St. Joseph falls in final

Posted: June 09, 2014

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Considering the postseason run the St. Joseph baseball team had, falling behind by seven runs after four innings wasn't exactly unfamiliar territory.

The Wildcats had rallied from an eight-run deficit in the Non-Public B South semifinal and a two-run hole in the sectional final on their way to their first state final since 1977.

However, there would be no rally Saturday.

Brandon Pilovsky pitched a two-hitter, and Hudson Catholic scored five unearned runs in the third inning as it defeated St. Joseph, 7-0, to win the Non-Public B state title at Toms River North. It was the first state baseball championship in school history.

The loss ended a magical run for St. Joseph (16-14), which had stunned top-seeded Holy Spirit as an eighth seed in the South B quarterfinals. The Wildcats were 6-10 when they were seeded on May 9.

"I told my kids I was very proud of them. This is something at the start of the season I would never expect," St. Joseph coach Rich Chini said.

Hudson Catholic (19-7) tagged St. Joseph starter C.J. LaFragola for five unearned runs in a disastrous third inning for the Wildcats. After allowing back-to-back walks to start the inning, LaFragola fielded a bunt by Mike Albunia and threw wide to first base to bring in Matt Bolger and make the score 2-0. LaFragola then threw a wild pitch to score Chris Garcia.

The next Hawks batter, Mikal Trice, reached second after centerfielder Salaam Horne lost a fly ball in the sun. After LaFragola induced two outs, Victor Guzman blasted a three-run homer to left to make it 6-0.

LaFragola left after three innings. All six of the runs he allowed were unearned.

"They put the ball in play," Chini said. "We kicked some balls around and gave them a chance. We walked a couple guys. We gave them opportunities."

The Wildcats didn't fare much better at the plate. Pilovsky struck out four and allowed more than one base runner in an inning only twice.

"[Pilovsky] worked his change-up, his fastball, and his curveball. Kept us off balance at the plate," said Horne, a sophomore who walked twice and stole two bases.

Despite the disappointing end, this postseason run will still be one to remember for St. Joseph, as it was the Wildcats' second state-final appearance in school history.

"We made a good run," senior catcher Jimmy Teran said. "We made a name for the school this year."

St. Joseph 000 000 0 - 0 2 5

Hudson Catholic 015 100 x - 7 5 0

WP: Brandon Pilovsky. LP: C.J. LaFragola. HR: HC-Victor Guzman.

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