Bulldog team struggling to finish opponents off

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

METUCHEN — The Metuchen High School baseball team lost a tough second round game in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament to Sayreville 6-5 last weekend at Myrtle Park.

The Bulldogs took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning behind Nate Fisler’s two-RBI triple. Fisler finished the contest 2-for-4 with three RBIs. The junior right fielder added his final RBI with a single in the bottom half of the third.

The Bulldog’s Brian Hooghuis laced a two-run single in the fourth that put Metuchen up 5-0. Hooghuis’ two-out hit marked the departure of Sayreville starter Tim Ballard. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Ballard’s replacement, Brandon Aich, shut down the Metuchen offense for the remaining 3 1/3 innings.

While Ballard was ineffective in stopping the Bulldog offense, Metuchen’s Dan Sorg was virtually unhittable through four innings. The senior right hander, and ace of the Bulldog staff, allowed just one hit and no runs before Sayreville put three on the board in the fifth. The Bombers took advantage of a pair of infield hits, an error, and a base on balls that forced home a run to make things interesting.

"Dan has been money for us all year," Metuchen head coach Sean Economou said. "He lost some of his focus in the fifth, but fought back with his fastball and slider."

Unfortunately for Sorg, his offense went cold and Sayreville would continue to chip away at the Metuchen lead.

Sayreville’s David Donner pulled the Bombers to within one with a two-out double that scored Kris Brus in the sixth. In the top half of the seventh inning, Sayreville first baseman Dan Louis smashed a lead-off triple to right center. Despite the lead-off, extra base hit, Economou never questioned Sorg’s presence on the mound.

"Brett [Augustine] was available," Economou said, "but the way Dan was throwing, it was his game to win or lose. You win with your best or you lose with your best."

Donner’s pinch runner scored on a Rob Arvanites single to even the score. With two outs and Arvanites on third, Brus hit a dribbler that died in the infield grass to score the go-ahead run.

"It’s a slow infield," Economou said. "At the high school level you just don’t have a major league field and there is always something to contend with."

The Bulldogs had one last opportunity with the heart of the order due up in the seventh. After Aich fanned Keith Walker and Fisler, the Bulldogs managed a walk. Aich then made a rare blunder balking the runner to second.

With a runner in scoring position and designated hitter Lenny Bing at the plate, Aich completed the trifecta and struck out Bing to end the game. With the loss, the Bulldogs fell to 8-7.

"This game was typical of the way things have been going," Economou said. "We play well for six innings, but can’t hold on for the win. This is our fifth loss in the final inning. We have to learn from the mistakes and right the ship."

Next up for the Bulldogs is Timothy Christian on Thursday and Delaware Valley Saturday.

Hopefully the team can regroup after the setback and prepare for the opening round of the NJSIAA tournament. The Bulldogs will compete in the Central Jersey Group I tournament alongside other area teams such as Dunellen, Middlesex, and Highland Park.

"We just have to stay loose and not get down on ourselves," Economou said. "We’ve lost seven games by a total of 10 runs. If half of these games went the other way, we would have a good record."