Cinnaminson edges Mahwah for Group 2 baseball crown

Posted: June 10, 2013

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Cinnaminson second baseman Cole Pewor's at-bat in the seventh inning encompassed a wide range of emotions.

After he hopped around the batter's box hoping to push a pop-up out of play, the energetic senior violently jerked his head after fouling a pitch into the backstop.

Ultimately, Pewor ran to first base with his right index finger in the air, then stood on the bag clapping after his ground ball got through the left side for a single, bringing home the winning run and sending Cinnaminson to a 2-1 victory over defending champion Mahwah in the Group 2 title game at Toms River South.

Pewor knocked in the winning run in the eighth inning in Cinnaminson's semifinal matchup against Monmouth, and his coaches wanted the school's first state title in his hands.

The semifinal "was in the back of my head when I came up," Pewor said. "I'm happy that situation came to me."

"I didn't want to take the bat out of his hands," Cinnaminson coach Kevin Merrill said. "If we were going to win, it was going to be on his bat."

Before Pewor and Cinnaminson (22-9) even had the opportunity to win the game, senior pitcher John Bednarek kept the Pirates in it.

Bednarek tossed a complete game, giving up seven hits and striking out six. An unofficial count had him at 116 pitches, but his coaches did not know or care.

"It didn't matter," Merrill said. "If he's still pumping it, I'm not going to take him off the mound in a state title game.

"When he's on his game, there aren't many people better than him."

Bednarek, who utilized a sharp curveball, never broke character on the mound. Despite battling the nerves of starting the school's first state final and going against Mahwah (27-4), Bednarek was expressionless on the hill.

Even after he retired three consecutive batters, including the final two on strikeouts, to escape a bases-loaded jam in the sixth unscathed, Bednarek did not react until he sneaked through his surrounding teammates to deliver a high five to another Pirate on the top step of the dugout.

"I was a little bit nervous; it's the biggest game of my life," Bednarek said. "I just had to keep my composure and focus on pitching."

Bednarek, who blew a fastball past Mahwah's Eric Kaplan to end the game, finally broke out a grin and a fist pump before becoming the focal point of a dogpile to celebrate the championship.

Cinnaminson 100 000 1 - 2 4 1

Mahwah 001 000 0 - 1 7 1

WP: John Bednarek. LP: Chris Baldi.

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