HADDONFIELD – The Haddonfield baseball team was nothing if not confident on a sun drenched Tuesday afternoon at Russ Spicer Field. The Bulldawgs entered a South Jersey Group 2 semifinal game against Delran confident in their game plan against the Bears ace Luke Smith and on their home field, they felt assured they had all scenarios covered.
Well that is with one possible miscalculation.
“We we’re so ready to play today that I think we were a little too anxious,” said Haddonfield baseball coach, who recently won for the 300th time in charge of the program. “I think you saw that in the first two innings. Heck we swung at the very first pitch of the game.
“They had a lead and by the third inning, we needed a good at-bat. We needed to show ourselves that we could hit (Smith). We got that good at-bat and from there we played really well.”
Haddonfield, ranked No.8 in the SJSD Top 10 beat No.9 Delran 9-2 to advance to the South Jersey Group 2 Final on Friday when they will play host to Pt. Pleasant Boro, a 5-4 winner over west Deptford, on Friday. Dylan Heine worked seven innings and scattered six hits to get the win while Connor MacNeil hit a three-run home run to hand the Dawgs (16-5) a commanding lead but all of that may have never happened had not Bauer Fichter come through with the biggest at bat of the season.
“Without a doubt, that hit changed the game,” Bickle said.
“We knew (Smith) was a very good pitcher,” Fichter said. “He put us on our heels in the first two innings and they had a lead. I just wanted to have a good at bat. I wanted to make solid contact and get us going.”
Down 1-0, Fichter hit a 2-1 offering to dead center and a ground rule double as the ball bounced over the fence. The moment did not go unnoticed by his teammates, who were vocal for the first time at the start of the inning.
“We knew we just needed one hit to get going,” said Heine, who struck out three and retired seven straight to end the game. “I think we were too excited before the game. Too anxious to get started. That at bat got us back in the game.”
A sacrifice and a ground out with the infield in had Delran (18-6) in position to escape the inning but consecutive single by Alex Kadar and Steve DiTomasso – and infield hit to second in which he barely beat the throw tied the game at 1-1 and triple by John Cristino put the Dawgs up 3-1.
“We settled in after that,” Heine said. “For me the pressure was off. I was able to hit the corners better with my fastball and then I started to work everything else in.”
Haddonfield tacked on a run in the fourth and in the fifth, the third time around against Smith, the Bulldawgs bats truly came alive. In the inning Haddonfield used five hits, a pair of walks and a Connor MacNeil blast to dead center to build a 9-2 lead.
“My third time through I had a good feel for how (Smith was going to come at me,” MacNeil said. “I thought I’d only see one fastball but when he threw me it again, I just made good contact.”
Delran 100 100 0 --- 2- 6-0
Haddonfield 003 150 X --- 9-13-0
WP: Dylan Heine. LP: Luke Smith. 2B: Tyler LeRoy, D; Chris Brown, Bauer Fichter, H. 3B: John Cristino, H. HR: Connor MacNeil, H
Haddonfield senior Connor MacNeil who hit a three-run home run that secured a 9-2 win over Delran in the South Jersey Group 2 semifinals.