By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The Princeton High baseball team hopes some late-inning heroics can lead to the start of some late-season success.
The Little Tigers pulled out a dramatic 11-inning win last Saturday when they topped New Brunswick, 2-1, on a base hit by Matt Lambert. Princeton had let a 1-0 lead slip away in the top of the seventh, but managed some late magic to pick up the win against the Zebras.
“We were grinding from the sixth inning on,” Lambert said. “They came back and we just had to keep on going out there every inning and play solid defensively. We knew at some point someone was going to come up with a big hit and I was glad I was able to do that for the team.”
The win was the third of the season for Princeton, which picked up its fourth win when it topped West Windsor-Plainsboro South, 12-2, on Wednesday. The Little Tigers took a 4-5 record into Thursday’s scheduled game with South River.
“We feel like this could be a springboard for us moving forward,” Lambert said after the win over New Brunswick. “We beat Notre Dame earlier and they were the MCT champs last year. I think that shows we can beat any team when we play out best.”
In the win over New Brunswick, Joaquin Hernandez-Burt tossed seven innings of one-hit ball and allowed just an unearned run in the seventh inning. Colin Taylor followed with a shutout inning before Joey Studholme came on to pitch perfect innings and earn the win.
“Joey pitches so well,” Lambert said. “He is ‘Captain Clutch’ and he came up big in relief to get that win. Joaquin is our No. 1 go-to guy and he is always dealing big for us and we expected nothing less today. He came out it was too bad we couldn’t get him the win but we pulled it out in the win. Any time he goes out on the hill we expect to get the win.”
Princeton pushed across the winning run when Paul Cooke led off with a double and eventually scored on the hit by Lambert.
“We had confidence in every single guy coming up to the plate that someone was going to get that hit,” Lambert said. “It was only a matter of time. I was struggling earlier in the year so this was huge for me to get myself going offensively. I really need to get myself going at the plate. I am in a spot to drive in runs and I want to come through for my team.”
After back-to-back strong pitching efforts against Trenton, the Little Tigers received another strong effort against New Brunswick. The pitching, in fact, has been solid most of the season.
“Joaquin, Colin and Joey did a great job, no doubt,” Princeton coach Dave Roberts said. “What more can you ask for than 11 innings of one-run baseball. We would have liked to have ended it after seven, but we came away with win and that’s what matters.
“I always think we are going to be in the games, especially when Joaquin is on the mound. But Mike Ramirez threw a great game against Trenton the other day and our pitchers against Trenton (on April 15) did a great job. We only gave up three runs but ended up on the wrong side of that one.”
And the offense came through when it needed to, getting the winning run across the plate in the 11th inning.
“It was huge for Matt,” Roberts said. “He had a single earlier in the game against their real tough starter and then came through in the biggest way at the end. The fifth spot was a new spot for him today. We decided to shake things up a little looking for some more offense. Even when he was hitting the two spot he was coming up with runners on base.”
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor