Phillipsburg baseball hits all the right notes to continue hot start
In each of the last four seasons, it took the Phillipsburg baseball team double-digit games to record its fourth win.
The Stateliners hit the four-win mark in their 22nd game in 2016, 11th game in 2015, 18th game in 2014 and 16th game in 2013.
On Friday morning, in its fifth game of the 2017 campaign, Phillipsburg moved to 4-1 in style.
Karrick Stansberry homered, Garrett DuPont and Tom Mandry turned in fine defensive efforts and Nick McAuliffe tossed a complete game four-hitter as the Stateliners beat Warren Hills 8-2 at Joseph Steinhardt Memorial Field.
“It was probably one of the better games we’ve played in years,” Phillipsburg coach Dylan Sapir said. “We haven’t played solid baseball yet — even though we’ve won games, we haven’t really played solid baseball defensively and our offense hasn’t been great. But today we kind of put everything together. We saw what I hope we can look like on a more regular basis.”
The Stateliners will head into Saturday’s tilt with Voorhees (5-1) flying high.
It didn’t take long for Phillipsburg to jump on the Blue Streaks (2-4) as it reached base 25 times throughout the day and didn’t strike out a single time.
The runs started coming in the second inning when DuPont came up to the plate with one out and runners on the corners. The senior worked an eight-pitch at-bat, fouling off multiple pitches before finally getting one he liked and driving it to right field for the RBI single.
“I saw fastballs early and then a curveball later,” said DuPont, who was 2-for-3 with three runs scored. “It was just easy to hit because I knew what was happening.”
Stansberry came up next to line another RBI single to left-center field and one batter later, Jason Hawk made it a 3-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to deep center.
Warren Hills got one run back in the bottom of the third and threatened for more, but McAuliffe responded with back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam.
The Stateliners then added on to their lead with a big fourth inning, which Stansberry sparked with a two-run homer well over the fence in right field.
“It felt good today,” Stansberry said. “I was looking for something to drive with runners in scoring position there, looking for a first-pitch fastball and I got it.”
The junior third baseman thought he had his first home run of the season earlier in the week against Pingry, but it got caught up in the wind. This one was a no-doubter.
“(Stansberry) has been swinging a really good bat,” Sapir said. “Everyone’s known that he’s got power and he’s really coming into his own this year. He’s got a lot of confidence at the plate right now. He’s really been swinging a good bat for us. … He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do here.”
Mandry followed by getting plunked in the head (one of three times he was hit by a pitch in his first three at-bats), stole second and took third on a wild pitch before scoring on a wild pitch. Sean Morro later scored on another wild pitch to stretch the lead to 7-1.
“We try to push the envelope a little bit and force some of the issues,” Sapir said. “We look stupid at times when we’re making some bad outs on the bases, but at the end of the day, it was to our advantage."
Chris Bell cracked a solo shot for the Blue Streaks in the fourth inning, but Phillipsburg had an answer again in the next half inning when DuPont singled and later scored on a single from Mandry.
McAuliffe took care of the rest. The junior settled into a groove as the game went on and retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced.
“I think I was speeding my delivery up a little bit more and that got me more strikes,” McAuliffe said.
Sapir thinks McAuliffe can be even better.
“To be honest with you, he wasn’t even as sharp as he can be,” the coach said. “I’d like to see him have a little more command of his fastball, but the other batters typically don’t square him up. … He’s a kid that really has developed a lot the last couple years. I’m not sure that we fully expected him to be this good this quick when he came in as a freshman a couple years ago.”
DuPont (second base) and Mandry (shortstop) helped him out with some defensive gems up the middle
“Our young pitchers are stepping up, our seniors are stepping up and hitting the ball and everyone is just contributing,” Mandry said.
All put together on Friday, it added up to yet another win.
“It’s all about confidence,” DuPont said, “And going into each of these games knowing we’re going to win, not thinking we can win.”
Greg Joyce may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GJoyce9. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.