Roughriders win TriCounty baseball title

by Marc Narducci | Aug 14, 2023
Roughriders win TriCounty baseball title
For the Roughriders of Haddonfield good isn’t good enough. After a solid regular season, the team turned their game up a major notch in the playoffs, winning them the TriCounty men’s baseball league championship. 

This 12-team league features incoming, current or former college players and each playoff series is a best-of-three.

The Roughriders were 12-7 in the regular season and the No. 6 seed in the playoffs.

In the opening round, the Roughriders beat Camden 2-games-to-1.

The Roughriders went on to win the first two games in each series, and thus win their series, against Pine Barrens, defending league champion Garton’s of Vineland and Cherry Hill/Pitman.

The championship series, which was played at Pitman’s Alcyon Park, saw some impressive pitching performances. 

In the opener, the Roughriders earned a 2-0 win in nine innings over Cherry Hill/Pitman.

A two-run single by catcher Evan Carbone, a 2022 graduate of Highland and rising sophomore at Rutgers Camden, proved to be the winning hit. and Mason Dobbs, a recent Haddon Heights graduate, earned the win in relief.

The championship game was another classic with the Roughriders winning 3-2.

Right-hander Chris Brown, a Haddonfield High and University of the Sciences alum, was the winning pitcher, going the first four innings, allowing one run and striking out four. Zach Welsher, a right-hander formerly from Audubon and Rutgers Camden, earned the save. He allowed one run and struck out six in three innings.

Carbone scored the game’s first run on an RBI single by Aaron Graeber in the third inning. Graeber is a West Deptford graduate who starred for national Division III junior college champion RCGC and is now headed to the University of Delaware. 

In the bottom of the fourth inning with the score tied 1-1, Carbone then hit a two-run single to center field. 

“I was just trying to make contact anywhere I could,” said Carbone. “Lately they have been just falling for me so that’s all I was trying to do.”

Cherry Hill/Pitman cut the lead to 3-2 on a solo home run in the sixth by center-fielder Billy Rice, a former standout at Washington Township High and the University of Maryland. Rice also played a few seasons in the Phillies minor league organization. 

Nobody showed more heart than Cherry Hill/Pitman player-coach Chris Rollins.

A former standout at Winslow Township and then Gloucester County College, Rollins pitched a strong game. The two-run single he allowed to Carbone fell just in front of a charging Rice in center field.

“I have been in this league for almost 18 years and this is one of my favorite years,” said Rollins, upcoming pitching coach at Rowan University. “It’s tough to lose but the guys showed up and it was fun to be here and be part of it.”

Rollins is 36, which in this league makes him a greybeard, but the right-hander loves playing the game and continues to perform at a high level. That epitomizes the spirit in the TriCounty League. While many play to stay sharp for their upcoming fall college seasons, Rollins and others such as 28-year-old Welsher, just love competing and both are still adept at it. 

Yet above all, this was the year for the Roughriders, who won their fourth ever TriCounty championship and second in three seasons. Going 8-1 in the postseason, the team certainly saved their best for last.

 

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Author: Marc Narducci

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