He was a little shaky in the beginning, but as soon as Ramon Camacho settled in on the mound, the young right-hander anchored the Long Branch IAMA to the District 19 title with a 7-2 victory over Union Beach/Keyport.
In the top of the first inning, Camacho gave up three hits, a walk and advanced a runner to second on an error. The Breakers took advantage, scoring their first run on an error and an RBI single. Even though Long Branch came back to score a pair in the bottom half of the inning, it looked like a long, uphill battle was in store for Camacho.
However, after taking a hit to the leg in the second inning, Camacho stayed in the game to scatter six hits over six innings, denying the Breakers any further scoring.
Camacho totaled three strikeouts, one walk and gave up only one earned run to anchor Long Branch’s championship efforts.
The scoring began when the Breakers’ Peter Miller led off the first inning with a single. He traveled to second on a infield error then, after John Vitiello singled, was sent home on a two-base infielder’s dead-ball error. While his battery-mate was scoring, Vitiello raced his way to third, which allowed him to score on an RBI single by Pat DeNardo.
In between the Breakers’ base runners, Long Branch’s defense sat one batter on a pop-fly to the shortstop, a putout at second, and Camacho ended the inning with his first strikeout of the game.
The green-and-white quickly responded to their guests’ challenge, scoring two runs in the bottom half of the inning. After a quick grab of a hard hit line drive by Mike Raftery by Chris Flynn at first base, Ken Banach started the IAMA off with single.
On a 2-0 pitch to Camacho, Banach took off to steal second base, but instead ended up sprinting his way over the dish as the hurler smashed a double to the right-field fence.
Camacho traveled to third on a single by Eric Nilson, then Long Branch loaded the bases with a walk to Xavier Irazarry. A deep fly to left field hit by Chris Santos turned into a sacrifice when Camacho stepped on the dish to tie the game 2-2.
Both defenses turned up the heat over the next three innings, denying each other a chance to score. Long Branch had a pair of runners in scoring positions in the second inning. Mike Toffel singled, then legged his way to third on a single by Banach.
Despite runners on second and third, the Breakers were able to secure a flyout in center field, while Peter Miller battled back to fan two other batters.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that one of the teams exploded to take control of the game, with Long Branch tallying a quintet of runs. Banach started the six-hit Long Branch assault with a single to right field.
He was quickly joined by Camacho (single), then scored on a double by Nilson that just nipped the inside of the first-base foul line.
After a swinging strikeout, and a walk to Santos, loading the bases, the IAMA chalked up another pair of runs. Camacho and Nilson scored on a two RBI single by Joe Breiter.
Tony DeMarzo capped off Long Branch’s fifth-inning scoring attack when he scored Santos and Breiter on a two-run single.
Even though Long Branch was denied in the sixth, the damage was done as their defense held the Breakers in the sixth and seventh to hold on to the win.
Both teams used only one pitcher for the game. Camacho went the distance, facing 28 batters, giving up seven hits, walking two and striking out three.
On the other side of the field, Miller squared off against 31 Long Branch batters, gave up 11 hits, walked two and struck out six.
The IAMA boasts a 13-0 record, while Union Beach/Keyport finish 8-3-1. All three losses were to Long Branch.