Anthony Arneth sure proved a point on Tuesday night.
“We’re not just a one-man team,” said Arneth, a junior right-handed pitcher for Central Regional.
The one-man everyone talks about when the topic is the 2014 Central baseball team is senior right-hander Andrew DiPiazza, a University of Alabama recruit and a potential draft choice in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft June 5-7.
DiPiazza played a key role in getting Central to the Ocean County Tournament championship game. Arneth brought the Golden Eagles home to their first OCT title since 1986 and sixth overall.
Arneth pitched a four-hitter and struck out six, while walking three as Central defeated Barnegat, 6-0, before a very good crowd at Toms River East’s Raider Ravine.
“We’re more than Andrew DiPiazza,” said Arneth, who is 5-2 on the season and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Pitcher.
DiPiazza, who won two games and saved another in the tournament and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, said he could tell on Monday Arneth was ready to pitch a big game.
“He was fired up, and he couldn’t wait,” said DiPiazza, who drove in the game’s first run with a single to left in the third and went 2-for-4 in his role as the designated hitter. “I told him, ‘This is yours, go out there and get it. This is going to prove that we can rely on you for other tournaments.’ He stepped up and that was absolutely tremendous.”
Neither DiPiazza nor Barnegat’s standout sophomore left-hander Jason Groome could pitch Tuesday night because of the national federation rule that states a pitcher who pitches more than five innings in a game can not pitch for the following three days. Both DiPiazza and Groome pitched complete-games Saturday in their teams’ OCT semifinal wins.
Central coach John Scran also had a feeling Arneth was sitting on a big performance.
“He was focused,” said Scran, who was on an Ocean County Tournament championship team when he played at Toms River East. “I saw him in school and I asked him how he was doing and he said he was doing great. He was looking forward to this.”
Arneth was never in any trouble. He worked around leadoff singles in both the second and fourth innings by retiring the next three hitters. He got out of a first and second, two-out jam in the fifth with a strikeout. He got nine ground outs, five fly outs and a line out.
“He got to pitch in a huge game and he was able to show his skills,” Scran said. “He kept his composure throughout the whole game and he opened his eyes for him personally because he has a great arm.”
Central (13-6), which has defeated Barnegat in all three meetings between the two Class B South schools, got the only run Arneth would need in the third. Arneth had a role in that when he grounded a one-out single to center. Frank Rose singled with two out before DiPiazza scored courtesy runner Chris Kowalski with his single to left on a 1-0 pitch.
The Golden Eagles added three more in the fourth on a Jake Dominguez RBI single to right and a two-out, two-run single to right by Rich Galati.
Javon Hardy’s two-run single to center past a drawn-in infield in the fifth made it 6-0.
There is no question winning the OCT has special meaning for Central. Al Kunzman, the late, legendary Central head coach and the man who the field Central plays its home games on is named for, founded the OCT in 1972. Central’s five previous OCT titles came under Kunzman.
“I got numerous e-mails and phone calls, one especially from Kevin Williams (the director of the Shore Sports Network who is a Central graduate and was the third base coch for Central’s first OCT title winning team in 1973) who said, ‘Get this back home,’ ” Scran said.