Degen fans 13 as Pburg rally falls a few feet short
The last time Phillipsburg and Hunterdon Central faced off it was a wild high scoring back and forth affair that had a dramatic ending that all Pburg baseball fans remember as if it were yesterday. Today's game was a different style of baseball, runs (and hand warmers) were hard to come by yet there was plenty of drama and suspense up until the final pitch of the game. University of Kentucky commit, Alex Degen, set the tone early by striking out the side with relative ease. Not to be outdone, Alec Ricker had a 1-2-3 inning as well fanning two. In a rare occurence, an opposing team got a hit in the second inning but the crafty Baby Rick wasn't phased as he continued to throw up zeros by keeping the dangerous 2017 Group 4 runner up off balance. In the top of the third, Money Martin reached base on an error. After a stolen base and an error he found himself at 3rd with nobody out. Degen responded by fanning the next three as would be the theme throughout the game. With one out in the top of the 4th, El Morro reached on an infield single up the middle. After a stolen base, pop out and balk, the Landshark found himself at third base and two outs. Jumpin Jack Stagaard then fisted a two strike pitch barely out of the reach of the 6'8" pitcher and landed it behind the mound for an RBI single and Pburg took the lead 1-0. In the bottom half of the 4th Slick Rick came up huge by striking out an HC batter with two outs and stranding the tying run on third base. You could feel the energy and tension in the air on yet another freezing cold day in April. Hunterdon Central then took a page out of Pburg's book and led of fthe bottom of the fifth with an infield single of their own that traveled approximately 13.72 feet. A stolen base, wild pitch, and two outs left the tying run at third again with two outs. Baby Rick made a good pitch but the Cucci, HC's leadoff hitter hit a ground ball just past the diving Money Martin to tie the game. A quick steal and HC was threatening to take the lead. Once again Slick Rick made a great pitch to get the dangerous and speedy Ciuferda off balance but he blooped the go ahead single into center to take a 2-1 lead. Degen did the Degen in the top of the sixth and struck out the side again and momentum was all in the third base dugout with the boys from Flemington. HC tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth and were threatening to score more. With the secret weapon waiting to come in relief, Slick Rick got the final out of the inning and it appeared that Pburg would fall just short....NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND (said in my best Lee Corso voice) !!! There can't be a game recap without mentioning Dolla Bill, can there be? Of course not. Billy Billy lined a 3-1 pitch to right center to lead off the 7th. After a flyout to left, pinch hitter Diefen-walk worked a full count and reached via base on balls. Down to their last strike, Buffalo ripped a single up the middle to load the bases for Garrett Webb. Garrett was a little down before the game when he realized that he wouldn't win the Jersey Sports Zone poll and would finish second. What could lift his spirits more than tying the game. Garrett had other thoughts on his mind. On a 2-1 count Garrett drove the ball down the line to deep right field and the right fielder made a catch on the warning track leaving Machado and Pburg a few feet short of a go ahead grand slam. As it turns out the ghost of Zac Troxell was not with us on this cold wet day at Diamond Nation. In the end, Baby RIck was outstanding keeping the potent Red Devils at bay but Alex Degen was too much for the Stateliners on this day. Pburg will look to get back on track tomorrow at Nazareth.