The Roadrunners brought home the Region XIX championship following a three-year absence -- and boy did it feel good to head Coach Rob Valli, his staff, and especially a group of sophomores determined to return the coveted crown back to RCGC!
The No. 3 seed Runners finished off a stunning performance this past weekend by rolling to the 2019 crown with a 7-1 triumph over No. 4 Brookdale in the championship game at Cumberland County College. The Jersey Blues advanced to the title game by rallying past top-seed Cumberland 7-4 earlier in the day. They would have needed to beat the Roadrunners twice to lay claim to the title -- but Valli's team would have none of it.
Behind tournament MVP Alex Gattinelli, who broke open a close contest with a key two-run double in the eighth inning, and solid outings from starting pitcher Jack Billings and reliever Nick Evangelista, the Roadrunners will be making a return trip to the NJCAA Division World Series in Greeneville, Tennessee next weekend.
And that suits the Runners, now 39-9, just fine as they look to bring home the program's 8th national championship in school history. The Regional crown was the 23rd in the proud history of RCGC baseball.
Valli's team roared through the regional tournament, which featured four NJCAA Nationally Ranked Top 10 teams, with little trouble. RCGC disposed of No. 2 seed Northampton, 11-1, Friday followed by a convincing 21-1 drubbing of top seed Cumberland later that day. Against the Jersey Blues, Billings and Evagelista held Brookdale at bay as the Runners held on to a 3-0 lead heading into the eighth. Gattinelli and company then took over as the team erupted for a four-spot and a 7-0 lead before closing out the final at 7-1.
"We knew it was a matter of time before our hitting got into high gear," said Gattinelli. "No way we were going to let this one get away." (Post-Game Interview with Alex below)
Ditto, said Billings, who proved to be torrid against Region XIX opponents both at the plate and on the mound during the three-game sweep to the title.
"We wanted this title bad -- we felt we were the best team, and we proved it," said Billings, a freshman who is one of the region's top prospects.
Head coach Rob Valli was not surprised his offense erupted during the regional tournament -- and he expected the pitching to remain steady as usual. The Roadrunners outscored three major opponents by an impressive 39-3 count to cruise to the regional crown.
"The talent has always been there at the plate -- we picked the right time to showcase it," said Valli. "The pitching was solid again. We are very deep and we have so many people to go to on the mound.
"This is a well-deserved championship for this group of sophomores and the freshmen alike. Now they need to get ready to extend their season during the World Series in Greeneville."
Watch for additional coverage in the coming week @RCGCAthletics prior to the D-III World Series, including an interview with long-time assistant coach Greg Chew.
Archived game video...
Roadrunners Advance to Championship Game:
The Region XIX Final Four kicked off on Friday at Cumberland County College and Rowan College at Gloucester County, featuring 4 of the top 10 teams in the country.
In the opening games, #1 seed Cumberland downed #4 Brookdale, 6-0, while 3rd seeded RCGC topped 2nd seeded Northampton 11-1.
In the second round of games, #3 RCGC dispatched #1 Cumberland, 21-1, while #4 Brookdale eliminated #2 Northampton, 11-0.
Recap on Roadrunners win over Cumberland CC is found below. Check for photos from both wins over Cumberland and Northampton. Watch archived video below:
Roadrunners Surprise No. 1 Seed Cumberland CC
Second baseman Jack Billings and teammates Jose Correa and Ryan Murphy slammed home runs to lead the red-hot Roadrunners to a 21-1 thrashing of No. 1 seed Cumberland in the second round of the Region XIX Final Four tournament Friday afternoon.
The win, the second in a row in the tourney for RCGC, lifted the Runners into the Region XIX championship round on Saturday starting at 3 pm. Coach Rob Valli's team will meet the winner of the Cumberland vs. Brookdale loser's bracket contest.
Billings continued to display power at the plate, collecting five RBIs and two hits. Murphy knocked in four runs while first baseman Anthony Angelino was a perfect three-for-three with three RBIs.
Winning pitcher Nick Yoder shut down the high-powered Dukes' offense on three hits while striking out six.
Roadrunners Defeat Northampton CC:
Left-handed slugger Jack Billings ignited the Roadrunner offense with a solo home run in the second inning, and his teammates never looked back as RCGC rolled to an 11-1 triumph in seven innings over Northampton in the opening round of the Region XIX Final Four Friday morning.
