After being upset by Mendham in the 2011 North 2 Group 3 tournament Cranford’s 2012 squad had waited a long while for an opportunity to reclaim the title that they attempted to defend last season.
“This year we’re playing as a team, we’re putting the ball in play, we’re pitching the ball well. We’re doing everything,” said junior starter Ryan Williamson. “That’s what wins you ball games.”
Williamson (1-2, RBI. 6 IP, 2 H, 7 K) led No. 1 Cranford (20-4) to a 7-0 victory over West Morris Central (18-11) in the North 2 Group III finals at Memorial Park in Cranford.
“I felt really good,” said Williamson. “I was just looking to get ahead on the guys and just focused on working inside.”
Williamson was brilliant all afternoon for the Cougars, effectively mixing his pitches for strikes to get ahead in the count often. The junior left-hander did not allow a West Morris hit until the top of the fourth inning and surrendered only one other in the game.
The lefty has his fair share of big game and experienced and it showed as he calmly navigated through the West Morris lineup. He rarely seemed phased and seemed to be one move ahead of the opposition, a credit to both Williamson and catcher Chris Folinuz.
Although the Cougars only managed four hits they were able to hit the ball hard and capitalized when they had the opportunity. Folinuz, the Cranford cleanup batter, came through big by blasting a pair of sacrifice flies deep into the outfield to drive in two runs.
Second baseman Eric Garguilo (1-2, 2 BB, 2 SB, 2 R) and shortstop Sean Feeney each registered a pair of runs in the 1st and 3rd innings for the Cougars.
“Just putting the ball in play is key, you have to challenge them to make plays,” said Williamson. “If you put the ball in play anything can happen.”
The Wolfpack struggled to figure out the lefty and they were only able to get a runner to second base on two separate occasions. Cleanup hitter Charles Savite picked up West Morris’ first hit in the fourth inning and second baseman Will Anderson got the only other in the fifth inning. Their quest for a sectional championship fell short after wins over Belleville, Iselin Kennedy and Mendham
The sectional crown for the Cougars is their second in the past three seasons. They now move on to face North 1 Group 3 winner West Milford on Tuesday at Kean University.
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