By TOM WILLIAMS
It was a difficult Friday for Ocean City High School’s spring sports teams. The Raiders lost three times – two with great importance – to their rivals from Mainland.
The boys lacrosse team (14-4) lost an exciting game in Linwood, 7-6, in a battle between teams that were undefeated in the Cape-Atlantic League. The victory won the championship for the Mustangs, ending Ocean City’s three-year hold on the title. And it ended the Raiders’ 28-game win streak over four seasons against CAL opponents.
Later, under the lights at 5th & Bay, Mainland scored in the top of the seventh and held off the Raiders in the bottom of the inning for a 4-3 win in baseball. It was Ocean City’s first loss in the CAL National Conference but it did not decide the conference championship.
Also, the Mainland softball team defeated Ocean City, 11-1, in the Strike Out Cancer Game at Birch Grove Park in Northfield shortened to six innings by the mercy rule. Alex Vitola had two hits for OCHS.
Despite the three losses to Mainland, there was some good news for Ocean City on Friday.
The OCHS golfers (14-2) edged St. Augustine Prep, 152-154, at Buena Vista Country Club. According to available records, it was the first time Ocean City had ever defeated The Prep on the golf course. Senior Will McGonigle shot a 36, seniors Issac Royster and Jack Sullivan both carded 38 and senior Craig Nordberg got a 40. OCHS won the match with the depth of its lineup. St. Augustine sophomore Drue Nicholas, the CAL’s best golfer, came home with a 34 and senior Tyler Booth shot 36.
Ocean City also swept the Cape May County track championships in meets at Carey Stadium. It was the 39th straight year that the OCHS girls had won the meet in the 39 years it has been held. The Raiders won for the 11th straight time in the boys meet. Brian Cunniff has coverage of the county track meets, including photos and video, here – http://coastsportstoday.com/2018/05/7441/.
Boys lacrosse might be the most intense rivalry of all between Ocean City and Mainland. Last year the Raiders won, 11-10. In 2016, when the teams played twice, OCHS won both, the second by an identical 11-10 score. The Raiders also won twice in 2015, the second by a 9-8 score in overtime. Ocean City also won, 9-8, in 2014 after losing the first meeting, 11-9.
Friday’s game was more of the same, though both teams showed signs of taking control. Mainland used goals by Antonio Yeoman and Colin Cooke to take a 2-0 lead.
Then Bill Kroeger took over.
The OCHS junior, who leads the CAL in faceoff percentage, controlled the subsequent faceoff and streaked down the field, avoiding defenders like he was on the field alone, and drilled a shot into the nets. Then, early in the second period, Kroeger assisted Jake Schneider on a goal that tied the score. The Raiders went on to score three more times in the second quarter – Marty Cattie scored two of them, one with an assist from Joe Lloyd, and assisted Christian Kuhn on the other. Ocean City had scored five unanswered goals to take a three-goal halftime lead.
But the Mustangs took over in the second half. And Vince Giunta was right in the middle of it all. Giunta assisted Pat Taylor on a goal and then scored with an assist from Taylor to cut the OCHS lead to 5-4 after three periods. In the fourth quarter, Keegan Ford scored with a Taylor assist to tie the score and Giunta scored with an assist from Ford to give Mainland a 6-5 lead.
Ocean City responded when Schneider scored less than 30 seconds later after another Kroeger faceoff win and OCHS tied the score. Giunta then fed Ford for a goal with 4:51 left to give Mainland a 7-6 lead. The Raiders had opportunities down the stretch but couldn’t get the ball past Hunter Faunce, who made 15 saves. Ocean City goalie Charlie Dahl also had a strong day, stopping nine shots.
On the baseball diamond, Devin Sharkey led off the seventh inning of a tie game with a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jim Kryjer. Freshman Chase Petty came on to pitch in the bottom of the seventh for the Mustangs and, after a single by Jaden Millstein and a four-pitch walk to Dan Nunan, ended the game with a ground ball double play.
Millstein, who tied the game in the fifth with an RBI double over the center fielder’s head, had two hits for OCHS. The Raiders’ other runs came on an RBI single by Brandon Lashley in the second and in the fourth when Nunan singled and scored on an error. Lashley made two great defensive plays at short that saved at least two runs.
Nunan started and pitched into the sixth, striking out eight, walking one and allowing two earned runs. Frank Piernikowski finished and was tagged with the loss despite not allowing an earned run. Nick Atohi started and pitched six for Mainland. He got the win.
Ocean City still is in first place in the CAL National and can win the championship outright with wins next week against Cedar Creek and Oakcrest. The Raiders game today against Bishop Eustace in the Diamond Classic was postponed until Tuesday.
Follow the day-to-day results of the OCHS spring teams at http://www.oceancitysports.com/OCDiary.html.
CAL-National Baseball Standings
1-Ocean City 9-1
5-Cedar Creek 3-6
6-Middle Township 1-7
7-Lower Cape May 1-9