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Umanzor single lifts Mustangs over Raritan in Monmouth County Tournament

Marlboro High School senior Julian Umanzor had a day to remember on April 23 when the Mustangs faced Raritan High School of Hazlet in the preliminary round of the Monmouth County Tournament.

Umanzor delivered three hits and three RBIs and capped his day at the plate with a game-winning single as the Mustangs defeated the Rockets, 5-4, in Marlboro.

“It feels great,” Umanzor said. “My swing felt really good and I felt good driving the ball to left field. I felt like I prepared for this. I expect this out of myself and look forward to doing the same thing in the future.”

Umanzor delivered his game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning with the game tied 4-4.

In the seventh, senior Julian Buchman walked with one out. Following a lineout to third by Daniel Talarico, Buchman stole second. Then, Alex D’Ambrosio was hit by a pitch thrown by Raritan freshman James Nichols to put runners on first and second.

As Umanzor stepped to the plate, he expected to see fastballs from Nichols after D’Ambrosio was hit with a breaking ball.

“I had a lot of confidence going into that at bat,” Umanzor said. “He threw two curveballs to D’Ambrosio and hit him with one, so I knew he had no confidence in that pitch and that a fastball was going to come.”

Umanzor pulled the first fastball he saw during his at bat foul. On the next fastball he saw, Umanzor drove the pitch down the left field line for a single that brought Buchman home with the winning run.

Umanzor was mobbed by his happy teammates after delivering the first game-winning hit of his career.

“That was something else,” he said of being mobbed by the Mustangs. “It was really fun. It feels good to help the team win.”

D’Ambrosio earned the win in relief of starter Tyler Villa. D’Ambrosio came on with two out in the sixth and the game tied 4-4. The junior kept Raritan off the board while he recorded four outs, including two strikeouts.

In the seventh, D’Ambrosio struck out Ben Hutchins with runners on second and third to keep the score tied and give the Mustangs a chance to win in their final at bat.

“I just wanted to throw strikes and let my defense make plays behind me,” D’Ambrosio said. “This was a very important win. I like where our mindset is right now.”

D’Ambrosio reached base in all five plate appearances. He had a single and walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run. Senior Shawn McNiff drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Villa pitched 5.2 innings, allowed one earned run and struck out seven hitters.

Marlboro (5-6) is on a three-game winning streak after losing six straight games.

Coach Craig Helfgott likes what he has seen from his players during the three-game win streak, which includes a 5-2 victory over Middletown North and a 22-run outburst against Long Branch on April 22.

“I am proud of these kids,” he said. “They are starting to come together as a team and are turning things around.”

In 2021, Marlboro started 2-5, but finished 15-9 and reached the championship game of the Central Jersey Group IV state sectional tournament.

Helfgott called his team’s resurgence this season “eerily similar” to what last year’s team accomplished.

“We have again done a good job of getting our season back to where it needed to be,” he said. “The kids are doing a good job. They will be where they want to be if they continue to take things one game at a time and focus on the task at hand.”

The Mustangs will face Long Branch on April 26 and then Colts Neck in the first round of the Monmouth County Tournament on April 30.

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