This was a baseball game that said as much about the losing side as the winning one.
So many positives can be stated about both teams after Washington Township held on for a 7-5 win over Audubon on Saturday in a quarterfinal of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic at Deptford.
Township jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Audubon scored one run in the fourth and four in the fifth and sent the potential winning run to the plate in the sixth and the potential tying run in the seventh.
"There is no game we think we are out of," Audubon third baseman Bob Panico said.
Township has a slightly different take on the same mind-set.
"We go in with the mentality that we don't think there is a team that can beat us," said Township leftfielder Justin Sommermann, who hit a two-run home run and an RBI double.
Considering that Township (19-5-1) hasn't lost this month, with 10 straight wins, one can see why the Minutemen have that mentality.
Not only did Township lead by 7-1 after four innings, but freshman righthander Nick Evangelista had limited Audubon to one hit.
Since the advent of NJSIAA state championships in 1971, Audubon (17-4) has won eight state titles, more than any other public school team in New Jersey. The Green Wave are two-time defending state champions, so this was not a program that was going to fold.
And in the fifth inning, with Evangelista showing some fatigue, Audubon came back, cutting the deficit to 7-5 on a grand slam by junior centerfielder Eric Schorr.
"This shows we can compete with anybody," Schorr said.
The damage could have been worse in the fifth, but Audubon had two baserunning miscues.
"We made some bad blunders on the base path, and if we had done a better job, we would have been all right," Green Wave coach Rich Horan said.
One thing for sure is that Township played fundamental baseball. The Minutemen didn't commit an error and recorded double plays in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Throw in timely hitting from players such as Hughes, who was 3 for 4 with two runs scored, and Township showed it is a team that won't beat itself.
"They are a good team who can hit and field and run, and they did that and it all happened in one inning for them, but we found a way to stop them," Hughes said.
Good teams tend to do that.
This shouldn't be characterized as a David vs. Goliath matchup. Township is a huge Group 4 school, and Audubon competes in Group 1. Yet Audubon always has played with a Group 4 mentality.
Both will be very difficult to unseat in the always-competitive state tournament, which will begin Monday.
At least Township and Audubon should be comforted to know that they won't have to face each other in the state tournament, a luxury some other Group 4 and Group 1 contenders won't enjoy.
Washington Twp. 021 400 0 - 7 10 0
Audubon 000 140 0 - 5 10 2
WP: Nick Evangelista. LP: Austin Tassi. 2B: WT-Shaine Hughes, Justin Sommermann, Colin McAllister. HR: WT-Justin Sommermann; A-Eric Schorr.