--> Versage, pitching pace MTHS to Warrior Classic title | Cape May County Sports

Versage, pitching pace MTHS to Warrior Classic title

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The MTHS baseball team celebrates winning its third straight Warrior Classic title WILDWOOD – Jimmy Versage had the best view of collective performance by the pitchers on the Middle Township High School baseball team at the Warrior Classic tournament.

“They pitched real well,” the junior catcher said. “They didn’t let many runners get on, they got out of any jams we got in and they didn’t let up many runs.”

Panther pitchers allowed only six runs over three games at the tournament, Middle clinching the title behind Sunday afternoon’s 5-2 victory over host Wildwood.

Jeff Keyes pitched the last of three complete games by Panther pitchers in the title game, permitting one earned run. He struck out just three, but didn’t walk a batter.

The effort by Keyes followed similar performances by Erik Arenberg and Steve Hand, who each allowed two runs in earlier tournament wins over Cape May Tech and Wildwood.

All told, Middle pitchers walked two batters over 21 innings in the tournament.

“Our pitchers were very good,” Middle coach Chuck Dougherty said. “We throw strikes and we pitch to contact. If we field the ball, we have a good chance to win and we fielded the ball well this whole tournament.”

Tournament MVP Jimmy Versage Versage, named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, was Middle’s offensive catalyst. He went 5 for 9 with two triples, five RBI and five runs scored over his team’s three games.

“I’m really happy because I was struggling a little before we got to this tournament, but when we came here I started hitting the ball,” Versage said.

In the title game, Middle (8-5) scored all the runs it needed in the second inning, behind an RBI double by J.T, Hickman, an RBI infield hit by Keyes and a sacrifice fly by Justin Lent to take a 3-0 lead.

The Panthers upped their advantage to 5-0 in the fourth on an RBI double by Keyes and a run-scoring passed ball.

Chris Mormile’s RBI double and Devon Bradshaw’s RBI ground out got Wildwood back in the game in the sixth. The got a runner to first with one out in the seventh, but Middle turned a nifty 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

“This tournament means a lot to the kids,” Dougherty said. “It’s all our local players. They all know each other and some of them play with one another on other teams.

“We had to play well to win this. The teams we played played pretty well against us. The county teams are really coming together. You have to come out and play your best game to beat these teams.”
Wildwood posted easy wins over Lower Cape May and Wildwood Catholic in earlier tournament games but the young Warrior team wasn’t strong enough for Middle.

“We still have a little bit to go,” Wildwood coach Rich Hans said. “Middle played well and they hit the ball. We fielded the ball pretty well and we played a decent game but Middle was a better team than we were.”

Brendan Bean and James Grauel each had two hits for the Warriors (13-9-1).

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