Marc Narducci: Battle-tested Audubon advances to final

Posted: June 06, 2012

EWING, N.J. - They are used to the drill, but that doesn't make the exercise any easier for Audubon's baseball program.

The Green Wave earned their third straight trip to the state championship game with Tuesday's 4-1 win over Florence in the state Group 1 semifinal at the College of New Jersey.

This score gives the appearance that it was a downright breather for Audubon compared to recent games, but that is awfully deceiving.

Audubon winning pitcher Kevin Kraemer departed with the Green Wave leading by 4-1 and two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Kraemer struck out 12 and gave way to closer James Schroth, who once again shut the proverbial door with a game-ending strikeout.

Good luck persuading anybody on Audubon that this game was much easier than recent state-tournament nail-biters.

Yet it was no more difficult than the 3-2 win over Haddon Township in the South Jersey Group 1 final. Or the 4-3 South Jersey Group 1 semifinal win over Pennsville, or even the 4-3 quarterfinal triumph over Pitman.

"It's been a little nerve-racking," Kraemer conceded.

No more nerve-racking than trying to solve the Audubon lefthander. This is the third straight year that Kraemer has been the winning pitcher in a state semifinal.

"It's three times and means more because I'm a senior," he said.

Audubon will attempt to close the deal when it meets Pompton Lakes in Saturday's state final at a site to be determined.

It probably means a little extra to compete in its third straight state final because Audubon realizes how difficult it was to get there once again.

Blame Florence (14-11) for that.

Last season, the Flashes lost in this same game to Audubon, 6-5 in eight innings.

And now with a team that was hit hard by graduation, the Flashes defended their sectional title in a year in which they were just the No. 6 seed in Central Jersey.

"It's a situation where we didn't make the plays today and we went up against a storied program, a team that has been there and been involved in a lot of close games," Florence coach Joe Frappolli said.

Audubon frankly hasn't torn the cover off the ball this season, but with Kraemer and Saturday's projected starter, Andrew Schorr, the Green Wave have a lefthanded combo as good as any in South Jersey and possibly beyond.

Audubon had to manufacture runs, scoring in the first without a hit, with Schorr's sacrifice fly driving in Josh McShane, who had walked, stolen second and been sacrificed to third.

McShane scored the second run in the third on an error.

The Flashes got one back in the fourth on Keith Fillmyer's triple and starting pitcher Greg Perri's RBI single.

Audubon added two unearned runs in the seventh, the first on a throwing error and the second on an RBI single by catcher Boomer Wickersham, one of South Jersey's true clutch players this year.

And when Florence loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, that cushion looked as if it might be needed.

Then Schroth got the game-ending strikeout and Audubon (23-7) was headed to familiar territory, the state final.

Audubon   1010002 - 470

Florence   0001000 - 152

WP Kevin Kraemer. LP: Greg Perri. 2B: A-Andrew Schorr. 3B: F-Heath Fillmyer.


Contact Marc Narducci at 856,779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com or @sjnard on Twitter. Find his Rally columns at www.philly.com/narducci

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