TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Ocean City first baseman Tyler Reich refused to take the bait.
Shortly after his team lost, 15-3, to Cranford in the state Group 3 baseball championship at Toms River North, Reich wasn't in a mood to reflect on a successful season. The game ended after 41/2 innings because of the 10-run rule.
Even though Ocean City (21-9) enjoyed a landmark season, Reich, who went 3 for 3 with an RBI, could focus only on the matter at hand.
"Today we played like we didn't deserve to be on the field," said Reich, a Villanova recruit. "Give them credit because they hit the heck out of the ball, but to go out this way is very tough."
Reich acknowledged that, as time goes by, he will appreciate this season, one in which the Red Raiders won the school's first South Jersey baseball title since 1946.
Since the advent of NJSIAA state playoffs in 1971, Ocean City became the first public-school, Cape-Atlantic team to reach a state final.
"It's been a great ride, but a game like this is embarrassing," Reich said. "I understand that nobody can take away what we achieved, but we wanted a better final game."
Of course, Cranford (26-5) had a lot to do with Ocean City's misfortune.
The Cougars blew the game open with six runs in the second inning to take an 8-0 lead. They added six more in the third, four on a grand slam by first baseman Nick Cook, a Widener recruit,
"We knew they were a good team," Cook said. "We came out first punching and never stopped."
They were some pretty serious body blows. Cranford rapped 14 hits.
"I felt we didn't bring our best game," said Ocean City coach Craig Mensinger, whose team is ranked No. 10 in South Jersey by The Inquirer. "Against a team like this, you have to bring your best game."
For Ocean City, Robbie Zauck had a two-run double in a three-run fourth inning. The double came after Reich literally knocked freshman lefthander Ryan Williamson out of the game with a line drive that went off the pitcher's left wrist.
After the game, Mensinger reminded his players of all they had accomplished.
"As a coach, you tell them to keep their heads high," Mensinger said. "We felt we could win, but they just got momentum and ran with it."
Ocean City 000 30 - 3 6 1
Cranford 266 1x - 15 14 0
WP: Kurt Rutmayer. LP: Connor Ortolf. 2B: C-Robert Ghiretti, Seat Trotter; OC-Robbie Zauck. 3B: C-Greg Matlosz, Nick Pace. HR: C-Nick Cook.