Two-out thunder has Braves in MCT final

Manalapan beats CBA in semis

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Thanks to some two-out thunder, the ManalapanHigh School baseball team is playing for a championship.

The Braves put together a five-run rally in the top of the fifth in Lincroft, allwith two outs, to beat Christian BrothersAcademy, 5- 4, on May 28 to advance to the Monmouth County Tournament (MCT) championship game.

The Braves were scheduled to play topseed St. Rose (23-2) in the MCT title game on Monday at Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls.

“We’re happy we’re playing for something,” Manalapan head coach Brian Boyce said after his team’s victory in the semifinal.

Trailing 1-0 andwith two outs and no one on, theBraveswere a shell of the high school team they’ve been all year. Then, just like that, it all changed.

As so many rallies seem to do, this started with a two-out walk. Pinch hitter Matt Steinitz then delivered perhaps, the biggest hit of the game, a double that tied the ballgame.

Steinitz’s two-bagger opened up the floodgates and the Braves poured it on. Clutch singles fromNick Turano, Pat Flanagan, Cook and Rich Mannino followed and by the time the Colts got the third out, five runs had crossed home plate.

“There is no quit in them,” noted Boyce. “We’ve done that [two-out rallies] a few times this year.We never feel thatwe are out of an inning.”

Now that they had a 5-1 lead, it fell on Manalapan’s pitching by committee to hold off the equally prolific Colts bats.

Starter Ryan Harvey, who had six wins including two no-hitters this year,was nursing a very sore back and went as long as he could, which was two innings. He left with the Braves down 1-0.

Boyce, who knew that it was highly unlikely thatHarvey could go the distance, had sophomore Lawrence Schoer to go long relief and freshman Nick Kreiger if he needed a closer.

Boyce has a deep staff to begin and having lost twice to CBAduring the regular season, he knew what matchups he wanted.

“CBA is better against power pitchers,” Boyce explained.

Schoer and Kreiger are better curve and change-up pitchers, the better to keep the Colts off-balance.

“The key for Lawrence is getting the first pitch over for a strike,” said Boyce. “Nick doesn’t act like a freshman.He’s sneaky fast because of his change-up.”

Schoer, who went 3.2 innings picked up his third win of the season (3-1), while Kreiger got the save going 1.1 innings.

CBAcrawled back into the game scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth and once in the bottom off the sixth to get three of the runs back. But, they couldn’t get the equalizer and it was theirANorth Division rivals advancing to theMCT final.