Yet, it was a total team effort. Ross hit seven or eight home runs during the regular season, Robinwood Coach Ken Laszlo said, but Jack Stergios didn’t hit any. That has changed in the TOC. Stergios hit a key homer in a quarterfinal win over Huntington Valley, and his solo shot Saturday in the sixth gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead and some breathing room.
“We have good team chemistry and a lot of talent on our team,” Stergios said. “I’m pretty excited [about the home runs]. I guess I just stepped it up a notch.”
And there was the pitching of starter Greg Fronek Jr., who struck out eight Red Sox in 4 1/3 innings. J.J. Muratore came in to close out the victory, helping the Phillies improve to 21-3.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” Laszlo said. “Ocean View always plays good baseball. We had to play well, which we did. We got some timely hits and great pitching … Greg pitched great. I was hoping he would go longer than 4.1 innings, but he did great. He only gave up one run, and Ocean View’s a great hitting team. He only gave up a few hits, and we made the plays for him.”
Ocean View actually took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Luke Johnston singled and eventually scored, but Ross’ blast to center with Muratore aboard gave Robinwood a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the frame.
The Red Sox’s best chance to score again came in the top of the fifth. With Connor Hurst and Cameron Kaneko on, cleanup hitter Chris Hoffman hit a bullet to right field.
But the Phillies’ Tyler Beyer came up with a big catch to keep Robinwood ahead.
“My heart stopped,” said Muratore, the Phillies pitcher at the time. “Then Tyler caught it.”
Connor Hurst also pitched well for Ocean View, striking out 10 in 4 2/3 innings. Jonathan Gorton had a single for the Red Sox.