FOREST CITY — The East Rutherford Junior Legion baseball team needed to defeat Matthews on Friday night to advance to the North Carolina Junior Legion State Tournament, but the visitors pounded out 13 hits in a 9-5 win as the Cavaliers’ season came to an end.
Matthews put the East Rutherford defense under attack early with a leadoff single. After a fielder’s choice and a hit by pitch, the visitors claimed a 1-0 lead on a RBI single.
East Rutherford countered with back-to-back singles by Coleman Tisdale and Seth Ranta in the bottom of the first, but Matthews turned a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat and maintain a 1-0 lead after one inning.
Ranta worked around a pair of singles in the top of the second and the offense responded with a pair of runs.
Tyler Flack singled and scored on a RBI triple by Colby Condrey to tie the game. Chase Powell then laid down a perfect bunt on a squeeze play to score Condrey and give East Rutherford a 2-1 lead.
A pair of errors would prove costly in the top of the third as Matthews would tie the game on a RBI single and then tacked on four runs in the fourth inning on four hits and three errors.
The Cavaliers would get one run back in the bottom of the fourth. Alfredo Aleman and Flack singled to begin the inning and Aleman would then score on an error, but that would be all East Rutherford could manage as they trailed 6-3 after four innings. Neither team could manufacture much offense in the fifth, but Matthews would add another run on a bunt in the top of the sixth to claim a 7-3 advantage.
East Rutherford would put together a rally in the bottom of the sixth. Ranta singled and then stole second. After a groundout, Ranta scored on a Flack RBI double. Condrey would bring home Flack with a RBI single to cut the deficit to 7-5. Logan Russell singled to put the tying run on base, but a flyout and a groundout ended the threat.
Matthews would get both runs back in the top of the seventh as a run scored on a passed ball and a RBI groundout.
East Rutherford appeared poised to make a rally as Tisdale smashed a ground-rule double and Ranta followed with a single to bring the tying run to the on-deck circle, but a 4-6-3 double play ended the game and East Rutherford’s season.
While East Rutherford head coach Taylor Greene was disappointed with the loss, he was happy with the progress his players made throughout the season.
“I hate we came up short, but there are a lot of things to be proud of this season,” he said. “If you had told me at the beginning of the season that we would be playing in a winner take all game with a trip to the state tournament on the line, I would have definitely taken that. We had our chances tonight, we just couldn’t get it done. I give a lot of credit to Matthews. They do a lot of things the right way. Good luck to them. I’m proud of our boys and I’m proud of what we accomplished this year.”
MA — 101 401 2 — 9 13 1
ER — 020 102 0 — 5 13 6