May 31

Lackawanna upsets BCC men

first_imgPHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Above, Brookdale pitcher Greg Slavicek fires a pitch to the plate during the Jersey Blues game against Lackawanna in Lincroft on Saturday. Below, BCC catcher John Romana makes a difficult catch in foul grounds. Lackawanna Jr. College pulled off the first big upset of the Region XIX baseball tournament, beating host Brookdale Community College in the best-of-three series on Sunday. Brookdale, which won the Garden State Athletic Conference championship this spring, was looking to win the region title for the second time in three years. Despite the Blues having the home-field edge, visiting Lackawanna, the No. 7 seed from Scranton, Pa., eliminated No. 2 BCC Sunday, 6-4, to take the series two games to one. Lackawanna (19-17) served notice to Brookdale that it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk to the Region Final Four when it topped the Jersey Blues 6-3 in the first game of the series on Saturday. Brookdale roared back to beat Lackawanna 10-2 that afternoon, to force a decisive third game on Sunday in Lincroft. Nick Riker improved to 6-0 on the season, holding the visitors to seven hits while striking out six. The offensive star for Brookdale was Adam Taha, who was 3-for-3, with three runs scored, an RBI and a pair of stolen bases. John Romano smacked a home run and a double, and Dave Lorber also struck for extra bases with a double. Romano had homered in the 6-3 loss in the first game of the double-header. Sunday, Lackawanna proved once again that “on any given day” is more than a cliché. With both teams staring at elimination, Lackawanna rallied in the final two innings, scoring one run in the eighth to tie the game and two in the ninth to beat Brookdale, 6-4, and advance to the weekend’s Region XIX Final Four, hosted by Mercer County College. Lackawanna trailed 3-1 after three innings but tied it in sixth, plating a pair of runs. The Blues went back up 4-3 in the last of the seventh only to see Lackawanna steal the game in the last two innings. The loss was a bitter one for Brookdale, which finished its season at 28-8 and was ranked sixth in the country in the latest junior college poll. The Jersey Blues had impressed their head coach Johnny Johnson with how consistently they had played from the first game of the season, avoiding any long losing streaks. That led to a GSAC title, the No. 2 seed for the Region XIX tournament and an optimism that the Blues could return to the Junior College World Series for the first time since 2002. However, in a short series, the pitching that had been so strong throughout the year surrendered six runs twice to the seventh seed, and the timely hitting that had led to a 27-win regular season couldn’t produce the knock-out blow in either of the losses. The Blues wasted an 11-hit attack in the first game, manufacturing just three runs. Although it’s a loss that stings, Brookdale can look ahead to a bright future. This was a team dominated by freshmen, and there is no reason to believe that the Blues won’t be in a position to challenge for the Region title again next year. — Tim Morrislast_img read more