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By Jonathan Lieze
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – The Camden County College Cougars lost a hard-fought baseball game to the Brookdale Community College Jersey Blues 11-9 on April 21.

The game was originally set to take place at Campbell’s Field in Camden, former home of the minor league Camden Riversharks. However, a storm late Thursday evening left the field in poor condition and the game had to be moved to Camden County’s Blackwood campus.

Before the game Camden County’s head coach, John Merkh, was confident. “We still have a lot of work to do to secure a playoff spot but I think it’s pretty easy to see that the guys have started to gel. Obviously Brookdale was the number one nationally ranked team for a good period of the season but I think we are catching them and our guys need to just continue to fight hard for each other and play the way we are capable of playing,” stated Merkh.

This confidence showed in his team early as the Cougars jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a leadoff solo home run by sophomore second basemen Ryan Glasthal in the bottom of the first inning. The Cougars added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth after a wild pitch allowed sophomore shortstop John Lindeborn to steal home despite a close play at the plate, making the score 2-0.

Brookdale turned things up in the top of the fifth inning by scoring five runs, including a two-run home run by sophomore center fielder Mike Santaromita, which put the Jersey Blues up 5-2. Camden County battled back, scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth. The offensive spark was again led by Lindeborn, who hit a double, driving in two runs, and was followed by runs batted in by sophomore left fielder Dan Healy and sophomore third basemen Elijah Birriel, increasing their lead to 8-5.

Brookdale answered in the seventh with a three-run home run by freshman outfielder Anthony Nocero, tying the game 8-8. Sophomore Nick Martinez followed that with a three-run home run later in the inning, driving up the score to 11-8. The Cougars again refused to quit and added another run in the bottom of the eighth; however, they saw their dreams dashed the following inning after a double play closed out the game with a final score of 11-9 in favor of Brookdale.

After the game Merkh assessed his team’s performance. “We knew going into the game that it was going to be a boxing match. They can hit and we had to hit right back. Our bullpen made some mistakes which hurt but at the end of the day they landed just one more punch than we did.”

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Brookdale pitcher Pat Knight stares down Camden County’s Elijah Birriel during Friday’s matchup. By Jonathan Lieze, CCC Journalism Program

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