CRESSON – When the ball bounced past Altoona-1 Cumming Motors catcher Colton Burd, there was no stopping Christian Petriello. He wheeled around third and scored all the way from second on the wild pitch without a throw.

“I only play baseball because of my speed. I love to get on base and I love to make pitchers confused when I’m on base. Seeing as we have a (deep) backstop here (at Mount Aloysius College’s Calandra-Smith Field), if we had a passed ball, I was going to try to get two bases on it,” Petriello said. “Every guy on this team is high-energy. We have a lot of fun.”

Petriello’s play typified his New Brunswick Matrix’s vitality on Wednesday afternoon. The Matrix listened to Future’s “Last Breath” from the soundtrack of the boxing movie “Creed” during warmups to get hyped up, then proceeded to punch their way into the elimination stage of the AAABA Tournament by knocking out the Altoona league champion, 9-1, in a showdown of previously 1-1 Pool D teams.

New Brunswick backed Darmany Rivas’ eight innings of shutout pitching with a six-run top of the third that keyed the victory, the Matrix’s second in a row after dropping a 5-4 heartbreaker to Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors on Monday night.

“These guys knew even before the night game that this was a chess match, it wasn’t a checkers game,” New Brunswick manager Glenn Fredricks said. “Win, lose or draw Monday night, we still had the rest of the tournament to play. To come out and do what we did (Tuesday) and today, correcting some mistakes we made offensively on Monday night, gets us a shot to play in the playoffs. You can’t ask for more than that.”

New Brunswick had as many hits in the third inning – six – as Altoona had all game, sending 11 batters to the plate. Justin Scotto and Gianni Marano opened the frame with singles before Steve Yelin’s double to left broke the scoreless tie and opened the floodgates.

The Matrix added two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. Cumming Motors scored its run on Burd’s one-out single in the bottom of the ninth.

Marano went 3-for-5, while Petriello was 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Frankie Sanchez and Andrew Schmid also collected two hits apiece for New Brunswick.

“I think we’re playing really well. Even in the first game that we lost, we played really well. We just had a couple of hiccups that made us lose the game,” Petriello said. “We’re all gelling as a team. We’re all hitting the ball. Defense is spectacular.”

Fittingly, the contest ended on New Brunswick’s third double play of the game. Yelin also threw out Jake Hillard trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt after a leadoff double in the first, setting the tone.

Cumming Motors was ousted from the tourney after beating Buffalo on opening day. Burd and Kevin Lechner had two hits apiece for Altoona, which was coming off a 10-run loss to Paul Carpenter on Tuesday night.

“I think there was a little bit of a hangover. You can’t take anything away from their pitcher; he threw a great game,” Altoona manager Chris Sanders said. “It’s tough, tough to swallow.”

Six of Rivas’ seven strikeouts came from the fourth inning on, when he only allowed two hits.

“The defense was amazing. I felt better as the game was going. My fastball had more behind it,” Rivas said. “I just did what I had to do.”

The same could be said for all of the Matrix.

“We knew we had to win (to advance),” Marano said. “We knew we needed to win the next two games, even if we won that game with Johns- town. We were ready.”

Trending Video

Recommended for you