The Red Hawks didn’t lay any type of eggs Easter weekend as they beat the Stockton University Ospreys in both games of a doubleheader.
The Red Hawks entered this affair with an 11-6 record, this being their first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) matchup of the year. In game one, Brian Reiss took the mound for Montclair. The lefty was coming into this one owning a 2-0 record with a 2.18 ERA over 20 innings pitched and 19 strikeouts.
This outing would see much to what he has been displaying all season. His pitching kept him in control of the games. Reiss had a shaky start but settled in nicely after giving up two one-out hits in the top of the second inning, giving Stockton a 1-0 lead. The lead would not hold for long, as in the bottom half of the frame Brody Labbe got it started with a rocket to short that bounced off the shortstop’s hands and went into center field. Aidan Stupp’s RBI ground out would then tie the game at 1-1.
In the third, Reiss got into a little trouble, but he finagled his way out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the game tied. He was attacking hitters, which, while it may have gotten him into trouble, was also beneficial because he was able to be economically efficient in terms of his pitch count. Not just Reiss either, but Ray Hughes of Stockton was also lights out, as the both of them dueled it out in a 1-1 game until the sixth inning.
In the sixth, Stockton would crack the knotted score with two two-out hits putting them with first and third on the base paths. This would be Reiss’ only blunder in a solid outing. With the situation at hand, he tried to make a pickoff attempt to first base and threw it wildly. The run scored, it was 2-1 Stockton heading into later innings.
Reiss would be relieved after the seventh, becoming a bullpen game for Montclair there on. Another run would cross in the seventh off Anthony DeBlasio, making it 3-1. Then, freshman and big slugger, Andrew Ollwerther, made new relief pitcher Zach Fillmore of Stockton pay after a two-out error on their shortstop. He smoked a three-run bomb to left putting Montclair up 4-3.
The game was not done yet, as the Ospreys took a 6-4 lead after Montclair State’s Austin Minton blew the save giving up three earned runs. In the bottom half of the ninth, the Red Hawks would catch some magic.
After two walks, a single and a wild pitch, the Hawks were down 6-5 with the hero of the game coming to bat. Nick Martinez singled to left field, scoring Joe Norton and Connor Kelly for the walk-off win 7-6. The winning pitcher would be Michael Manfra after he helped clean up the mess in the ninth. Martinez on the day went 2-4 with 2 RBI leading the way.
Game two rolled on, starting pitcher for the Red Hawks was senior veteran Connor Lindsay. He was looking for his fourth win of the year, owning a 2.05 ERA over 22 innings pitched. However, he’d also run into some early inning trouble. After a lead-off double, Stockton would strike first after an error on the shortstop, Hayden Reyes making it 1-0.
Lindsay settled in following the first inning trouble, and the Red Hawks tied it back up in the bottom of the second after a pass ball scored Ollwerther. Justin Bates, the catcher for the Red Hawks, is a very big reason why this game never got out of hand in the later innings plate unlike the Ospreys backstops where pass balls were going by often and leading to runs.
Montclair broke it open with a Chris Roth two RBI double, and a Norton bloop single in the fourth inning, giving Montclair a 4-1 lead. In the fifth, Stockton plated two runs to shrink the deficit. With the score 4-3 and the Red Hawks heading into the sixth, the Ospreys showed true grit, tying it up on a single 4-4.
Not much would happen after that except for Martinez, who again did his job – driving in Norton on a sacrifice fly giving the Hawks a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Nick Cocchia came in and shut the door in relief throwing 1.2 innings, striking out two to get his second win of the season.
After the sweep of the doubleheader, Montclair will face Purchase College at Yogi Berra Stadium on Tuesday, April 3 at 3:30 p.m. and looking for their 14th win on the season.