The hits came from every source in the Colts Neck lineup. They came from both sides of the plate within a well-balanced order that revealed no holes.
And, the offensive outburst came as somewhat of a surprise for coach Mike Yorke.
“I thought we’d pitch well and play good defense,” Yorke said. “We know we have a catcher that’s going to keep everybody on base and I knew we were going to run. But, I had no idea we could hit the way we did.”
Down by six runs through four innings, Colts Neck never panicked. Instead, it used the predicament to display a contagious resiliency that emanated from its bats.
After striking for five runs in the fifth, the Cougars exploded for seven more in the sixth, keyed by a three-run double from junior Scott McNally, and classmate Matt Kleinstein, the aforementioned catcher whose tools behind the plate often overshadow his prowess in the batter’s box, collected three hits and three RBI as Colts Neck rallied to score a 15-11 victory over Freehold Borough on Tuesday in Freehold Borough.
While Yorke may not have foreseen the vast potential of a batting order that pounded out 14 hits and cashed in on nine walks and two hit batters, of which eight eventually scored, McNally and Kleinstein each had an inkling of what the Cougars’ offense is capable of.
“We know we’re a good hitting team,” said McNally, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and four RBI. “Once we get started, we just keep rolling and rolling.”
“We executed situational hitting really well ,” added Kleinstein, who collected two singles, a double and three RBI. “It was about having discipline at the plate and faith in your team.”
That faith was put to the test when Freehold Borough (0-1) struck for five unearned runs in the fourth to build a 6-1 advantage, highlighted by a run-scoring double from Matt Holtz, who ended 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored, and Travis Rudic’s second RBI single of the contest.
Colts Neck (1-0) fashioned an instant rebuttal by hanging a five-spot in the fifth. Kleinstein drew a bases-loaded walk in front of Rob Nanni, who lined a two-run single to left . McNally followed with a run-scoring double and scored when pinch-hitter Lucian Dellafera laced single to right to even matters at 6-6.
After Freehold Borough reclaimed the lead in the bottom half on an RBI triple from junior center fielder Jason Lundy, Colts Neck went right back to work, pounding out five hits in the top of the sixth. A double from Kleinstein tied the game one final time and McNally backed up consecutive walks that loaded the bases with a long double to right that chased home all three runners to put the Cougars in front to stay, 10-7.
“I went up with an approach,” McNally said of the game-breaking double. “I was looking away and got lucky enough to get good contact on it and drove it to right.”
Believe it or not, even in a game that featured a combined 25 hits, there were moments of pitching brilliance.
In the bottom of the third, Freehold Borough had runners on second and third with no outs only to be neutralized by Colts Neck starter Jake Tannen, who bore down to strike out the next three batters and extinguish the uprising.
Reliever Brandon Simon yielded a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh but bounced back to fan the last three Freehold Borough hitters in emphatic fashion to pick up the save for junior left-hander Mike Pepio (1-0), who struck out three, walked three, allowed four hits and yielded five runs, only one of which was earned, over two innings.
Cody Reilly was 3-for-4 with a single, double, triple, two runs scored and an RBI for Freehold Borough while teammate Rudic supplied two singles and knocked in a pair runs. Jason Lundy added two RBI with a sacrifice fly and a triple.
Tim Vangelas and Jon Baturgil each had two hits and an RBI and Rob Nanni chipped in with a two-run single for Colts Neck.
No. 3 Red Bank Catholic 12, Long Branch 2: Left-hander Ryan Slate hurled a four-hitter with nine strikeouts for the Caseys (1-0) in a five-inning triumph. Andrew LaMura finished 2-for-3 with a double, triple, run scored and an RBI. Mike Rescigno had three hits, including a homer, and drove in three runs and Joe Iacobellis was 3-for-3 with two RBI. Nick Liggett, Diego Espinosa and Ron Robinson each supplied two hits.
Toms River South 7, Brick Memorial 6: Andrew Hourigan snapped a 6-6 tie with single in the bottom of the sixth for Toms River South (1-0). Senior RJ Devish was 4-for-4 and threw two scoreless innings of relief to notch his first career victory. Russell Messler connected for a run-scoring triple in the first and an RBI double in the third to help South build a 4-1 lead. Brick Memorial (0-1) got RBI singles from Ryan Melia and Kevin Corris.
Msgr. Donovan 15, Point Pleasant Boro 3: James Meyreles and Evan Worth each unloaded a three-run homer and produced four RBI apiece for Msgr. Donovan (1-0). Keith Murphy homered with a runner aboard for Point Pleasant Boro (1-1).
Point Pleasant Beach 19, Henry Hudson 3: Noah Yates was 5-for-5 with 8 RBI in support of his brother Zach, who tossed four scoreless innings with four strikeouts for Point Pleasant Beach.
Marlboro 16, West Carter (Ky.) 1: Adam Ashenfarb worked four innings, allowing five hits while striking out eight to pick up his first varsity decision for Marlboro, which wrapped up its Florida trip by going 3-0. Anthony Asta delivered three hits and Richie Bellamare and Ben Helmes both had two hits and each scored twice. Mike Zigman added two runs scored and two RBI.
Bayonne 10, St. Peter’s (N.Y.) 0: On Monday, junior Dave Jakubowski tossed a two-hit shutout with three strikeouts and no walks as the Bees (1-0) opened the season by providing coach Phil Baccarella with his 400th victory. Kyle Greaves fueled the offense with two hits and four RBI.
Gregg Lerner covers baseball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner