NEW PROVIDENCE – Visiting Brearley’s initial game-plan was simple, if the pitch looked good jump on Ryan Sherman as early as possible.
That strategy worked in favor of the Bears as they were able to produce a run on two hits to take the game’s first lead before host New Providence came to bat.
The Pioneers, in a bit more patient stance, came right back with three runs on three hits against Josh Temple in the bottom of the first.
Most fans, and this state tournament game was well attended on both sides, probably thought we were in store for a high-scoring affair.
The total opposite occurred.
As it turned out all the scoring was produced and left in the first inning.
Sherman and Temple both settled down and each escaped further damage after allowing hits later in the game.
Dylan Bedder replaced Sherman with two outs in the sixth and went on to get the final four outs his team needed.
All three of the game’s pitchers were sharp, both teams played solid defensively, and each squad made Union County baseball proud by the precision in which they performed.
New Providence just proved to be one more run-producing hit better than Brearley en route to a second straight sectional championship.
Both teams can be very proud of the way they played with a trophy on the line.
Third-seeded New Providence went on to defeat fourth-seeded Brearley 3-1 in Friday afternoon’s North 2, Group 1 sectional state championship game played at New Providence High School’s Paul Miller Field.
New Providence, which improved to 14-12-1, will next face North 1, Group 1 state sectional champion Emerson Boro (21-7) in Monday’s 4 p.m. North 2 vs. North 1 Group 1 semifinal, which will be played at Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest – deep in the heart of Bergen County.
After defeating Dunellen 4-2 in the section final at home and winning North 2, Group 1 as the top seed last year, New Providence then fell to Park Ridge 12-11 in the Group 1 semifinal played at Rutgers. The Pioneers concluded at 20-7.
“This one is just as sweet,” New Providence head coach Chris Brodeur said. “Last year’s wasn’t expected. This year we kept on believing.”
On May 16, in a Union County Conference-crossover game, New Providence defeated Brearley 7-3 at home.
New Providence finished last in the UCC’s four-team Mountain Division standings at 1-4-1. Brearley finished third in the Valley Division at 5-4.
The Bears – much-improved from last year’s 5-16-1 finish – produced a winning season of 14-9.
New Providence has now won five in a row and is 6-0-1 in its last seven games.
Brearley gave up only three runs – the three that New Providence scored Friday – in its final 14 state tournament innings beginning with the seventh inning of its 5-3 home win over Glen Ridge, including Tuesday’s 1-0 win at top-seeded Hoboken and then adding Friday’s six innings vs. New Providence.
Sherman, who allowed just one run on five hits in five and 2/3 innings while striking out six and walking none, earned the mound victory to improve to 4-2.
“Ryan’s a three-year starter who is smart beyond his years,” Brodeur said. “After the first inning it was experience and vision that got Sherman through.”
Sherman retired eight in a row – including perfect second and third innings – after getting hit somewhat hard in the first.
“It seemed like he went to a changeup in the third inning and that kept us off balance,” Brearley second-year head coach Dave Kaplow said.
Sherman struck out the side in his final complete inning, which was the fifth.
“I was struggling with my curve and not hitting my spots,” Sherman said. “I was getting a good feel from my off speed. I’ve gone to a changeup all season.”
Bedder, who started the game at first base, earned a save, allowing no runs on no hits while striking out three and walking two.
“I didn’t have my best stuff, it was up in the zone, but I made some quick adjustments,” Bedder said.
Cleanup batter Chris Kubas, one of two New Providence players with two hits, produced the game-winning hit when he went the other way to right field for a two-run double that scored Nate Scott and Stanton Leuthner.
That was New Providence’s only extra-base hit.
“The first time we played them I saw a bunch of curveballs,” Kubas said. “I’ve been trying to work all year on hitting the ball to right field.”
Scott walked on a 3-1 count with one out and nobody on. He was the only New Providence batter who reached base in that manner.
Leuthner was New Providence’s other batter that hit safely twice, connecting on two singles.
Brearley leadoff batter Ibn McLean hit the game’s second pitch hard and past the New Providence center fielder for a standup double.
