Brian Torres pitched well enough to win South Hunterdon’s opener. The senior allowed just five baserunners and fanned seven in a complete game beauty against Bound Brook.
Torres and his Eagles took the short end of a 2-1 defeat, but the runs – and wins – would come soon enough.
On April 10, South Hunterdon mercy ruled Manville 11-1. Torres drove in four and was a homer short of the cycle. Jeffrey Shurts hit that homer as part of a three RBI game that gave starting pitcher Justin Torres plenty of insurance runs.
“Coming off of two important losses, I think that win really brought us together as a team,” Brian Torres commented. “I just wanted to do the best I could.”
Two days later, the Eagles posted a two-spot in the sixth to force extra innings at Pingry. South Hunterdon (3-2, 3-2 Skylands Mountain) won 8-7 in the eighth. Branson Hettman had three hits while Jason Sutton drove in a pair of runs.
“Pingry meant a lot,” Sutton described. “We battled and came through at the end. We stuck to our training and put the ball in play hard.” The Eagles finished the game with a diving catch, 9-6 double play.
“We ended it in style,” Sutton added.
The Eagle offense continued to perform in high gear, bashing Warren Tech (0-6) 13-3 on Tuesday. Brian Torres drove in five runs while sophomore starter Josh Woznicki impressed in his debut.
“I just wanted to throw strikes,” said Woznicki, who fanned five and allowed eight base runners in 5.1 innings. The southpaw added two hits. “We have a good field behind us. All I wanted to do was put the ball in the zone and they would do the rest.”
Austin Parisi singled in Sutton to put the Eagles up 1-0 in the home second. The Knights plated two in the third, but South Hunterdon responded with a four-run bottom of the frame. Brian Torres tripled to left center. Two batters later, identical twin Justin clobbered a nearly identical triple, which scored Brian.
“We started a little off but Coach’s mentoring us and practicing hard helped us out,” Justin Torres said. “We’ve made big improvements with this team and I’m really happy so far.”
Sutton and Woznicki added RBI singles to make the Eagle lead 5-2. “The first couple of games, we were a little timid,” Woznicki admitted. “We wanted to be aggressive and hit the ball if we saw something we liked.”
Brian Torres’ two-run single highlighted a four-run fifth inning. His bases-loaded double in the sixth extended the lead to 12-3. Hettman singled home Torres one batter later, ending the game.
South Hunterdon has averaged nearly 11 runs in its last three games. While it’s a pace unlikely to be sustained, manager Chris Skolka’s nine can put up crooked numbers. The skipper was pleased at the Eagles’ assembling 34 consecutive plate appearances without striking out.
“Offensively, we try and keep it simple,” Skolka said. “At the end of the day, all you have to do is get the barrel of the bat out and make easy contact. One of our goals this year was to cut down on strikeouts and we’ve done a very good job with that. Bound Brook struck us out 17 times, which is not the best way to start off that goal, but it’s decreased every single game from there.”
The Eagles didn’t have time to savor the win. They drew the No. 17 seed in the Hunterdon Warren Sussex Tournament and traveled to nearby No. 12 Hunterdon Central for Wednesday’s first round game (results unavailable at press time).
“Being such a small school, it helps that we have depth,” Skolka noted.
“Having two young guys (Woznicki and Sutton) being able to come in shows they are varsity ready. I feel they can throw against other kids in our conference.”