|VIDEO: Millburn blanks Randolph in baseball state semifinal|
Behind excellent pitching and a couple of timely hits, Millburn advanced to its first baseball state final since the turn of the millennium. Brian Lannino and Kevin Czapelski combined on a five-hit shutout as the Millers blanked Randolph, 4-0, the Group IV state semifinals.
Lannino went 5-1/3 innings, allowing four hits while striking out four. He ran into trouble in the sixth, when a walk, a hit batsman and a Mike Pine bunt single loaded the bases with one away.
In came Czapelski, who promptly struck out the next two batters to kill the rally. Czapelski also retired the side in the seventh to earn the save in the game played at the Morristown-Beard School.
Offensively, Czapelski had two of Millburn's four hits, including an RBI single in the third inning. The Millers took advantage of an error and two wild pitches in that frame to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, Millburn added two more runs on four walks and an RBI single by Max Birner. Jordan Brisgel and Richie Schiekofer scored twice apiece for the Millers.
Pine and James Bertelle had two hits apiece for Randolph. Starting pitcher Peter Huber allowed just three hits for the Rams, but was hurt by wildness and a key error that led to two unearned runs.
Randolph, which had a sub-par regular season, drew only the 14th seed in the sectional tournament, but made a surprising run to the North 1, Group IV title. The Rams finish at 15-15.
Millburn is now 23-6. The Millers won the North 2, Group IV title for the second straight year, but this will be their first trip to the state final since 1998. Millburn takes on Williamstown in the final at Toms River South High School on Saturday afternoon.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school baseball state tournament semifinal game, click play in the box at left.