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Steady starting pitcher Droboniku, unlikely hero Juliano help Mainland advance in Diamond Classic

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher MAPLE SHADE — About the only thing that went wrong for Mainland Regional senior Nick Droboniku during the first round of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic was the Maple Shade High School public address guy mispronouncing his name. Droboniku twirled a complete game two-hitter, started the game-winning rally with a double down the left-field line, and got some spectacular defensive help from an unlikely hero as the Mustangs dug out of an early 2-0 hole to beat Riverside 9-2 on Saturday morning. The Mustangs advance to next weekend, where they will face Kingsway, a 7-2 winner over Ocean City. Riverside (12-7) had an early 1-0 lead and threatened to blow the game wide open when it loaded the bases with no outs, but left fielder Mike Juliano — who has had just a handful of starts this year — turned what could have been a bases-clearing double into a sacrifice fly when he chased down a long fly ball off the bat of John McFadden and crashed headlong into the outfield fence. He was bruised, bloodied and shaken — and had to leave the game — but the catch limited the damage to just one run. Dean Deveney went 2-for-4 with four runs batted in to lead the Mustangs' offense against the Rams. Dean Deveney went 2-for-4 with four runs batted in to lead the Mustangs’ offense against the Rams. Loefflad said a solid performance from Droboniku in a big game came as no surprise to him. “Nick has always been the guy to come in during big games and have an awesome game, and he did it again today. First game of the Diamond Classic, which we haven’t been in for seven years, so for him to come out here and give up two runs in the first two innings then just shut them down, he did an awesome job,” Loefflad said. “He’s a great pitcher and I always have confidence in him.” Loefflad said getting a win in the Diamond Classic — a tournament Mainland hadn’t earned an invitation to since 2008 — was a big thrill for he and his teammates. “This is something that we weren’t really expecting. We’re not really a team that’s always in the Diamond Classic, so it’s definitely something we can add to our resume,” Loefflad said. “It’s an awesome feeling to even be here playing in this.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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