By Rob Potter
MARLBORO A combination of good pitching and defense enabled the Marlboro Dukes to continue their season.
On Sunday afternoon, Marlboro used a strong performance by starting pitcher Rich Morris and a few timely hits to register a 3-2 win against the visiting Sullivan West Bulldogs in a Section IX Class B baseball quarterfinal at Jack Kroh Field.
No. 2 seed Marlboro (18-6) will meet John S. Burke Catholic High School in today’s semifinal round. SW, the seventh seed in the tournament, ended its season with a 12-8 record.
Morris recorded 12 strikeouts in six innings. Mike Surman struck out the side in the top of the seventh to earn the save for the Dukes.
Marlboro scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With teammate Mike Garitta at first base, Lucas Bianco bunted the ball toward the pitcher’s mound. SW pitcher Brad Reimer fielded the ball and quickly threw it to shortstop Ryan Alsdorf to force out Garitta at second base.
But Bianco reached first base safely on the play and then stole second base as Pete Guido was batting. Guido reached base on an infield hit to put runners at the corners with one out.
Reimer then struck out Sean Cunningham for the second out of the frame.
Moments later, Bianco scored on a passed ball to break the 2-2 tie. Bianco scored all three of the Dukes’ runs in the contest. In the bottom of the first, he led off with a single and scored when Cunningham grounded out to second base. In the bottom of the third, Bianco hit a one-out single to center field and scored on Cunningham’s ground-rule double to right center.
The Bulldogs evened the score at 2-2 in the top of the fourth. Reimer led off with a bloop single to right field and the next batter, Mark Tesseyman, blasted a towering home run over the center field fence. Tesseyman and Jeremy DeGori both went 2-for-3 to pace the SW offense.
“We had good pitching and defense,” Marlboro Coach Dave Onusko said. “Early in the season, we were struggling a bit in those facets of the game, but we have improved our pitching and defense.
“We’ve had some timely hits as well,” he added.
Onusko also praised the Bulldogs’ pitching and defense.
“[Brad] Reimer did a great job for them and they made some good defensive plays,” he said.
Among the Bulldogs’ stellar defensive plays were two situations where a Marlboro runner was tagged out at home plate.
In the bottom of the third, the Dukes’ Nick Gattuso beat out an infield grounder. But the SW first baseman, Tesseyman, quickly threw the ball to catcher Gaston Owen, who tagged out Cunningham to end the frame.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth and Joe Gerbino on base, Joe Taddeo hit an infield ground ball. When the throw to first base was errant, Gerbino attempted to score. But Tesseyman fired the ball to Owen so he could tag out Gerbino.
“Brad Reimer pitched a great game,” SW Coach Kurt Scheibe Jr. said. “We made some good defensive plays behind him.”
Scheibe noted that many younger players stepped up and played well this season.
“Ryan Alsdorf and Jeremy DeGori both did a great job,” he said of the two freshmen.
Scheibe said that DeGori, who was at third base on Sunday, played four different defensive positions this spring, while Alsdorf was the Bulldogs’ starting shortstop in several games.
“This is a great group of kids,” Scheibe said of his team.