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North Brunswick scored three runs in the top of the seventh and then held off a bases-loaded Southern Wayne rally to beat the Saints 8-6 and finish third in the Touchstone Energy Beach Diamond Invitational.
The Scorpions entered the seventh tied 5-5 with the Saints, but leadoff hitter Mason Oppert was hit by a pitch. Pinch-hitter A.J. Perkins reached on a fielder’s choice when his bunt attempt was bobbled. Dakota Irwin walked. A groundout by Trey Watson advanced the runners to third and second. Pinch-hitter David Zacek, a freshman, singled in a run to put the Scorpions ahead 6-5. Freshman Steve Linkous reached when the shortstop bobbled his grounder. Two runs scored on the play, putting North ahead 8-5.
The Saints loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh against reliever Oppert on a double and two walks. On a 2-0 count, senior Frank Walsh relieved Oppert and immediately picked off the runner at first. The Saints scored a run on an errant pickoff attempt by Irwin, the catcher, and a walk by Walsh loaded the bases. But North won the game when sophomore second baseman Tim Walsh caught a sinking liner near his shoes and threw to first to double off the runner for a game-ending double play.
Walsh’s play was one of three outstanding defensive efforts by the Scorpions.
In the bottom of the fourth, Oppert ran to within a couple feet of the center field wall to make a one-handed catch of a ball hit by Dylan Thompson. He had homered in his previous at-bat in the third, tying the score 4-4.
With two outs a runner on first in the sixth, right fielder D.J. Graham ran to his right and made a diving catch for the inning-ending out.
Oppert, an all-tournament selection, had a triple and a single in finishing 2-for-3. He also was hit by a pitch. Irwin was 1-for-2 with two walks. Watson was 1-for-2 with one RBI. Zacek was 1-for-1 with one RBI. Freshman Matt Lowry was 1-for-3. Linkous was 1-for-4 but reached twice on errors in which four runs scored. Graham was 1-for-3.
Tyler Smith started for North and gave up five runs and nine hits in two and two-thirds innings. He walked none and struck out one. Tommy Price pitched three innings, giving up no runs and four hits. He walked one and struck out three.