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Diamond Notes

Valdespina, Solecitto Toss Shutouts in North Jersey's DH Sweep of Catz
June 27, 2015
Justin Valdespina and Paul Rufo
By Dominick Savino | North Jersey Eagles

Last weekend, North Jersey began a pivotal homestand in which it will play three doubleheaders and an additional rivalry game in less than a week.

With only 10 hurlers on the roster, the gauntlet will test the team's pitching staff as the Eagles look to string together victories and position themselves for a deep postseason run.

Fortunately for North Jersey, however, Justin Valdespina and Austin Solecitto decided to start that stretch of games by rewarding the bullpen with a day off.

The two starting pitchers brought their A-game to Overpeck Park on Saturday, each tossing a 3-hit shutout as they guided North Jersey to 7-0 and 5-0 victories against Lehigh Valley.

From the start of Game 1, it was clear that Valdespina's start would be his best yet. The Southern New Hampshire product retired the first 10 hitters he faced, including three via strikeouts, before allowing a one-out single in the 4th inning to Steven Cohen.

By then, though, the Eagles' bats had already gone to work against Catz starter David Moyer, pounding out three runs in the 2nd inning and notching two extra tallies in the 3rd to put the game out of reach.

With men on the corners and two outs in the 2nd, Matthew Stalter chopped an infield grounder to Cohen, but the Catz shortstop fired his throw into right field to allow Paul Rufo to score the first run of the ballgame. After Tolly Filotei followed with a bunt single to load the bases, Andrew Murnane plated Stalter and Zach Tondi on a slow-rolling double that snuck under the glove of Lehigh Valley first baseman Nick Todero.

Then, in the 3rd inning, it was more small-ball baseball that brought home two insurance runs for North Jersey.

Shane Woelfel singled to right, advanced to second on a fielder's choice, reached third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Luis Amaro to add the first run of that half-inning. One batter later, Paul Rufo scraped together a run by reaching first on another error by Cohen, stealing second, and scoring on an RBI single from Tondi.

Rufo completed his remarkable day at the plate in the 5th inning, launching a 2-run dinger over the left-field fence for the team's sixth and seventh runs of the game and second homerun of the season.

The scoring outburst would be more than plenty for Valdespina, who was one pitch ahead of the Catz's hitters for all seven innings. The Garfield, New Jersey native punctuated his stellar start with his season-high 7th strikeout, a 3-pitch punch-out of Joseph Coyle to end the first game.

30 minutes later, Austin Solecitto picked up where Valdespina left off, ringing up six K's in the first three innings to keep the Catz's bats silent.

Like in Game 1, the Eagles' lineup provided plenty of run support for their starter in Game 2.

North Jersey struck for a run in the 1st inning, as Andrew Murnane nearly mirrored Shane Woelfel's solo scoring effort from the first game to make the score 1-0. Leading off for the third straight game, the UPenn sophomore drew a walk, stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice fly, and sprinted home on a wild pitch.

The Eagles then bolstered their lead in the 3rd inning by piecing together its second three-run inning of the day.

With men on the corners and one out, Ryan Rivera dropped a suicide squeeze bunt squarely in between the mound and the plate. Catz starter Ben Bortz flipped home to catcher Will Anderson, but Tolly Filotei safely slide under the tag for the Eagles' second run of Game 2. Later in the inning, Matthew Krupa smacked a slump-busting, 2-RBI single into right-center field to double the score and bring across Woelfel and Rivera.

Murnane crossed the plate once more in the bottom of the 4th, benefitting from Woelfel's RBI groundout to push the scoring to 5-0.

In the meantime, Solecitto continued to shine in his first start with North Jersey, dancing around a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the 4th by inducing two infield pop outs to end the threat.

By the time umpires ended Game 2 after four and a half innings due to rain, the Rice University southpaw had retired five of the final six Catz batsmen sent to the plate and recorded seven strikeouts in an impressive ACBL debut.

North Jersey will continue its home stand on Tuesday, June 30 as the Eagles host the Jersey Pilots at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. First pitch will be at 7:00pm, and the pregame.

