|VIDEO: Lakeland shuts down Ramsey, wins baseball section title|
Overlooked despite its top seed, the Lakeland baseball team proved itself worthy as it captured the sectional title. Pitcher Kyle Labouseur shut down Ramsey and its record-setting slugger as the Lancers earned a tough 2-0 victory in the North 1, Group II final.
Labouseuer fired a four-hit shutout, allowing just one walk and striking out four. He held Ramsey's Ashton Bardzell hitless on the day, no small feat against a slugger who came into the game with 18 home runs and an average better than .600.
Bardzell came close to a homer when his fly ball died just short of the right-field fence in the third. His 18 homers for the season leaves him tied with major-league superstar Mike Trout for New Jersey's single-season high school home run record.
In the sixth, Bardzell came to the plate with a runner on base and a chance to tie the game. But Labouceur induced a groundout, and got out of that inning unscathed.
Lakeland scored both of its runs in the third inning, bunching together four hits. Zach Querrazzi led off with a double and scored on Kyle Novotny's RBI single. Later in the inning, Jake Manke drove in Novotny with a base hit through the middle.
The Lancers totaled just six hits on the day, two by Steven Cook.
Other than the one tough inning, Rob Sartori was strong on the mound for Ramsey. He also came close to a homer in the seventh inning, with his blast hitting the top of the fence and bouncing back for a double. But Labouceur retired the next two hitters to close out the game and capture the trophy.
Ramsey, the second seed, finishes its season at 23-6.
Lakeland improves to 19-9. The Lancers started the season strong, but lost four out of five games just before the state tournament, leaving many to believe they might suffer a first-round knockout as they did the past two seasons. Instead, Lakeland captured its first sectional crown since 2010.
The Lancers will face Bernards on Tuesday in the Group II state semifinals at Ramapo College.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school baseball state sectional final, click play in the box at left.