Two outs later – which included a fly ball to center on the second pitch and then a pop up to short on the first – cleanup batter Michael Graham drilled a shot to right field that brought home McLean. However, Graham tried to reach second and was thrown out by New Providence right fielder Thomas Friscia.
“We wanted to be aggressive,” Kaplow said. “We wanted to apply pressure early.”
After Anthony Iannacone grounded out to short to lead off the bottom of the first for the Pioneers, Scott worked his walk on a 3-1 count. Leuthner then moved Scott with an opposite field single to right and later stole second to put runners at second and third for Kubas.
On the second pitch Temple offered, Kubas also went to right field to put New Providence in front.
“Offensively, Chris is a real force for us,” Brodeur said. “He’s also an asset defensively, calling the entire game.”
Bedder followed with an RBI-single up the middle that scored courtesy runner Jason Graham for what would be the game’s final run.
Brearley freshman catcher Quinn Lonergan threw out a baserunner attempting to steal second for the inning’s second out. Temple followed with the first of his two strikeouts to end the first.
To keep the score at 3-1, Temple did quite well to get out of jams in the third and fifth innings. New Providence had runners on second and third with one out in the third when Temple got Kubas to pop up to third and then Bedder to ground out to short. The Pioneers had first and third with two outs in the fifth when Temple retired Bedder on a strikeout swinging.
Temple went the distance, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out two, walking one and hitting one batter – Iannacone in the helmet.
“I was really proud of the job Josh did,” Kaplow said. “He had nice command of his fastball and slider. He just had one shaky inning.
“We planned to ride him for as long as we could and he stayed with us the whole game.”
In the top of the sixth Brearley had a runner on first and two outs and Graham coming up for the third time. Gus Carreto just singled past the New Providence third baseman to reach first after Sherman retired the inning’s first two batters.
Graham was 2-for-2 off Sherman, with an RBI-single in the first and a double in the fourth. Although Sherman had a low pitch count of 65, Brodeur felt this was the time to bring in Bedder and have him face Graham. Bedder spent the past two innings warming up when New Providence was at bat.
Bedder did not get Graham, he walked him, but he struck out the next Brearley batter to end the inning.
Brearley had the tying run at the plate twice in the seventh, with Bedder responding with his other two strikeouts.
So now New Providence gets another shot at trying to reach the Group 1 state championship game – this season for the first time in 15 years.
In last year’s Group 1 semifinals the Pioneers traveled south. On Monday they will be heading north.
“I like going to places I’ve never been to before,” Brodeur said of his team venturing to Demarest to try to win its next state tournament game.
New Providence last reached the Group 1 final in 2004, falling to New Milford, and last won it in 1998, defeating Middlesex.
“This was a huge step,” Kubas said. “Last year was a heartbreaking loss to Park Ridge, but now we have a great chance to redeem ourselves.”
New Providence was the first team to beat UCC-Watchung Division outright champion Cranford back on April 12 – 4-2 at Cranford – when the Cougars were 5-0. New Providence also won at Group 4 Union 10-6 on May 3.
“After beating those teams we know we can compete against anyone in Group 1,” Kubas said.
Brearley had a four-game winning streak snapped, but can look to the future brightly. Five of its nine starters vs. New Providence were non-seniors.
“This was a great year, we had a lot of fun,” Kaplow said. “Did I think back when the season began that we would reach the state final, no. I didn’t expect that.
“However, we swung the bats well up and down the order and got a lot of key hits. We finished games as opposed to not finishing them last year.”
Brearley was seeking its first sectional championship since 2009 when the Bears captured Central Jersey, Group 1 en route to reaching Toms River East for the Group 1 final against Park Ridge.
NORTH 2, GROUP 1 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
AT NEW PROVIDENCE HIGH SCHOOL’S PAUL MILLER FIELD
4-Brearley (14-9) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 1 5 1
3-New Providence (14-12-1) 3 0 0 0 0 0 x – 3 7 0
Both teams left five runners on base.