Pilots Beat Generals; Second Game Suspended
June 27, 2015

By Seth Goldberg | Jersey Pilots

The Pilots set out to Mercer County Community College for a doubleheader against the Trenton Generals on Saturday. The second game would be suspended in the fourth inning, but first we take a look at the first game of the day.

Game one was about pitching. For Jersey, Tommy Giunta took the hill and would not give up a run. Giunta struck out the first batter of the game, Mike Salvatore, and picked off Brian Uliana to end the first frame.

The Pilots would break through in the 4th inning when Stephen Petriello knocked a lead-off double. Doug Carter pinch ran for Petriello at second Carter advanced to third when Tyler Heisch flew out to right field. Then the next batter, Pat Geraghty, knocked him in with an RBI single to left.

That was all the run support Giunta would need. Allowing just 3 hits over a 7-inning complete game. The strikeout to begin the game was the only strikeout Giunta would record. Along with the 3 hits, four more Generals reached base against Giunta on walks. No Generals base runner would reach third base in the game.

When Mike Salvatore grounded into a fielder’s choice to second, the Generals were retired in the 7th and Giunta finished off a complete game shutout. The Pilots took the first game of the doubleheader 1-0.

The second game was underway just 20 minutes later. Pilots leadoff man Tommy Trotter singled to begin the second game. He came around to score when Drew Deangelis walked with the bases loaded. In the second, Tyler Heisch reached on a bunt single and went to second when third baseman Mike Pfeninger threw the ball down the right field line. Heisch came around to score when Trotter knocked an RBI double, and the Pilots led 2-0 after an inning and a half.

After two quick outs in the bottom of the second, Anthony Romito walked Ryan Reitmeyer and Cole Creighton. Then Matt Iantosca cleared the bases with a 2-run double to tie the game at 2-2.

However, the Pilots got right back at it in the top of the third when John Scarr led off the inning with a triple down the right field line. He came around to score when the next batter, Drew Deangelis singled him in. In the top of the 4th, the Generals recorded two quick outs, but Greg Kocinski followed with a doubled and John Scarr knocked him in two batters later with a double of his own to extend the lead to 4-2.

In the bottom of the 4th, Romito recorded an out, then walked Ryan Reitmeyer for the second time. When Reitmeyer made it to first, the umpired called the game due to rain. The game has been suspended and will be picked up when the Pilots next travel to Mercer County Community College.

Pilots take game 1 from Generals, Game 2 Suspended
June 27, 2015

By Matt Nelson | Trenton Generals

The bats have been a problem all season long for the Trenton Generals and they continued to be a problem as the Generals lost to the Jersey Pilots 1-0 at Mercer County Community College on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Game 2 was suspended by heavy rain with the Generals trailing 4-2 with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The Generals mustered just three hits in the first game, two of which came off the bat of Mike Salvatore. He finished the game 2-4 with a strikeout.

Matt Hornich pitched a brilliant game allowing just one run on six hits, four walks and five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.

In Game 2, Trenton trailed 2-0 heading into the second. A couple of two-out walks issued to Ryan Reitmeyer and Cole Creighton brought Matt Iantosca to the plate and he drilled a two-run double to right centerfield to tie up the ballgame 2-2.

Brendan Campbell has the only other base hit for the Generals after getting aboard with an infield single in the second, his first base hit in seven games played (first since May 31).

Game 2 between the Generals and the Pilots will continue at a later date.

The Generals will begin a two-game road trip with the Staten Island Tide on Monday at the College of Staten Island. First pitch is at 5 P.M. with Matt Nelson providing the Play-by-Play action beginning with the pregame show at 4:45 P.M. on

Pilots Split Doubleheader against Trenton
June 24, 2015

By Seth Goldberg | Jersey Pilots

The Pilots and Generals played two at Snyder Avenue Park on Wednesday night. In the first game with the Pilots as the home team, scoring held out until the fourth inning. Then Jersey took over the game. Greg Kocinski led off with his second of four hits in the game and a 4 run fourth was off to a good start for the Pilots. Kocinski and John Scarr cane around to score on Drew Deangelis' 2 RBI double. Drew would score on an RBI single by Brian Dudeck and David Young scored when he and Dudeck executed a double steal.

