WASHINGTON TWP. – Eric Cartafalsa couldn’t contain his smile.
The senior stood in the batter’s box on his home field with two out in the fifth and looked more like a kid on Christmas morning than sixth hitter in the Minutmen’s lineup. In a game that had already seen drama on the mound for the Township pitching staff, Cartafalsa found himself in a position he hasn’t been in since he first put on a high school uniform.
“I looked at the (Bordentown) catcher and said ‘please don’t embarrass me, I haven’t hit since eighth grade,” Cartafalsa said. “I took one, failed on a bunt and struck out. It was fun. It’s not what I’m here to do.”
Cartafalsa worked four innings of relief as the Minutemen beat Bordentown 2-1 in the opening round of the 45th Annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic. In an odd twist, the Minutemen (11-10) were the visitor on their home field as one of the tournament’s four hosts, which came after eight straight road games.
“It’s been a long road,” said Township head coach Bob Kelly, whose team went 2-6 in that stretch. “On the bus home yesterday (after a 5-2 loss to Cherry Hill East) I looked at the kids and they were tired. I’m tired.”
“There are no short bus rides for us,” joked senior catcher Anthony Buffone. “Every ride is long and we are tired. It was good today to be at home even if we were the visitor’s on the scoreboard.’
Bordentown sophomore starter Nick Nemes worked an assortment of off-speed pitches to keep Township from any big innings. The Minutemen had runners on base throughout the first four innings but failed to score a single run and the Scotties found a way to break through in the fourth for a 1-0 lead.
“Hopefully over the next week or so we can get some rest and get our staff some energy,” Kelly said. “We were fortunate that Eric came out and battled. He’s been working for this moment for the past four years. He’s really been strong for us all season.”
Township was in a conundrum anyway after starter Nick Hammer left the game in the second with a knot in his throwing arm. Hammer gave way to Marc-Anthony Rodriguez, who worked the third and one hitter in the fourth before he was pulled in favor of Cartafalsa with one on and no outs.
“I worked from the stretch and I think I’m just going to stick with it,’ the senior said. “I found a mechanical issue in the bullpen. But my velocity was up today and I had better control.
Cartafalsa coaxed a fielder’s choice for the first out but surrendered a double to Chris Wade that put the Scotties up 1-0. A strikeout caught stealing ended the threat and Cartafalsa retired the next nine hitters he face for the win.
“I started with my fastball and got into a good rhythm,” Cartafalsa said. That’s all you can really do out of the bullpen.”
Still, the Minutemen needed to score and in the top half of the fifth, a single by sophomore Christian Kane opened the key inning against Nemes. After a fly out, Kane stole second and scored on a single into center by Lorenzo Morello. An errant throw home moved Morrello to second and a fly out to right put Morello on third.
Already with one hit on the day, Buffone hit a blooper down the right field line that stayed fair and Morrello easily scored for a 2-1 lead.
“Not my sharpest hit of the day,” Buffone said. “But I’m not going to be picky.”
Washington Twp. 000 020 0 -- 2 5 2
Bordentown 000 100 x -- 1 2 1
WP: Eric Cartafalsa. LP: Nick Nemes. 2B: Chris Wade, B.
Washington Twp. 2, Bordentown 1
St. Augustine 4, Gloucester Catholic 3
Holy Spirit 3, Shawnee 1
West Deptford 10, Riverside 0
Eastern 3, Haddonfield 1
Seneca 10,. Gloucester 0
Tuesday, May 15
Ocean City vs. Bishop Eustace at Maple Shade 4
Friday, May 18
Clearview vs. Gateway at Hammonton 4 p.m.
Saturday, May 19
at Washington Twp.
Clearview/Gateway winner vs. Eastern, 10:30 a.m.
Holy Spirit vs. Washington Twp. 1 p.m.
Ocean City/Bishop Eustace winner vs.West Deptford, 10:30 a.m.
St. Augustine vs. Seneca, 1 p.m.