So you want to pitch around Tommy Marcinczyk? Chris Petiya is OK with that.
In fact, Petiya completely understands the choice when weighed against the kind of damage the Middlesex junior can inflict with a bat. In just over two seasons, Marcinczyk has already accumulated 95 career hits and his reputation for skillfully ripping line drives to all fields makes the idea of walking him an attractive alternative, something he has already done 20 times this spring.
But, that appeal tends to last about the length of time it takes Petiya to stroll from the on-deck circle into the batter’s box, where the slugging senior designated hitter has carved out a quite reputation of his own.
“They’re usually going to pitch to Tommy the same way they are going to pitch to me,” said Petiya, who intently monitors every Marcinczyk at bat. “If he gets a first-pitch fastball, chances are, I’m getting a first-pitch fastball.”
And, that’s exactly what Petiya got following a Marcinczyk single to lead off the second. What the 6-1, 230-pounder did with it was launch a colossal home run that sailed well over the 360-foot sign in right-center field for his fifth home run of the season as unbeaten Middlesex, No. 9 in the MSG Varsity New Jersey Top 15, rolled to a 13-4 victory over Old Bridge on Friday at Geick Park in Old Bridge.
Middlesex (11-0) was both selective and productive in the top of the first. The first eight batters all reached base via four walks, three hits and a fielder’s choice as the Bluejays methodically established a 7-0 lead.
Petiya, who finished with four RBI, drew a bases-loaded walk and junior Kyle Dotey ensued with a two-run double.
“I got my pitch and turned on it down the line,” said Dotey, who went 2-for-5 with a run scored. “We have a good enough team that can get rolling and never stop.”
Dan Berardi drove in Petiya and Jeff Reinecke lined an RBI single to left to cap the first-inning outburst.
Marcinczyk, who surpassed former Middlesex standouts Mike O’Donnell, who now coaches the Bluejays, and Jordan Carter for career hits (both had 94) with a single in the seventh, went 2-for-3 with four runs scored.
“He is really patient at the plate,” Petiya said of Marcinczyk. “He doesn’t swing at bad pitches.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Petiya praised Marcinczyk considering the relationship they have, which dates back to their Little League days. For as far back as then, Petiya was slotted into batting orders behind Marcinczyk to offer him protection, something that transcends the diamond.
“I always watch out for him,” Petiya said. “I keep him under my wing.”
Kris Fellin went the distance for Middlesex (11-0), scattering 11 hits while fanning two and not issuing a walk in a gutsy 99-pitch outing that went heavy on his curveball.
“I don’t throw hard,” said Fellin, who induced 10 groundball outs. “I throw to contact because I’m confident in the defense behind me. I just gotta throw strikes, that’s my job, and let the rest lie in their hands.”
Middlesex tacked on two more runs in the fifth and a pair in the seventh, all four of which were unearned. Tyler Heisch, a junior shortstop, finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Brandon Abdul was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI for Old Bridge (5-6) while teammate Dean Roventini went 2-for-3. Abdul doubled in a run and scored on a single from Chris Chiodo in the fourth.
No. 3 Jackson 5, Freehold Twp. 3: Joe Ogren belted a solo homer as part of a 2-for-3 performance for Jackson (8-1). Ed Guippone finished 3-for-3 with an RBI. Nick Petrizzo, Brian Kenny and Mike Folk all had two hits for Jackson and Jake Harlinski allowed five hits over five innings to pick up the win.
No. 6 Wall 9, Lakewood 1: Matt Osgoodby tossed a four-hitter with nine strikeouts and two walks for Wall (9-1). Scott Duncan went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI.
No. 10 Steinert 5, Princeton 4: Brock Podgurski went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI for Steinert (11-0), which rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to erase a 3-1 deficit.
No. 13 North Bergen 6, Bayonne 5: PJ Cardone and Willie Cruz led off the top of the ninth with singles and Jose Moreno lifted a sacrifice fly that snapped a 5-5 tie for the Bruins (10-1), who extended their winning streak to 10. Cruz and Brandon Diaz homered for North Bergen. Justin Guthrie had a double and an RBI for Bayonne (9-3).
Gregg Lerner covers baseball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner