TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Who says dreams don't come true?
St. Augustine junior third baseman Christian Carmolingo had one Friday night and lived one out the next day.
Carmolingo certainly capped a dream season for St. Augustine with a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth inning that scored Misael Aponte with the winning run in Saturday's 8-7, extra-inning victory over Pope John XXIII for the state Non-Public A baseball championship at Toms River South.
Aponte was hit by a pitch with two outs. Carmolingo then crushed the ball into left-center field, scoring the only run off reliever Conor McGlynn.
The conclusion was a slight variation of Carmolingo's actual dream Friday, but it was close enough.
"I had a dream that I got the game-winning hit," Carmolingo said. "I think [in the dream] it was a home run, but I will take a gapper."
The Friday dream couldn't have conjured up all the improbable scenarios that led to the first state title for St. Augustine (27-4), The Inquirer's No. 2-ranked South Jersey team.
This was a game in which the two starting pitchers, Rutgers recruit Brendan Mayers of Pope John and Matt Rakus, entered with a combined 19-0 record. By the end of two innings, 11 runs had scored.
When Pope John extended its lead to 4-0 in the top of the second, it seemed as if it might be more than enough for Mayers (10-0).
The Hermits foiled things with a seven-run second inning, highlighted by a three-run double by Anthony Cocuzza and two-run homer by designated hitter Carlo Randazzo.
Both teams loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning and neither scored, keeping the game at 7-7.
Ed Charlton, who pitched four shutout innings to earn the win, got two pop outs and a strikeout on a 3-2 count to escape the sixth. By the ninth inning, Charlton looked gassed, although he was keeping Pope John from scoring.
"I wanted to keep going, and I didn't care how long it took," Charlton said. "I'm a competitor."
So are his teammates.
St. Augustine had to be at its competitive best because it faced an excellent Pope John team.
What's interesting is that on a St. Augustine team that includes eight seniors, a junior got the winning hit.
For much of the year, the seniors have been the center of attention and deservedly so, but this was a time for a junior to enter the spotlight.
"Christian did exactly what we showed him to do, and it couldn't have happened to a better kid," St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone said. "He is one of the few back next year, and this could be a springboard for us."
And a lasting memory for Carmolingo.
"It means so much," he said. "You couldn't get a better game than this because the other team played a great game and we played fantastic."
Carmolingo will remember not only the winning hit, but also being mobbed by his teammates afterward.
He can be excused if he still thinks he is dreaming, but the best feeling he'll experience is realizing that Friday's dream truly came to fruition.
Pope John 130030000 - 7101
St. Augustine 070000001 - 8115
WP: Ed Charlton. LP: Conor McGlynn. 2B: PJ-Matt Tietz, Glenn Gavan, Alex DeBellis; SA-Anthony Cocuzza, Christian Carmolingo. HR: PJ-Glen Gavan, Alex DeBellis; SA-Carlo Randazzo.