Defying all odds, South’s baseball team emerged as the champions of the Mercer County Tournament when they defeated the top-seeded Hamilton West, 8-5, in the finals on May 15.
After a mediocre season, the Pirates entered the tournament seeded 11th and without a single victory against the four teams they would face in the tournament — Robbinsville, Steinert, Pennington, and Hamilton West. The team’s losing record meant South did not even qualify for the state tournament.
But in four well-played games — including two grueling 11-inning marathons in the final and semifinal rounds — the Pirates took first at the MCT for the first time in 12 years and the third time in school history.
At the bottom of the seventh inning — the end of a regulation high school baseball game — the score was tied at 2. The deadlock continued into the 10th inning, when South scored three runs to pull ahead, 5-2, but a Hamilton run followed by a bases-loaded double re-tied the score.
Hamilton West seemed poised to win, with Gerry Gomez attempting to score from first on the double, but a good play by right fielder Stephen Ochoa and a strong relay throw from first baseman Sean O’Brien caught Gomez at third. South added three runs in the 11th to secure the win.
Between his instrumental throw in the final game and his pitching in the semifinal game, O’Brien was named tournament MVP.
Although North failed to make it past the quarterfinals in the Mercer County Tournament, the Knights did qualify for the state tournament, where they fell to Monroe, 4-2.
North defeated South 6-2 on May 17. RBI for North: Adam Gostomski 3; Mike Mazzeo 3. Doubles for North: Mazzeo 1. HR for North: Gostomski 1.
South (12-11): A 3-0 loss to Notre Dame on May 14. RBI: Tom O’Connor 1.
An 8-5 win over Hamilton on May 15.
North (12-9): A 3-1 win over Notre Dame on May 15. RBI: Sid Kumar 1; Mazzeo 1. Doubles: Mazzeo 1; Jack O’Connell 1. HR: Kumar 1. WP: Steve Schilder.
A 4-2 loss to Monroe on May 19.
A 12-11 loss to Lawrenceville on May 20. RBI: Ben Arias 3; Danny Demouth 1; Matt Duplak 1; Gostomski 1; Brandon Kocher 1; Mazzeo 1; A. Schoenblum 1; Christian Waters 1. Doubles: Kocher 1; Kumar 1; O’Connell 1.