River Dell cruises to 10-0 win over Cresskill in Bergen Invitational Tournament Quarterfinals

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Battling through an up and down 2021 season, the River Dell Golden Hawks varsity baseball team started out losing their first six of seven games, rebounding to win four out of their next five games, dropping the next two, and recently back on the winning track, winning two straight.

Attempting to win their third game in a row for the first time this season, River Dell(8-9, 1-5 Big North Patriot) faced off against Cresskill(7-6, 4-3 NJIC Patriot) in the Bergen Invitational Tournament Quarterfinals on Sunday morning at River Dell High School.

Getting the starting pitching nod for River Dell junior Aidan Cochran, who retired the first six batters in a row, including a pair of strikeouts in the first inning.

"I just felt good starting from the first inning," Aidan Cochran explained. "I usually struggle to pitch in the first inning, but I felt fine today and through the entire game." It felt amazing with the insurance runs, pitching and going after kids, and throwing anything I could.

The Golden Hawks offense sprung to action in the second inning. Clutch two-out hitting proving to be the common theme in the inning. Right-fielder Brendan O'Neill smashing a triple off Cougars starting pitcher Keil McGee into the right-center gap as third baseman Jack Guerrero scored from first base. Following O'Neill, second baseman Mike Mellett drilled a single into left field that brought O'Neill across home plate. After Mellett swiped second base, centerfield Matt Kelm drove Mellett in with a single.

Brendan O'Neill describing the second inning, "Started with a Jack(Guerrero) got hit by the pitch and then I hit the shot to right-center and just a great feeling that brought the team momentum, and we just kept rolling with it throughout the game." "We just wanted to put the ball in play, choke up and find the gaps."

River Dell Head Coach Dennis Sasso on the performances of Brendan O'Neill and Matt Kelm, "Brendan's ball really kind of set the tone today because we have been talking about when the ball is away, and he(Brendan O'Neill) took it out into right-center and really kind of opened a lot of things for us." "He took a lot of good swings today, got the ball rolling from there, and we were able to put together some good offense."

"They're doing everything that we asked them to do, stay in the middle of the field and make good contact." "Force guys to make plays, and good things start to happen when you start to spray line drives all over the place." It's nice to have a book ending lineup at the top and bottom, making sure we have that depth."

Locked in on the mound, Cochran fanned a pair of hitters in the third. After yielding a one-out walk in the fourth, Cochran relied on solid infield defense that turned a stellar double play.

In the bottom half of the frame, O'Neill ripped his second hit of the game. After stealing second base, Matt Kelm(3 for 3) drove in his second run of the game, hammering a single to centerfield.

Registering the first two outs in the top fifth, Cochran appeared on his way to retiring the side in order. However, Cresskill's Bryan Messinger reached on an error committed by Jack Guerrero, followed by Cresskill getting their first hit on an infield single by Jeremy Connelly. With runners on the corner, Cochran kept his cool, whiffing Joe DiTore to escape the jam.

Padding the advantage in the bottom half of the fifth inning, the Golden Hawks tacked three additional runs. Brendan O'Neill collected his third hit of the game on an RBI single to left field.

Meanwhile, Cochran kept rolling along on the hill, striking out two more hitters in the sixth to increasing the total to seven in the game. River Dell closed out the scoring with three more runs in the bottom half of the inning that resulted in the 10-run Mercy Rule that ended the game.

Next up for the Golden Hawks in the Bergen Invitational Tournament, a semifinal match-up against Tenafly on Wednesday with the first pitch set for 4:15 p.m. Head Coach Dennis Sasso on the keys to a victory, "It's all got to be the team in all three phases of the game now, offensively, defensively, and on the mound." "As long as we got guys picking up the baton from one another, we're going to be okay."

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