BREARLEY STARTING PITCHER:
LP-Josh Temple, senior RH, (3-3, 3.79 ERA)
6 innings complete, 86 pitches
Pitch count: 1-22. 2-11. 3-15. 4-10. 5-19. 6-9. Total: 86.
3 runs (all earned) on 7 hits
2 strikeouts (both swinging), 1 walk, 1 hit batter
Pitched 1-2-3 innings in the second and sixth.
NEW PROVIDENCE STARTING PITCHER:
WP-Ryan Sherman, senior RH, (4-2, 1.98 ERA)
5 and 2/3 innings, 65 pitches
Pitch count: 1-11. 2-9. 3-12. 4-7. 5-17. 6-9. Total: 65.
1 run (earned) on 5 hits
6 strikeouts (2 swinging and 4 looking), 0 walks, 0 hit batters
Pitched 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.
Retired 8 in a row from second to fourth innings.
NEW PROVIDENCE RELIEF PITCHER:
Dylan Bedder, senior RH, earned a save
1 and 1/3 innings, 34 pitches
Pitch count: 6-11. 7-23. Total: 34.
0 runs on 0 hits
3 strikeouts (2 swinging, 1 looking), 2 walks, 0 hit batters
Bedder retired four of the six batters he faced.
Brearley – Michael Graham, Antonino Principato, Gus Carreto.
New Providence – Stanton Leuthner (2), Dylan Bedder,
Anthony Iannacone, Jonathan Kubas, Chris Kubas.
Brearley – Ibn McLean, Michael Graham.
New Providence – Chris Kubas.
Brearley – None.
New Providence – None.
Brearley – None.
New Providence – None.
BREARLEY HITS (5) IN ORDER:
11-Ibn McLean, double past center fielder on game’s second pitch.
24-Michael Graham, RBI-single to right in first and out at 2B on 9-6 relay.
Made the score 1-0 Dayton.
24-Michael Graham, standup double in fourth after ball hit over CF’s head.
1-Antonino Principato, single to center in fifth.
34-Gus Carreto, single past third baseman in sixth.
NEW PROVIDENCE HITS (7) IN ORDER:
27-Stanton Leuthner, opposite field single to right in first
55-Chris Kubas, opposite field 2-RBI double past right fielder in first.
The game-winning hit – made the score 2-1 New Providence.
15-Dylan Bedder, RBI-single up the middle
Insurance run made the score 3-1 New Providence.
34-Anthony Iannacone, single to left field in third.
27-Stanton Leuthner, single to left field in third.
9-Jonathan Kubis, opposite field single to right in fourth.
55-Chris Kubas, infield single to second in fifth, beats 4-3 throw.
DEFENSIVE GEMS BY BREARLEY:
* Brearley second baseman Antonino Principato dove to his right to glove a hard hit ball by Chris Kubas and almost threw him out at first with one out in the fifth.
* Brearley right fielder Vincent Rappa dove full body straight ahead to catch a ball hit by Jeffrey Policarpio with one out in the sixth.
11-Ibn McLean, sophomore, left field
10-Ivan Rosa, senior, shortstop
34-Gus Carreto, sophomore, center field
24-Michael Graham, sophomore, first base
5-Vincent Rappa, senior, right field
22-Anthony Locorriere, senior, third base
19-Quinn Lonergan, freshman, catcher
1-Antonino Principato, junior, second base
12-Josh Temple, senior, pitcher
3-NEW PROVIDENCE PIONEERS:
34-Anthony Iannacone, senior, center field
6-Matthew Marchesano, senior, pinch runner
3-Nate Scott, junior, second base
27-Stanton Leuthner, senior, shortstop
55-Chris Kubas, senior, catcher
22-Jason Graham, sophomore, courtesy runner
15-Dylan Bedder, senior, first base-pitcher
19-Aidan Donnelly, junior, first base
42-Jack Connor, senior, third base
2-Jeffrey Policarpio, sophomore, left field
9-Jonathan Kubis, senior, designated hitter
29-Thomas Friscia, senior, right field
Did not bat:
5-Ryan Sherman, senior, pitcher