Potok’s complete game gem sends Jackson Memorial to regional final

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Jackson Memorial High School pitcher Matt Potok fires in a strike during the team's game against Saint Joseph High School on July 28. Potok racked up nine strikeouts in his complete-game performance to help Jackson Memorial defeat Saint Joseph Metuchen 6-1 and advance to the South Jersey Bracket Regional final in the Last Dance World Series.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Memorial High School second baseman Christian Pellone completes the 6-4-3 double play by throwing out the runner at first base during the team's game against Saint Joseph High School on July 28. Pellone had an RBI sacrifice fly in Jackson Memorial's 6-1 victory over Saint Joseph Metuchen.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Saint Joseph High School third baseman Nikko Matos reaches base safely on a ball hit in the infield during the team's game against Jackson Memorial on July 28. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Memorial High School pitcher Matt Potok fires in a strike during the team's game against Saint Joseph High School on July 28. Potok racked up nine strikeouts in his complete-game performance to help Jackson Memorial defeat Saint Joseph Metuchen 6-1 and advance to the South Jersey Bracket Regional final in the Last Dance World Series.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Memorial High School second baseman Christian Pellone completes the 6-4-3 double play by throwing out the runner at first base during the team's game against Saint Joseph High School on July 28. Pellone had an RBI sacrifice fly in Jackson Memorial's 6-1 victory over Saint Joseph Metuchen.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Saint Joseph High School third baseman Nikko Matos reaches base safely on a ball hit in the infield during the team's game against Jackson Memorial on July 28. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

Matt Potok has put on a show from the pitcher’s mound during the “Last Dance World Series” for the team representing Jackson Memorial High School of Jackson.

First, the junior righthander tossed four perfect innings in a 4-0 victory over a team representing Brick Memorial High School of Brick Township in pool play.

He followed that performance with a complete game shutout against Middlesex to help the Jaguars advance to the quarterfinals of the South Jersey bracket of the summer baseball tournament.

On July 28 at FirstEnergy Park, Lakewood, Potok crafted another complete game performance with nine strikeouts to lead the Jaguars to a 6-1 victory over Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen and into the South Jersey bracket regional final.

Jackson Memorial will play Bishop Eustace in the regional final at FirstEnergy Park at 7 p.m. tonight, July 29. Tonight’s winner will advance to the tournament’s championship game on July 31 at Arm & Hammer Park, Trenton.

“I just went out there and threw strikes,” Potok said. “My teammates made a bunch of good plays and put a bunch of runs up against two good pitchers. I think we all did a phenomenal job.”

First baseman Carmine Petosa put the Jaguars on the board first with a booming two-out RBI-double in the first inning.

Jackson Memorial scored four of its six runs with two out in the contest.

“Hit the ball hard and get the run in,” Petosa said. “When you have that approach, good things are going to happen. Our offense has been hot in the tournament. We’re all pumped up for the finals and ready to go.”

The Jaguars took firm control of the game with a four-run second inning, knocking out Saint Joseph starter Donovan Zsak.

An RBI infield single by Bill Petrina and a sacrifice fly by Christian Pellone extended the lead to 3-0.

With runners on second and third and two out, senior catcher Tom Cartnick stepped to the plate. Just like he has done throughout the tournament, the senior came up with the clutch hit his team needed.

Cartnick blasted an opposite field shot that clipped the right field wall for a two-run triple that gave Jackson Memorial a 5-0 lead.

 

“The more we win, the more loose we are and the better we play, which is awesome to see,” Cartnick said. “We didn’t have that last year. We have something to prove in this tournament and that’s what we are trying to do.”

After Saint Joseph scored in the fifth inning on an error, Potok settled down and recorded his eighth strikeout to end the inning.

Potok gave up one more hit the rest of the way and tossed a perfect seventh inning to close his gem. The junior is 3-0 in the tournament and has only allowed one unearned run.

“I just try to throw fastballs in the zone and let them hit it,” Potok said. “I know if they put the ball in play, my teammates will make the plays behind me in the field. They always do.”

Senior Matt Feld added a two-out RBI-double in the sixth inning.

Designated hitter Chris Cartnick had two hits and scored two runs for Jackson Memorial.

The loss signaled the end of the line for Saint Joseph’s emotional run in the tournament that included five impressive victories.

The Falcons rallied around the death of former teammate Daniel Anderl, who died at the hands of a gunman at his parents’ home in North Brunswick on July 19. Following Anderl’s death, Saint Joseph won two games to advance to the South Jersey bracket Final Four.

Senior John Zarnowski had a hit and scored the team’s only run against Jackson Memorial.

Senior Adam Boucher pitched well in five innings of relief, allowing one run on three hits with eight strikeouts. He added a double at the plate. Catcher Mark Gialluisi also had a hit for the Falcons.

“I’m happy that after the second inning we were able to settle everything down and play a good baseball game from there,” Saint Joseph Coach Mike Murray said. “Jackson Memorial is a really good team and we knew that going in. I wasn’t shocked our team made it to the third week of the tournament and played in these types of games.”