Milltown on schedule as the playoffs arrive

South Division champs fall in county final to Father & Son


Staff Writer

MILLTOWN — For the second year in a row, the Milltown Post 25 Senior American Legion team is the Middlesex County South Division champions.

Milltown finished the regular season 22-2 and were crowned champions of the Health Quest Invitational at Hunterdon Central High School earlier this month.

Milltown demonstrated during the Health Quest Invitational and throughout the summer that it can blow teams away, but also win the close ones when necessary. At Hunterdon Central, Milltown won its first tournament game, 1-0, over Immaculata prior to knocking off Clinton 10-9. In the finals, Hightstown had the misfortune of facing Milltown for the title, and Milltown crushed its foe


In order to outdistance South Brunswick in the South Division standings, Milltown had a busy week, beginning with three games on Monday. The day started with a doubleheader with South River in the morning, Milltown won 7-4 and 4-2, and ended with an 11-0 win over Old Bridge in the evening.

“The mercy-rule win over Old Bridge was huge,” Milltown head coach Glenn Fredricks said. “Because of the shortened game, our pitching staff saved about 50 pitches with a full week to play.”

Milltown followed Monday’s action with a 14-4 pounding of Iselin, before beating South River for the third time in as many days by a 5-2 score. Matt Metsch tossed a complete game, six-hitter in the win over South River.

On Thursday, Milltown clinched the division title with a 4-3 win over South Amboy. Tom Sosnowski threw five innings to get the win before handing the ball to Will Beard for the save. Beard fanned five of the last six batters to end the game. Catcher Chris Affinito was the offensive star of the game, belting a solo homer to break the 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fifth.

Hitting behind Affinito is first baseman Drew Silver, and the one-two punch they provide is lethal. In his last six games Silver has 10 hits, and his two-run homer over Iselin on Tuesday broke the game wide open.

“When he’s swinging the bat well we are tough to beat, because teams realize they can’t pitch around Affinito because Drew is waiting,” Fredricks said. “His home run against Iselin came at a pivotal point, and after his blast we never looked back.”

Milltown finished the regular season riding a 10-game winning streak, which they brought into the county finals against Father & Son. Father & Son were the winners of the Middlesex County Central Division and handed Milltown one of its two losses this summer with a 4-3 victory. The two teams squared off in last year’s final, with Milltown finishing on top 7-4.

“It’s unfolding just like it did last year,” Fredricks said prior to Tuesday’s final. “They have a strong staff and they are no slouches. It will be a good test for our squad prior to the districts. It’ll probably be another exciting one when we meet them in the county finals.”

As it turned out, Father & Son turned out to be much more than a good test, as they beat Milltown Tuesday night in a nine-inning thriller, 8-7, to claim the county championship.

It was a battle of offenses, as the two teams combined for 27 hits, but in the end, it was some clutch pitching from Father & Son’s Kevin Dalton that was the difference.

Dalton picked up the win in the previous matchup between the two squads, and got the best of Milltown again on Tuesday, as he escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh that sent the game into extra innings.

Dalton pitched the final three innings for the Edison squad, holding off the potent Milltown offense. Then, in the top of the ninth, Father & Son got the winning run when they put runners on first and third with back-to-back singles, setting the stage for a run-scoring fielder’s choice of the bat of pinch hitter Lee Cavico. The ball hit off Milltown pitcher Beard to shortstop Matt Metsch, who had no choice but to get the out at first.

Milltown looked strong early on, taking a 4-1 lead on home runs from Brian Dzuro (a two-run shot) and Chris Affinito in the second and third innings, respectively.

After Father & Son responded with a home run of its own from Keith Lorfing in the fourth, and three more runs in the top of the fifth, Milltown put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth on a bunt single from Andy Anderson and an RBI double from Drew Silver.

But the Father & Son team simply wouldn’t quit, as Cal Costanzo tied the game in the top of the seventh with a two-run home run off Eric Hines to tie the game.

Milltown had its chances to seal the win in the bottom of the inning, but Dalton found a way to close the door.

Despite of the outcome of the meeting between Milltown Post 25 and Father & Son, the two teams will compete in District 3 action. They will be joined in the districts by two other Middlesex County teams.

South Brunswick secured its berth by sweeping a best-of-three series with Piscataway on Monday and Tuesday, while JFK and Iselin entered yesterday’s game still battling for the final invite. JFK posted a win over Iselin on Tuesday, 5-1, setting up yesterday’s elimination game.

“Last year, District 3 was loaded with great teams,” Fredricks said. “A lot of people thought Middlesex County teams were weak, and they were proven wrong. I have a feeling this year people will rethink coming up here thinking they can beat up on Middlesex County teams.”

— Doug McKenzie

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