Billings, who finished with two hits and two RBIs, tied the game at 1-1 in the second with his solo blast to light a fire in the RCGC hitting attack. The No. 3 seed Runners also received two hits and two RBIs each from Anthony Angelino, Dauri Genao, Jake Catalano.
RCGC erupted for four runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 5-1 lead before adding one in the fifth, and four more in the seventh to polish off the No. 2 seed Spartans.
Winning pitcher Mike Biasiello, a sophomore out of Kingsway Regional, was masterful. allowing three hits and striking out nine.
The No. 3 seed Runners will meet No. 1 seed Cumberland, a winner over Brookdale CC, in a 3 pm start time at Cumberland CC on Friday afternoon.
Watch archived video below:
Roadrunners' baseball coach Rob Valli hopes this time around will yield a different result. But he knows it will not be easy when his team takes the field against Northampton CC Friday morning in an 11 am start at RCGC to kick off the double elimination Region XIX Final Four Tournament.
This matchup will clearly be a knock-down battle between two of the best teams in the nation.
Roadrunner Baseball (36-9 overall) will look to earn a berth in the upcoming NJCAA Division III World Series this weekend. The Spartans are the higher seed and will be the home team in this contest.
RCGC, which lost a doubleheader to Northampton earlier this month, will also engage in a rematch of two national championship qualifiers in 2018.
Starting for the Runners will be sophomore righty Mike Biasiello, a former Kingsway standout. He will be supported in relief, if need be, by freshman Jack Billings, who has pitched well in recent games.
"Biasiello gives us a the best matchup against Northampton and Billings is solid right behind him," said veteran coach Rob Valli. "Our pitching has been great all year and we're confident in these guys."
The remaining members of the Runners' staff, led by sophomores Nick Yoder and Nick Evangelista along with freshman Anthony Capasso, will also be ready for tournament action as the Runners look to advance.
The Spartans will likely counter with pitching ace Noah Webster, one of the nation's top hurlers. He shut out the Runners in their first meeting, but RCGC will nonetheless counter with a tough lineup. The RCGC lineup includes sluggers Alex Gattinelli and Anthony Angelino along with standouts Lorenzo Morello, Jack Billings, Stephen Brookwell, Ryan Murphy, Jose Correa and Jake Catalano.
"We've overcome a lot this season and we still are fighting some battles," said Valli. "We'll be up against a great pitcher, so we hope to knock him out, but we also need to play some better defense as a team."
The Region XIX field is probably the toughest in the nation as all four teams -- Cumberland, RCGC, Northampton and Brookdale -- are ranked in the Division III Top 10 nationally by the NJCAA.
The winner of RCGC vs. Northampton will meet the winner of No. 1 seed Cumberland, which is also the top-ranked team in the nation, vs. No. 4 seed Brookdale. The losers will also continue play in the double-elimination tournament with a tougher road to winning the Region XIX title. See tournament preview below for additional information.
Roadrunner Baseball will look to earn a berth in the upcoming NJCAA Division III World Series this weekend. The Roadrunners (36-9) will take on Northampton CC at 11:00am on Friday in the first game of the double-elimination tournament. Many of the games will be streamed live via NJCAATV including the RCGC/Northampton CC game - see link below.
Tournament Schedule Snapshot
Friday May 17th - Four Games played at two sites
(Site 1 - Cumberland County College; Site 2- Rowan College at Gloucester County)
11:00AM - Game 1: Winner of (4)Brookdale at (1)Cumberland County College (Played at Cumberland)
11:00AM - Game 2: (3)RCGC at (2)Northampton (Played at RCGC- Northampton will be home team as the higher seed) Watch Live!
3:00PM - Game 3: Loser of Game 1 at Loser of Game 2 (Elimination Game)
3:00PM - Game 4: Winner of Game 1 at Winner of Game 2 (Winner's Bracket)
**The Sites for Games 3 and 4 will be determined by the results from Games 1 and 2. As the highest seed, Cumberland will remain on its home field regardless of result. The 3:00PM start time for Games 3 and 4 are estimated times to account for travel time between sites.
Saturday May 18th - Two Games played at Cumberland County College
12:00PM - Game 5: Winner of Game 3 v. Loser of Game 4 (Elimination Game)
3:00PM - Winner of Game 5 v. Winner of Game 4 (Championship Game)
Sunday May 19th - Final Game and If Necessary Championship Game at Cumberland County College
12:00PM - Game 7 (If Winner of Game 5 defeats the Winner of Game 4)