WEST DEPTFORD – It was the kind of game that creates lasting memories for all of those who were involved.
For the players on the Manasquan High School baseball team, the memories will be happy ones.
For the players from West Deptford - not so much.
Freshman Alex Galvin lined a hit to left field, scoring the only run of the game in the top of the seventh inning as Manasquan edged West Deptford 1-0 Friday in the South Jersey Group 2 championship.
The hit broke up a pitcher’s duel in which Manaquan’s Connor Muly gave up only three hits, while hard-luck loser Jack Murphy gave up only four.
“It was tough,” said Murphy, a sophomore right-hander. “It would have been good to get this game, but I love my seniors and I just want to thank them for giving us such a great year.”
The loss means that West Deptford will not get a chance to defend its state championship, which made the setback just a little more disappointing.
For Manasquan, it kept alive a chance for the team's first state title since 1986.
“It was a well-played game by both sides – a well-pitched game,” said West Deptford coach John Oehler. “But you know what? Somebody is going to come up with a big hit and they did.”
It was a game of limited opportunities for both teams.
West Deptford had only one real chance to score when Murphy led off the fifth inning with a double. At that point he was replaced by a pinch-runner who was promptly picked off ending.
Otherwise, like Murphy, Muly almost always seemed like he had control of the situation.
“It was a very stressful game,” Muly said. “It’s been a long time since we won a state championship, so this was a game we wanted to win.”
Muly was hardly ever in trouble. He gave up hits to the first two batters he faced, a single by Darren McKeown and a bunt single to Drew Wilden who was trying to sacrifice.
But a line-drive double play and a ground out got him out of trouble. The only other hit was Murphy’s double.
“Connor has been awesome all year for us,” said Manasquan coach Bob Waldeyer. “He pitched a heckuva game for us. He didn’t let up and he just kept pumping strikes.”
Meanwhile, Murphy was hardly in any trouble until the seventh.
He had a runner reach third in the first inning, but a nice catch by right fielder Chris Leporati retired the side. He faced only 16 batters over the ensuing five innings.
Murphy gave up two singles, but one baserunner was erased on a nice double play started by shortstop Kyle Garrison.
He struck out five and walked none, though he did hit a batter.
“Jack threw great,” said Oehler. “For a sophomore, for the first time in a really big situation, for him to step up the way he did was impressive.”
Trouble began for Murphy after he had already recorded two outs in the top of the seventh.
Adam Schreck got the Manasquan rally started with a single. Then a pinch-runner stole second base on a close call.
Up stepped Galvin, who hit a clean line drive over the head of the third baseman. The ball was bobbled slightly in left field, but it appeared the run would have scored anyway.
“When I saw that hit go into left field, I said, `this is it,’” said Muly. “`We’re going to score a run right here.’ It was a great feeling.”
With the lead, Muly didn’t let up at all in the bottom of the seventh inning when he retired the side in order. That completed a streak in which he set down 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
“We just didn’t get anything going,” Oehler said. “He (Muly) was constantly getting ahead, so . . . that was it."