The Pilots offense wasn't done however. In the fifth, the Pilots got right back to it and scored 4 more runs with the big hit an RBI single by John Scarr. The Pilots sent 10 men to the plate in the inning, good for back-to-back 4 run frames.

Pitcher Connor Lehmann had all the run support he needed. Coming off a no-hitter last weekend against Lehigh Valley, Lehmann threw another gem. This time he allowed 0 runs on just 5 hits and struck out 10. It was his second consecutive complete game shutout in which he has struck out 10 or more batters. Connor's scoreless inning streak now sits at 18, dating back to his first start of the season against Staten Island on June 7th.

While the first game went great for the Pilots, the second was not as fruitful. The game was scoreless into the fifth inning, but then things unraveled for starter Tim Pilrun and the Pilots. After recording the first out of the inning when leadoff man Cole Creighton popped up to shortstop, the next two batters reached base and came around to score on Brian Uliana's 2 RBI double. Jason Patnick chased Uliana home, and Ryan Shinn hit a 2-run single to chase Pilrun from the game and extend the Generals lead to 5-0.

The Pilots were unable to put any hits together and in the 7th, the Generals added to their lead. Dave Osnato came up and crushed a 2-run home run to straight away center field to extend the Trenton lead to 7-0. The Generals would add on one more before retiring the Pilots in the bottom of the inning.

The Pilots took the first game 10-0, but the Generals came back to take the second game 8-0. The Pilots now sit at 5-7 and the Generals at 6-10. The two teams get back at it on Saturday with a doubleheader at Trenton.

Eagles Comeback Victory over the Staten Island Tide
June 23, 2015
Matt Stalter and Nicholas Masterson
By Deana Deo / René Miranda | North Jersey Eagles

After a one hour lightening and rain delay at the start of the game, the North Jersey Eagles came up with some lightning of their own to come out on top.

The Eagles rallied in the bottom of the 6th inning to tie the game at fours, then scored the winning run in the 8th inning and hold their ground to take the game 5-4.

Winning pitcher Nicholas Masterson, right handed pitcher from Coastal Carolina University, came in to the game in the 6th inning and got the win for the Eagles. He pitched 31/3 innings and gave up no runs, one hit, two walks and three strikeouts. The reliever is doing a good job for the Eagles, in five appearances, he has pitched 11 and 1/3 innings, has struck out 14 and walked only two, and is pitching to a stellar ERA of 2.38.

The hitting heroes of the game were right fielded John Kukura and shortstop Paul Rufo. Kukura went three for four at bats with one run scored. Shortstop Rufo had two hits of his own, one driving in a run. Second baseman Matt Stalter also added to the hit parade with two hits of his own, including an RBI for a bases loaded walk in the 6th inning and the tie-breaker RBI in the 8th inning.

In the 6th inning, left fielder Andrew Murnane leads off the inning with a walk. Ryan Rivera followed with a base hit. Kukura drives in Murnane for the Eagles first run of the game with a base hit. Luis Amaro follows with a base hit to load the bases. The Tide, trying to stop the inning from getting out of hand, brought in Rosario DiLorenzo in for the starter Michael Macchia. DiLorenzo did not fair batter, giving up a bases loaded walk to Rufo and then hitting Zach Tondi. The Tide brings in Paul Mammino to face John Jennings. Mammino strike outs Jennings for the first out of the inning. Stalter works out a walk to drive in the tying run. The inning ended with a double play.

Going into the bottom of the 8th, Rufo started the inning with a base hit, but was eliminated when Zach Tondi grounded into a double play. With two outs, John Jennings reaches first safely by an error by the Tides first baseman. Jennings gets a great jump and steals second. Stalter comes up big with a clutch two-out single driving Jennings home. In the top of the ninth, Masterson gets the leadoff batter to ground out to second, he walks Sean Mazzio. Chris Smith decides to call in his closer, Jordan Fontenelle, to close the game. Things looked like they were going to backfire on the Eagles as Fontenelle walked the first two batters he faced. Jordan bears down and induces Charles Misiano to pop out to first, and then followed that with a three pitch strikeout. This was Jordan’s third save of the season.

Next home game at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park NJ will be on Saturday June 27th at 1pm against the Lehigh Valley Catz. Hope to see you there.

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