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Mainland baseball rallies for important win over Egg Harbor Township

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher LINWOOD – When you are facing a good pitcher, you have to be patient and then cash in when presented with scoring opportunities. Through the first four innings on Monday, Mainland Regional wasn’t able to cash in against Egg Harbor Township southpaw Misael Castillo. Castillo was sharp, and carried a shutout into the bottom of the fifth. Mainland finally was able to capitalize on scoring opportunities, rallying for six runs in that frame to wipe out a 3-0 deficit before hanging on in the seventh for a 6-3 win that gives the Mustangs some serious power points toward a possible state playoff berth. Mainland improved to 6-8 and got a strong six innings from Matt Tepedino, who ran into some early trouble but kept the damage to a minimum, allowing his offense the chance to break through late in the game. Jack Loefflad came on in the seventh for the save, getting Austin Fottrell to fly out to the deepest part of the park with two men on to secure the win. Junior relief pitcher Jack Loefflad delivers to the plate during the seventh inning of Mainland's 6-3 win over Egg Harbor Township on Monday in Linwood. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Junior relief pitcher Jack Loefflad delivers to the plate during the seventh inning of Mainland’s 6-3 win over Egg Harbor Township on Monday in Linwood. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) “Usually in the beginning of the games I start out a little slow,” Tepedino said. “But they are a good hitting team. They’ve been hitting the ball really well. I was expecting them to hit well.” The six-run outburst started innocently enough, as a tough chance on the infield led to an overthrow and a man on second. Still, EHT (11-7) held a 3-0 lead at that point. But Mainland just kept putting runners on base. Kyle Gerace, playing in his first game after sitting out the first 30 days of the season because of the transfer rule, laced an RBI single to make it 3-1. Drew Riska was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing in another run. Nick Droboniku drew a walk to force in the tying run before another hit batsman, an error and a double play groundout plated three more. The Mustangs scored six runs with the aid of just three hits. Castillo helped his own cause in the top of the second, ripping an RBI double to give EHT an early 1-0 lead. In the fourth, an RBI groundout by Bryan Brubaker and a run-scoring single by Justin Epifanio pushed the lead to 3-0. That was all the Eagles could muster against Tepedino, however, as the senior right-hander worked out of a couple of jams to pick up the victory. “It’s big for our team because we lost a game last week and we didn’t want to lose another one because that might screw up our playoff spot,” Tepedino said. “We wanted to win this game and we needed to win this game. We’re getting there. We’re working hard and I think we’ll be over .500 by the time the season ends.” “It was real nice to have a comeback win today,” said Mainland coach Billy Kern. “Early on we had some opportunities and left a ton of baserunners out there. But it was nice to see us battle and make (EHT) earn all 21 outs, so it was a good effort.” Egg Harbor Township coach Bryan Carmichael said he was frustrated by the lack of energy his team had, as well as the trouble the Eagles had with runners in scoring position. The Eagles, who last week earned a berth in the prestigious Diamond Classic, are in the midst of a brutal two-week schedule, but Carmichael Mainland's Kyle Gerace advances to third base as Egg Harbor Township's Nick Pera prepares to apply the tag. Mainland’s Kyle Gerace advances to third base as Egg Harbor Township’s Nick Pera prepares to apply the tag. said he wasn’t going to use that as an excuse. “The schedule we play is pretty demanding. We played Friday, two on Saturday. But with the schedule we have, we have to be ready to play every day and I don’t think we were ready to play,” Carmichael said. “We’re banged up, injury-wise, but we can’t use that as an excuse. When guys get an opportunity they have to step up and get the job done. We left runs out there on the base paths and we can’t do that. And we have to avoid the big inning. We gave up five runs in one inning Saturday (against West Deptford) and six runs in an inning today.” The Eagles also were playing with heavy hearts, as the father of senior Joe Sacco was tragically killed in an accident on Sunday evening. “I think the kids were upset and taken aback by it. The kids said they were going to play today for Joe’s father,” Carmichael said. Kern said he can empathize with what the Eagles were dealing with on Monday afternoon, understandably distracted as one of their teammates was going through a difficult time in his personal life. “Unfortunately, with what has gone on (at Mainland) the last couple of years, and we just had a tragedy as one our JV players’ mom passed away last week, I think the kids at this high school have grown up pretty quick,” Kern said. “They kind of lean on each other when things like that happen. I know (the EHT players) were hurting for the young man. It’s just unfortunate. No high school kid should have to go through that.” Mainland showed a lot of class before the game, offering a moment of silence by players and fans out of respect for an opposing player and team that was hurting emotionally. “That’s the least we could do. He’s going to be having a tough time, but hopefully the baseball team is somewhere he can go (for support),” Kern said. Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays

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