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Pompton Lakes Dominates for Memorable First Group 1 State Title

State Final Saturday. The long journey of the regular and post-season comes down to one final day. One final game for the eight remaining teams and for four of them, NJ high school baseball immortality. The baseball gods smiled down on Veterans Park, gifting us with a perfect day for baseball in Hamilton, New Jersey. 

Pompton Lakes and Point Pleasant Beach opened things up with an early 10 am start time. The morning game did not affect Cardinals’ starter Tyler Benway, who left it all out on the field in his last-ever high school game. Benway pounded the strike zone and stayed poised on the mound throughout the game, mowing down 11 Garnet Gulls and walking just one over his five innings of work. 

Point Pleasant Beach had trouble finding the plate against the Cardinals' lineup, and when they did find the zone, they were getting hit. The Gulls used four different arms during the course of the game but the Pompton Lakes offense had each one figured out. The Group 1 South champs staff ended the game, allowing 14 hits, seven walks, and only two strikeouts on the day. 

Pompton Lakes’ lineup lived up to the hype and did not miss a beat on NJSIAA’s biggest stage. The Cardinals put together 14 hits on the day en route to their 14-4 mercy-rule win. Nick Laccitello led the way, going 3-for-5 and driving in four of the team’s 14 runs. Vinnie Stigliano drove in a pair with a perfect 3-for-3 day with three singles, a walk, and a stolen base. 

Laccitello drove in the game-winning runs with a bases-clearing three-run double in the bottom of the 5th to put the mercy rule into effect. The walk-off double will be Laccitello’s last memory of high school ball as he and six other seniors ride off into the sunset. 

On April 1st, Pompton Lakes sprinted out on the field for Opening Day just like every other Group 1 school. 

 Two months later, on June 8th, they walked off the field as State Champions.

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