with Clutch Hitting
By Kaitlin Stansel
The sun began to slowly dip behind the trees bordering Rutherford's Memorial Field on Monday, April 18.
What had started as a sunny eighty degree day was now disguised by a cold breeze.
Despite the setting sun, the Panthers lined up hungry to bat.
The Rutherford bulldogs led the Glen Rock Panthers by two. To some, the game appeared over.
“We had opportunities all game to really give ourselves a good chance to win the game and we missed many opportunities. I was hoping the kids remained positive and were not frustrated by the missed opportunities,” Crispino said. “Each guy in the dugout wanted to be the guy that made the big play for us.”
The Panthers were entering the seventh inning. Senior catcher John Scandale stepped up to the plate, gripping the metal of the bat with zeal.
"I just tried to make hard contact
and let my hands do the
work," Scandale said.
Scandale hit a two-run single
to right-center that allowed
Seniors Matt Gresham and Will Traphagen to score, tying
up the game.
“When we were down a few runs for most of the game, our guys never pressed nor tightened up,” Scandale said. “We knew what we were capable of and told ourselves to just keep playing and good things would come.”
Following Senior Pitchers Jason Palmeri and Jeff Buckwalter, Senior Zachary Waller unexpectedly entered the game at the bottom of the seventh. Waller wasn’t scheduled to pitch until Wednesday’s game against Hawthorne.
Waller proceeded to pick up the win, throwing four scoreless innings of relief.
In the top of the eleventh the panthers struck for seven runs, led by Senior first baseman Matt Lange who walked and later scored the go ahead run.
Lange was the first of eleven batters to approach the plate that inning. Including RBIs from designated hitter Matt Gresham, third baseman Mike O’Hagan, second baseman Mike Szawaluk, and center fielder Max Felsenstein.
“This was a big offensive break out for us. We know the kind of talent we have throughout the lineup and knew we were underachieving offensively to start the season,” Waller said. “This shows the hard work we do in the batting cages and it's nice for us all to finally get positive results. We now know what we are capable of and we can't look back now.”
Connor Smith pitched the bottom of the eleventh inning and shut the door on the Rutherford Bulldogs comeback hopes, securing the Panthers’ 12-5 win in a momentous game.
"The team came together and just stuck with what coach has been telling us all year,” Waller said. “We have the talent and all it is is putting it all together. We now know what we are capable of and what opportunities we have going into the rest of the season.”
The Panther’s win against Rutherford is just the beginning to a week full of challenges. The team is scheduled to face Hawthorne on Wednesday and later Pompton Lakes on Thursday. Currently, both teams are tied for first in the league. The week will conclude with a game against New Milford on Saturday, who is currently 6 and 3.
“This game was a must win for us and hopefully will set the tone for the rest of the week when we play Pompton and Hawthorne,” Scandale said. “This game picked us up and showed us what we can do.”
As for the rest of the season, the team hopes to mimic the confidence and aggression they exhibited against Rutherford.
"Our primary goal is to win the league which is what we stated in our pre-season meeting," Crispino said. “By doing that we should be able to get into the Bergen County Tournament and also achieve a good seed in the NJ State Tournament.”