Written by Bill LeConeyThursday, April 10, 2014 11:14 pm
ATLANTIC CITY – Early this season, the Egg Harbor Township Eagles have subsisted mainly with an imbalanced diet of great pitching and little hitting - effective at times but not very nutritious over the long haul.
They finally chose from the full menu Thursday, pounding out an early 7-0 lead and holding on to beat Atlantic City, 10-6, in a Cape-Atlantic League American Division game at the windy Sandcastle.
"It's getting better, it's an improvement," said head coach Bryan Carmichael after his team rattled the Sandcastle with nine hits. "We took a lot of batting practice yesterday, and it showed.”
Monny Strickland went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, blasting a double in the gap. Pitcher Austin Fottrell struck out six in a complete game victory and helped his own cause with two hits. Matt Dicerbo had a double and two RBIs for A.C.
The Eagles (4-1) were shut out by Absegami’s Matt Ardente over eight innings in their previous game, wasting a fine outing by junior sensation Misael Castillo. They needed a no-hitter by Castillo in their opener to beat Holy Spirit.
“We're a good hitting team,” Strickland said. “We sprayed the ball all over the place today. A.C.'s a good team, but we just hit the ball and got the win.”
Every time Atlantic City (1-4) inched back into the game, EHT used clutch hitting to widen the lead.
The Vikings closed to within 7-4 with a four-run fourth inning, but EHT’s Mark Rodriguez drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Atlantic City got to within 8-6 in the sixth, but Fottrell closed the door with a pair of strikeouts, and EHT tacked on two more in the seventh to seal the victory.
“I knew our offense could come back after I gave up a couple runs,” Fottrell said. “They hit me around a little bit but I knew we had it in the bag. This was probably our best game hitting-wise.”
Fottrell, a big senior righthander, said he is enjoying the game of personal “one-upmanship” with lefty teammate Castillo. As a whole, the Eagles believe they are one of the better teams in South Jersey.
“I feel like we were the underdogs, and I think we can prove something this year,” Fottrell said. “We’re trying to get a home playoff game - that's what I want from my senior year.”
Carmichael just hopes the bats can stay hot. The Eagles have a tough road ahead – playing in the Heinkel Tournament this weekend at Bishop Eustace, a tournament that includes St. Augustine Prep and southeastern Pa. power Malvern Prep - before heading back into the choppy CAL waters next week.
“I want to see our guys step up to the challenge,” Carmichael said.