JERSEY SHORE - The Crickets were chirping in Jersey Shore Tuesday night.
Playing all aspects of the game well, the Beech Creek American Legion Junior Crickets defeated top-seeded Jersey Shore by a 3-1 final to advance to the title game of the West Branch League tournament.
With the win, Shore will now face Watsontown for the third time in five days tonight with a 5:30 p.m. start. The winner of that game will face Beech Creek Thursday in the first of two possible championship games.
"Our defense looked really good today," BC head coach Joe Caprio said. "This is the toughest team we faced all year. I told the guys coming in that we were going to have a battle with them, but I also told them that we were only going to have to beat them once or twice when it really counts to put us in post-season play and so far, we are doing good."
Obviously disappointed with the loss, Shore head coach Steve Welsh felt it was just a matter of the Crickets taking care of business.
"They made plays when they had to," Welsh said. "They made just about all of the defensive plays and they hit the ball when they need to hit the ball. They got the three runs when they needed them and they got the job done."
Post 623 starting pitcher Darrin Masorti gave his team three strong innings before running into trouble in the fourth, and that is when Caprio handed the ball to Tony Saltsman and the big righthander did the job.
"Masorti pitched well until he ran into trouble in the fourth," Caprio said. "As for Saltsman, the last time we were here he hurt his knee warming up. This is only his second day back, so we just didn't know what kind of stamina he had. He looked good warming up, but the big question mark for him was how far he was going to be able to go."
Welsh agreed with Caprio about the combined efforts of his pitchers.
"They both got it done," Welsh said. "If you look at the scoreboard it reads 3-1 and we only scored one run off of them. We didn't get the timely hits we needed and although we hit the ball hard, we hit it right at them for the most part. We had runners on base, but we just didn't get it done."
While Masorti was rolling along, his teammates put together a two-run second inning before adding another run in the third for a 3-0 lead. Masorti drove in the first Beech Creek run with a RBI single to right before a Shore error led to the second tally.
In the third, Ethan McGill, who finished 2-for-4 with a single and double, led off with a single. David Kohen forced McGill to second when he worked a walk off Shore pitcher Travis Bradley and McGill stole third before scoring on a Masorti sacrifice fly to center.
"We got some timely hits in the holes and the baserunners did a great job reading where the ball was," Caprio said. "They listened to their base coaches and didn't make any mistakes on the basepaths and that was big for us."
Trailing 3-0, Shore scored its only run of the game in the fourth and it could have been more.
Zach Miller led off with a triple deep into the leftfield corner and was immediately chased home by Brody Smith's sacrifice fly to right.
Levi Lorson and Trey Newcomer came up with back-to-back singles for first-and-second with only one out, but that is when Saltsman entered the game and retired the next two batters to put out the fire.
Shore's only threat the rest of the way was in the sixth when they worked Saltsman for back-to-back walks with one out, but a runner caught stealing and a strikeout quickly put an end to the threat.
While Masorti and Saltsman did the job for the Crickets, Travis Bradley, with the exception of several lapses, was also strong for Shore in the loss.
"He actually did an outstanding job," Welsh said about Bradley. "He was one of our best pitchers going in and overall, I thought he had a pretty good performance. He only gave up three runs (two earned) and I look at it this way, if we can't score more than three runs in a game, it is going to be tough for us to win."
So what advantage does the win give Beech Creek heading down the stretch of the tournament?
"That gives us a day rest and it also forces them (Shore) to use another pitcher if they come back through and I think they will," said Caprio about moving into the championship game. "I know they used two pretty good pitchers yesterday and I don't know what their pitch count was, but if they are back, that is who we will face."