HAMMONTON – When Northern Burlington High School catcher Bret Parlante stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning Saturday, a good friend stood on the mound 60 feet, 6 inches away.
It was Buena pitcher Denny Brady, a summer-league teammate of Parlante’s the last two years.
Brady had Parlante’s number in his first three at-bats, striking out the Greyhounds senior in the first, fourth and sixth innings of the opening round of the 42nd annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic at Hammonton High School.
So with the game tied 2-2 in extra innings and Parlante waiting on deck with two outs, Buena opted to intentionally walk 3-hole hitter Ryan Shinn to reach Parlante.
“It gives me a little extra oomph when I go up to the plate because it says to me that they’d rather pitch to me than the guy before me,” Parlante said. “That gives me the fire to go out there and prove to them that they made a mistake by walking that guy ahead of me.”
Parlante responded by pushing a Brady fastball through the hole that scored shortstop Kevin Welsh for the go-ahead run in a 4-2 Northern Burlington win. The Greyhounds will meet Haddonfield — 8-1 winners over Rancocas Valley — in the second round of the tournament May 16 at Washington Township High School at 10:30 a.m.
Northern Burlington (18-3) walloped Buena, 17-0, in a nonleague game on April 27. The team knew things would be different this time around with Brady, an East Carolina recruit, on the hill. The senior right-hander struck out 13 Greyhounds batters Saturday.
“We knew we were going to come out here and face a good pitcher,” Parlante said. “I’ve known Denny for a while and he’s a great pitcher, definitely. He’s got some good stuff, but we were able to put some barrels on the ball and come out here, put some hits together and win this ballgame.”
It was Buena (16-5) that found the scoreboard first in the Diamond tilt.
Greyhounds starting pitcher Eric Stinglen hit center fielder Jordan Ellis with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Buena its first baserunner of the game. Ellis then stole second and Brady knocked him in with an RBI single to left field for a 1-0 Chiefs lead.
Northern Burlington responded in the top of the sixth, as Welsh scored on a pitch that made its way to the backstop after originally reaching base on a one-out walk. Shinn then drove home leadoff hitter Tyler O’Dell on a two-out single and the Greyhounds went ahead, 2-1.
Buena would tie the game on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh, but stranded two runners and was hurt by a costly baserunning mistake in the frame.
The Greyhounds would add an insurance run in the eighth when Shinn scored from second base on a passed ball strikeout. Shinn, running all the way on the play, came home when Buena catcher George DiBiase tried to throw out Adam Rapp at first after the swing and miss.
The miscues and missed opportunities irked Buena coach Harry Grose.
“I’m just disappointed in our plate approaches more than anything today,” Grose said. “The passed balls are very disappointing. Bad baserunning, we could have had some runs there, and that’s what our designated runners do? We made the bigger mistakes that cost us the game.”
Disappointed with his own mistake behind the plate that allowed Buena to send the game to extra innings, Parlante was hoping for a shot at redemption and received it in the eighth inning when he delivered the eventual game-winning RBI.
“The inning before, I let that ball get past me and they scored a run, and I knew I had to come up there and be big for my team and get that run back, pick myself up,” Parlante said. “I just focused on trying to hit a fastball up the middle, but got a little out in front and luckily it got through the infield to get us another run on the board.”
Anthony Coppola; firstname.lastname@example.org
NORTHERN BURLINGTON 4
- Player of the game: Despite the loss, Buena senior pitcher Denny Brady was the most dominant player on the field, going all eight innings and striking out 13 while allowing just four hits.
- Play of the game: Northern Burlington catcher Bret Parlante delivered the decisive go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning after striking out in his three prior at-bats.
- Well said: “Our focus was to try and get one run, we just focused on one run, but luckily we were able to put four on the board and were able to move on to the next round and this was a big win, definitely.” — Greyhounds catcher Bret Parlante