By TOM WILLIAMS
HOPEWELL – The Atlantic Shore 13-and-Under Babe Ruth team needed to win three straight games this week to capture the Southern New Jersey championship.
They did it.
Last night, Atlantic Shore edged Nottingham, 2-0, in the first game of a doubleheader. Then the local team defeated Nottingham again, 12-2, in a six inning game stopped because of the 10-run rule.
It was the fourth championship in the last 10 years for the team, managed by Mike Gill, the award-winning ESPN Radio sportscaster. The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in Ventnor but, when the pandemic surfaced, officials in Ventnor City declined to host the event.
The ultimate championship game last night turned out to be no contest but the first game between the two teams was tight.
Evan Taylor and Finn Haines combined for a three-hit shutout in the first game. Taylor struck out nine, walked two and allowed the three hits in six innings of work. Haines retired the side in order in the seventh inning to get the save.
Atlantic Shore got the only two runs it would need in the third inning when Matt Pashley beat out an infield single with two outs to score Gavin Cohen and Haines came around to score on an error.
In the final game, Cohen led off the bottom of the first with a walk, moved to third base on a hit-and-run single by Colin Thompson. Taylor then hit a sacrifice fly to left and Atlantic Shore had the lead.
They scored four more times in the second inning, highlighted by Thompson’s RBI single and one more sacrifice fly by Taylor. Atlantic Shore made it 6-0 in the third when Matt Bonchek delivered a two-out triple and Luca Bruno drove him home with a single.
After Nottingham scored twice, Atlantic Shore got five in the fifth with Taylor knocking in his third run of the game with a single and Ty Watson getting an RBI double. Andrew Gillman produced what amounted to a walk-off single in the sixth, giving Atlantic Shore a 10-run lead and the victory.
The Nottingham players loaded the bases in each of the first two innings, but came away empty.
Cohen got the win in relief. He came on in the second inning with the bases loaded and no outs, striking out two batters and ending the inning with a pop up.
Bonchek, Bruno and Thompson each had two hits for Atlantic Shore.
Atlantic Shore had lost a 1-0 decision to Nottingham over the weekend that forced them to win on Monday and then twice again last night.
Tournament success is not unusual for Atlantic Shore teams. In addition to the four Southern New Jersey championships by Gill’s 13U team, two other age group teams have won a combined four Southern New Jersey championships in the last 10 years. In addition, Atlantic Shore teams have won seven Middle-Atlantic titles since 2011, highlighted by the World Series championship by the 14U team in 2015.
Because of COVID-19, there are no more tournaments this year. The Middle-Atlantic and World Series competitions have been cancelled.