By Jeff Appelblatt
Freehold High School baseball coach Jon Block had his feelings shoot up and down tremendously in the recent game at Manalapan High School.
One of his team’s top pitchers, Dan Chiusano, gave the Braves seven runs in the first two innings. The Colonials had Chiusano’s back, though. The team scored five runs in the top of the seventh, which included a two-run home run by Phil Marantonio.
Freehold’s dugout went from groans and mumbles to utter excitement. The 7-0 deficit Chiusano and his team faced quickly turned into a 9-7 lead.
Chiusano’s pitching was under control from the third through sixth innings, and he went out for the last frame. However, after one walk, the senior found himself back in the dugout because he threw his 110th pitch — the maximum a pitcher is allowed to throw in a single outing according to new state rules.
Chiusano ended up in the position to have no decision, and Manalapan stole the game right back.
The Braves scored three runs off relief pitchers Nick Aiello and Pat White, and Freehold lost the game, 10-9.
After the crushing loss, Freehold’s coach just wanted to think ahead to the next game.
“We have a game tomorrow. We have a game tomorrow,” Block said. “We’ve got to forget today and come out tomorrow.
“It was a very disappointing game going down, 7-0.”
Nine runs, however, was enough for Freehold to win the next day’s game against Howell High School. The Colonials scored four runs in the first inning and five runs over the following four innings to take a 9-2 lead going into the sixth before wrapping up the 9-3 win.
Mark Costanzo hit a shot past the fence in the win. It was the first career home run for the junior. On the day, he finished with two hits and two RBIs.
Matt Granato, Tom Holdorf and Isaiah Howard also contributed two hits apiece.
Meanwhile, Dane DellaValle upped his record to a perfect 3-0 on the mound this year. He threw 104 pitches over six innings and allowed the Rebels to get around only two earned runs.
Freehold (6-4) had off for five days following the win against Howell. It finally took on Freehold Township High School April 25 in the local rivals’ second meeting of the season. The Colonials won the first match, 5-1.
Next up for Freehold will be a trip to Marlboro High School April 27. The 4 p.m. game will also be the second of the year for the division foes. The Colonials handled the Mustangs (5-6), 10-0, April 7.