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Seniors continue to propel Jackson Memorial in ‘Last Dance World Series’

Jackson Memorial High School pitcher Nick Beetel catches a pop up to end the second inning of the team's game against Washington Township on July 22. Beetel threw five no-hit scoreless innings with five strikeouts to help Jackson Memorial defeat Washington Township 5-3 and advance to the Final Four of the South Jersey Bracket in the Last Dance World Series.

LAKEWOOD – The gang is back together and nobody on the Jackson Memorial High School baseball team is ready for their time on the diamond this summer to end.

Continuing their stellar play in the “Last Dance World Series” after defeating Middlesex, 4-0, July 21, the Jaguars again prevailed in big spots to get by Washington Township with a 5-3 victory on July 22 at FirstEnergy Park to advance to the Final Four of the South Jersey Bracket.

Clutch hitting by seniors Bill Petrina and Tom Cartnick, followed by a sparkling performance from senior lefthander Nick Beetel, helped Jackson Memorial clinch a spot in the elite eight of the summer baseball tournament.

“We’re just letting it fly and riding with our guys,” Coach Frank Malta said. “They are enjoying playing in this tournament. You can see how excited they are and that’s the great thing about this tournament.”

Beetel was a big game pitcher in every way with his five-inning, no-hit outing, striking out five Washington Township batters.

Just like Matt Potok did in a complete game shutout against Middlesex, Beetel shut down the Minutemen lineup and kept the Jaguars in the game.

“I feel like I had to go out there and give a top-tier performance and that’s what I did,” Beetel said. “It feels like we are in the driver’s seat to do big things here. This tournament might go down 10 or 15 years from now as more memorable than a regular spring season.”

Jackson Memorial broke through in the fifth inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Petrina stepped to the plate looking for a curve. He got the pitch he wanted and smoked a shot to left field to score Will Cartnick from second for a 1-0 lead.

“It was unbelievable, to be honest,” Petrina said. “Coming through for the team felt awesome. Having the (2020 high school) season cut short, it wss great to help the team keep going in this tournament.”

Petrina scored on a wild pitch later in the inning as Jackson Memorial added two more runs on passed balls.

Holding a 3-1 lead heading into the seventh inning, Tom Cartnick continued the senior theme by adding a pair of insurance runs with two out. After going hitless in three previous plate appearances, Cartnick smashed a two-run double into the left-center gap to extend the lead to 5-1.

“I wasn’t happy with my first couple of at-bats. I knew it was an RBI spot and that I had to get the runs in,” Cartnick said. “Thankfully, I was able to do that. We wanted to make it to the last week of the tournament and I’m excited to keep playing with the boys.”

Cartnick’s two-run double proved to be the difference in the game as Washington Township mounted a late rally in the bottom of the seventh.

RBI singles by Mark Colligan and Mark Rossi made it 5-3 and the Minutemen had the winning run at the plate in Nick Hammer with runners on first and second and two out.

Malta took out lefthander Zach Crotchfelt and brought in senior righthander Dan Greenwood to face Hammer. Greenwood did the job as he got Hammer to ground to Jake Wendell at third base to clinch Jackson Memorial’s spot in the Final Four of the South Jersey Bracket.

Seniors Christian Pallone, Andrew Sefick and Matt Feld each scored a run in the victory for Jackson Memorial.

Malta is proud of how his 15 seniors have taken ownership of the tournament and were doing their best to lead the team to victory. He said he is pleased they are getting the opportunity they missed in the spring by playing in high profile games.

“When you have a mature senior group like we do, you want to know what they are thinking and what they have to say about the tournament,” Malta said. “I’m happy they are getting the chance to go out and play in high level games. That’s how you want to end your season. It’s fun to play good baseball against good teams.”

Jackson Memorial will face Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen on July 28 at FirstEnergy Park in its next game. The championship game of the “Last Dance World Series” is scheduled for July 31 at Arm & Hammer Park, Trenton.

Jackson Memorial High School designated hitter Will Cartnick is met by teammates at home plate after scoring the game's first run in the fifth inning. Jackson Memorial defeated Washington Township 5-3 on July 22 to advance to the Final Four of the South Jersey Bracket in the Last Dance World Series.
Jackson Memorial High School shortstop Ty Beck fields the chopper and throws out the runner at first base during the team's game against Washington Township on July 22.
Jackson Memorial High School right fielder Bill Petrina celebrates his RBI single in the fifth inning at second base during the team's game against Washington Township on July 22.
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