The Ocean City High School baseball team is the Cape-Atlantic League, American Conference champion.
The Raiders used a three-run home run by Josh Arnold in the bottom of the sixth inning to overtake St. Augustine Prep, 6-5, in what amounted to a conference championship game. The two teams entered the game with identical conference records and no other conference games left.
Ocean City had declared it Ron Moretti Day, a tribute to the longtime assistant and first base coach. Moretti, who was honored with his family before the game, has been a volunteer coach in the OCHS baseball program for 25 years.
Arnold drilled a line drive over the fence in left center to bring the Raiders from behind. St. Augustine had scored three runs in the top of the fifth, one unearned, to take a 5-3 lead.
"I hit a fastball," said Arnold, who had pitched against St. Augustine on the road and shut them out on one hit. "I was looking for the fastball. They really didn't give me a good pitch to hit all day but that one was good. It was belt high and I put a good swing on it. That is all I was trying to do.
"When I hit it I thought it had a chance to go and it felt great when it cleared the fence. There is no better feeling than hitting a go-ahead home run."
There was still work to do.
Colton Ulmer, who set St. Augustine down in order in the sixth in relief of starter Nick Artymowicz, got the first two outs of the seventh but walked a batter to put runners on first and second. Coach Craig Mensinger then brought on Matt Fumo, who struck out the final batter to record the save. Ulmer was the winning pitcher.
"Nick threw a great game without much help from our defense," Arnold said. "Colton did a shut down job and Matt took care of the last batter. They gave us what we needed."
The Raiders scored in the first when Dom Fiorentino stole home as part of a double steal. Sean Mooney was on first, after delivering his 100th career hit. He broke for second and, when St. Augustine went after him, he stopped and Fiorentino broke for the plate. The throw home was wide and Ocean City had the lead.
"Dom executed that play perfectly," said Mensinger. "We work on it frequently and you can't do it much better than that. I was afraid Sean had broken from first too quickly but it worked great."
The lead stretched to 3-0 in the second on an RBI double by Fiorentino and an RBI single by Danny Gray.
"We got contributions from a lot of guys today," said Mensinger, "but Dom (Fiorentino) frequently is in the middle of things. His double scored a run, he stole home - we're just glad he's getting the recognition he deserves this season."
The championship is Ocean City's second in the CAL-American (2000) and the 12th overall Cape-Atlantic League championship in school history.
The Raiders will try to make it back-to-back championships on Friday.
Ocean City (18-5) will host Highland (17-4-1) on Friday (4pm) in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 3 championship game at 5th & Bay. Mooney will be seeking his ninth win of the season. He not only is 8-0 but has a 0.00 earned run average with 86 strikeouts in 44 innings. He is 24-3 over his four-year career.
"The crowds have been crazy," said Arnold. "The people have come out for these games. I'm not used to playing in front of that many people but I'm starting to get used to it."