FREEHOLD, N.J. — The Elk-McKean Junior League All-Star baseball team find themselves in today’s winners’ bracket final at the East Regional Tournament after pulling out a wild 19-11 slugfest against Maryland Sunday evening at Michael J. Tighe Park in Freehold, N.J.
Elk-McKean jumped out to a 7-2 lead after one inning and led 12-3 after three before Maryland pushed eight runs across the plate in the top of the fourth to make a game of it at 12-11.
That proved to be as close as Maryland got though, as Elk-McKean scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth and two more in the sixth to come away with the eight-run victory in a game that featured 29 hits (17 by Elk-McKean) and nine errors (4 by Elk-McKean).
Elk-McKean was powered by the top of its order, as the first three batters — Aiden Zimmerman, Camron Marciniak and Harley Morris went a combined 10-for-16 with five RBIs and eight runs scored.
Zimmerman was 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs, while Morris was 4-for-6 with a double and two runs. Marciniak went 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and three runs.
All that offense afforded the Pennsylvania champs to use five different pitchers to keep most of its arms eligible for today’s winners’ bracket final.
Marciniak notched the win in relief, tossing the final four innings while throwing just 46 pitches. He allowed three hits and no runs while striking out three and walking one.
Elk-McKean battles New Jersey state champ Ridgewood tonight for a spot in Wednesday morning’s East Regional title game.
Maryland scored two runs in the top of the first against starter Ethan Wells, but Elk-McKean countered with a seven-run bottom of the first.
Zimmerman led off with a walk and stole second before scoring on a Marciniak single. Marciniak promptly swiped second and went to third on a single by Harley Morris. Wells followed with a walk to load the bases, then Dominic Allegretto drew a free pass to force in a run.
After a forceout cut down a run at home, Kaden Dennis plated Wells with a single. Two runs proceeded to score on wild pitches before Zimmerman capped the huge opening inning with a double that brought home Jefferson Freeburg. Dennis was 2-for-4 with the RBI and two runs.
Maryland got a run back in the second off Wells before he was pulled at the 0-pitch threshold.
Elk-McKean countered with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning.
Morris led off with a double and later scored on a passed ball, while Wells, who walked, sprinted home on a squeeze bunt to make it 9-3.
Elk-McKean added to its lead with a three-run third.
Caden Smiley drew a leadoff walk, while Zimmerman followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position. Smiley came home when Marciniak reached on an error, while Wells scored Zimmerman on a single.
Marciniak later scored on another error to make it 12-3 before Maryland’s eight-run top of the fourth made things interesting at 12-11.
Marciniak came on in relief during that inning to shut the door on Maryland on his way to throwing four scoreless innings.
Elk-McKean got some breathing room with its five-run fifth, an inning that featured a two-run homer by Zimmerman and RBI singles from Smiley and Dominic Allegretto to help put Pennsylvania up 17-11.
The Pennsylvania champs tacked on its final two runs in the sixth on a Curt Barner groundout and Luke Ely RBI single.