Freehold Township was one out away from defeat in its season opener on Monday at two-time defending NJSIAA Group IV champion Manalapan.
The Patriots, the defending Monmouth County Tournament champion, had a runner on first and two out in the top of the seventh inning.
However, three batters later, Freehold Township had the lead and then went on to record a dramatic 4-3 win in a Shore Conference Class A North game.
Junior third baseman Chris Talbott’s grand slam to right on a 1-1 pitch capped the stunning turn of events.
Steve Derby and Julius Saporito had preceded Talbott’s grand slam with an infield single between third and shortstop and a walk respectively.
Rob Roth had started the rally by drawing a one-out walk. Sam Beres then grounded into a forceout at second.
Senior left-hander Kevin Checkett then nailed it down in the bottom of the seventh to pick up the save. Checkett hit a batter with one out, but then struck out the game’s final two hitters.
Junior right-hander Joe Decelie had pitched a scoreless sixth inning in relief to pick up his first varsity win.
Manalapan, ranked No. 5 in the Asbury Park Press Preseason Top 10, had built its lead as starter Matt Simonetti pitched three-hit ball over the first six innings and James Halasy went 3-for-4 with two RBI.
MIDD. SOUTH 4, MIDD. NORTH 1: Frank Servidio’s RBI single in the top of the eighth inning broke a 1-1 tie as the No. 9 Eagles (1-0, 1-0) defeated the Lions (0-1, 0-1) in a Class A North game.
Nick McGann followed Servidio’s hit with a suicide squeeze bunt that wound up as a single, too. Rob Grilli’s sacrifice bunt made it 4-1.
Middletown South had tied the game in the top of the seventh.
Senior Perry Kulaga pitched a complete-game five-hitter to pick up the win. He struck out five and walked one.
Middletown North’s Chris Stark pitched 71/3 innings of three-hit ball.
RARITAN 5, HOLMDEL 4: Jon Dressler’s single with one out in the bottom of the seventh scored Paul Coldanato with the winning run as the Rockets (1-0, 1-0) defeated the Hornets (0-1, 0-1) in a Class A Central game and give head coach Jeff Struble his first career coaching win.
Coldanato had reached on an error and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Dom Guida and Nick Pasquenza both went 3-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and two RBI for Raritan.
Joe Sadler had a solo home run in the first for Holmdel.
MATAWAN 7, LONG BRANCH 0: Senior Justin Harnett pitched five innings of one-hit ball and senior Anthony Principe had two RBI as the Huskies (1-0, 1-0) defeated the Green Wave (0-1, 0-1) in a Class B North game and gave coach Bobby Carnovsky his first career coaching win.
Pat Depaolo went 3-for-3 and had an RBI. Dan Incle went 2-for-3 with a triple and scored two runs.
MARLBORO 10, HOWELL 1: Anthony Asta went 2-for-3 with two walks and three RBI, Jeff Goldrosen 3-for-4 with two RBI and Adam Ashenfarb pitched five innings of four-hit ball and struck out seven as the Mustangs (1-0, 1-0) defeated the Rebels (0-1, 0-1) in a Class A North game.
OCEAN 9, NEPTUNE 4: Kevin Buell struck out nine and allowed five hits over six innings and Jerome Cevetello went 2-for-4 as the Spartans (1-0, 1-0) defeated the Scarlet Fliers (0-1, 0-1) in a Class B North game.
MONS. DONOVAN 3, GOOCHLAND (VA.) 1: Senior left-hander Aiden Ryan struck out seven, pitched a complete-game four-hitter and allowed just an unearned run, senior first baseman Rich Power broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth and sophomore third baseman Russ Petranto had an RBI single in the first and had two hits as the Griffins (1-0) recorded the win in Orlando, Fla.
Goochland is the alma mater of Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander.