runs, 0 hits, 1E, 2LOB. 14 pitches: 1K, 0BBs, 1HBP. 51 pitches total.

TOP FIFTH: 5-0 HC
10-FO 8, 0-1 (2)
30-BB2, 3-2 and 3 fouls (9)
19 courtesy runner – Bryce Totten.
Hiltz done. 4 and 1/3 innings and one baserunner (walk), 106 pitches.
5 runs, 7 hits / 4 strikeouts, 2 walks.
Michael Carlone (No. 18) now pitching for Westfield.
1st and one out.
19 stolen base – HC’s 5th stolen base.
2nd and 1 out.
27-Pop up 5, 1-0 (2).
2nd and 2 outs.
24-FO deep 7, 3-2 and 1 foul (7)
Carlone: 0R, 0H, 0K, 0BB. 9 pitches.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0E, 1LOB.

BOTTOM FIFTH: 5-0 HC
25-(Jack Cifelli-lefty bat, PH) K4 swing (2-3),
1-2 and 2 fouls (6)
6-Foul out 5 (1)
5-opposite field single to RF, 2-0 (3)
1st and 2 outs
WP – 2nd and 2 outs
23-K5 swing, 2-2 (5)
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 E, 1 LOB. 15 pitches: 1K, 0BB. 66 pitches total.

TOP SIXTH: 5-0 HC
18-BB1, 3-2 (6)
5 Chris Tyerech – pinch runner
9-Pop up 5, 1-2 (4)
1st and 1 out.
2-3-6 double play (1)
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 E, 0 LOB. 11 pitches: 0Ks, 1BB. 20 pitches total.

BOTTOM SIXTH: 5-0 HC
21-K6 look, 0-2 (3)
9-K7 swing (2-3), 1-2 (4)
2-HBP 2 (1)
3-Go 1-3, 1-1 (3)
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 E, 1 LOB. 9 pitches: 2Ks, 0 BB, 1HBP. 77 pitches total.

TOP SEVENTH: 5-0 HC
3-K1 swing, 2-2 (5)
1-single to RF, 0-1 (2)
1st and 1 out
10-(E-4) 2B drops 6-4-3 DP attempt, 1-1 (2)
1st and 2nd and 1 out
Passed ball – 2nd and 3rd and 1 out
30-2-run single to LF, 3-1 (5)
Hunterdon Central leads 7-0.
19 courtesy runner – Bryce Totten.
1st and 1 out.
27-FO 8, 1-1 (3)
1st and 2 outs.
19-stolen base. HC’s 5th stolen base.
24-GO 3, 1-2 (4)
2 runs, 2 hits, 1 E, 1 LOB. 21 pitches: 1K, 0BB. 41 pitches total.

BOTTOM SEVENTH: 7-0 HC
4-(pinch hitter – Ben Cappiello) GO 3-1, 3-2 (6)
1-K8 swing, 1-2 (4)
6-single to CF, 1-2 (4)
5-GO 4-3, 1-2 (4)
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 E, 1 LOB. 18 pitches: 1K, 0BB. 95 pitches complete.

Alex Degen (7-0 or 8-0) 7IP complete, 95 pitches.
3-hitter – 3 singles, first two opposite field
8Ks, 1BB, 2HBP

CJ-HUNTERDON CENTRAL RED DEVILS:
3-Garrison LeGros, senior shortstop
1-Tyler Cassella, sophomore second baseman – lefty bat
10-Colin Mason, senior right fielder
30-Luke Longo, junior catcher
27-Pete Cosentino, senior first baseman
24-Pete Ciuffreda, junior center fielder – lefty bat
18-Matt Taylor, senior third baseman – lefty bat
9-Dan Icaza, senior left fielder
2-David Cucci, junior designated hitter
31-Alex Degen, senior (RH) pitcher (6-0) (did not bat)

N2-WESTFIELD BLUE DEVILS:
6-Matt McIntyre, junior left fielder – lefty bat
5-Andrew Caminiti, junior shortstop
23-Chris Wagner, senior first baseman – lefty bat
21-Jake Vall-Llobera, senior catcher – lefty bat
9-Jake Lerie, senior right fielder
2-Matt Manning, senior third baseman
3-Mike Knapp, senior second baseman
20-Matt Barmakian, senior designated hitter
1-Steve Barden, senior center fielder
10-Cory Hiltz, senior LH starting pitcher (8-0) (did not bat)
18-Michael Carlone, junior RH relief pitcher (did not bat)

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