Late-season surge leads Garton’s of Vineland to the Tri-County Baseball League title

by Marc Narducci | Aug 19, 2022
Late-season surge leads Garton’s of Vineland to the Tri-County Baseball League title
Garton’s of the Tri-County men’s baseball league didn’t enjoy the regular season it had hoped for but the Vineland-based franchise sure made up for it in the postseason.

After going 10-11-1 in the regular season, Garton’s continued its recent dominance by capturing its third Tri-County title in the past five seasons.
Garton’s won three, best of three playoff series to claim the title, winning six of seven postseason games in the process.

“Our pitching staff was great all year and we started finally hitting the ball, our bats got hot,” said veteran Garton’s manager Chris Williams, a 1985 graduate of Vineland. “Near the end of the season, our last 2-3 games into the playoffs, our bats got hot and we hit the ball the way we’re capable of doing.”

Garton’s started the postseason with 2 game to-none sweep of the South Jersey Grizziels. Then came a critical 2-0 sweep of defending Tri-County champion, the Roughriders of Haddonfield. In the first game, Garton’s earned a 5-1 win as Ryan Kulik earned the complete-game victory. Kulik didn’t allow an earned run and struck out six.

A graduate of Cherokee and Rowan University, Kulik spent seven years in pro baseball, reaching as high as Triple-A. He is the head baseball coach at Rutgers Camden.

Garton’s then earned a berth in the final with an 11-0 victory over the Roughriders, Gloucester High graduate and current Rutgers Camden righthander Ethan Carpenter earned the win in 6+ innings. He allowed two hits and struck out five.

In the finals, Kulik pitched a three-hitter and struck out nine during an opening 3-1 win over the Washington Township Senators.

Washington Township came back to win the second game, 11-2. Former Washington Township and current Fairleigh Dickinson pitcher Rich Racobaldo earned the win, striking out eight in six innings.

In the final game, it was a couple of firsts by two Garton’s players that paved the way for a 7-1 triumph.

Trailing 1-0, the first baseman Dylan Maria put Garton ahead for good with a two-run home run in the top of the second inning.

Maria, a 2019 Highland graduate, currently playing for Rowan, had been a big contributor all summer for Garton’s, but he had yet to hit a home run – until the biggest game of the season.

“That home run felt pretty good, I am usually more of a power hitter,” Maria said. “Getting one in this game was so big.”

This was his ninth game but only his third start. He finished the summer 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA and three saves. Maiers recorded 33 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.

“There was some pressure, but at the end of the day, I just told myself, ‘I’m just going to have fun and just lay it out there,” Maiers said.

A 2021 graduate of Kingsway, Maiers had a successful freshman season pitching for Rowan College of Gloucester County.

He appeared in 14 games, all in relief for a Roadrunners team that advanced to the Junior College World Series. In 18 innings, Maiers recorded 21 strikeouts and allowed six walks. He was 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA and three saves.

The 10-team Tri-County League consists of many colleges or former college players and some who played above that level. The Roughriders’ top pitcher was former Highland star Ryan Buchter, who spent seven seasons in the Major Leagues, pitching there as recently as last year with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The players compete hard and never was that more evident than seeing the effort of Mark Scarpa, who took the loss for Washington Township in the championship game.
The night before in the second game of the series, Scarpa, who is righthanded, hurt his left hand while running to first base on what was eventually a fielder’s choice.
He is among the best hitters on the team, but the hand was too sore to hit.
“At first I couldn’t bend my fingers and eventually it felt better but I wasn’t able to swing a bat,” said Scarpa, a 2014 graduate of Washington Township. “I still figured I could get on the mound.”
He said he had to be careful how he caught the ball, because of how it hurt his hand. Of course, the pain of losing in the title game was even worse.
“I wanted this bad, I have been playing in this league a long time,” Scarpa said. “I have played in some big games and this was probably the biggest game I ever played and I wanted this.”

Both teams did and Garton’s continued its recent dominance.

Author: Marc Narducci


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