There was something in the air. Black clouds loomed with bright sunshine as the two teams took the field at Diamond Nation in Flemington. Both teams knew the value of victory: one team gets to play another state game on Friday. And the Raiders, still high off their Somerset County Championship win on Saturday, had one other goal: get coach Norm Hewitt, a 1965 Watchung Hills Regional graduate and 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, his 600th win.
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The action from the mound was terrific for both teams. Raider hurler Paul Mammino was stellar in the starting role going 6 1/3 innings giving up 8 hits, 4 walks and striking out 8 more. His counterpart, Joe Rochietti went 7 2/3 innings giving up 7 hits, 3 runs and had 3 strike outs.
But the game would come down to the 8th inning. Pat Roberts would lead off for the Raiders and reach on a infield error and advance to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt from Matt Hornich. With two outs, pinch hitter Matt Ramandi hit a shot to right center that scored Roberts putting Hillsborough up 3-2.
In the bottom half of the inning, Watchung Hills would get get a single from Joe Kinsella. Pinch runner Eric Zadrozny got to 2nd on a sacrifice and then 3rd on an infield play. With slugger Frank Urso at the plate, things couldn't have looked better for the Warriors. Relief pitcher RJ Fanelli worked Urso to a full count, but his payoff pitch would squirt low and past catcher Tyler Ferretti to the screen. Zadrozny made a dash for home but the ball would bounce to Ferretti and he would dive to home with Fanelli coming from the mound to cover. The catcher and the baserunner dove for the plate and Ferretti would get his glove and the ball on the fingers of Zadrozny inches from contact as Fanelli flew over their heads. Zadrozny was out and Hillsborough and coach Hewitt would put it in the record books.
WARRIOR OF THE GAME
Joe Rochietti - Joe went 7 2/3 strong innings holding the Raiders to 3 runs on 7 hits.
UP NEXT - Watchung Hills will face Immaculata away, Thursday, 4 p.m.