Ocean County Tournament: Barnegat vs. Pinelands Overview

Ocean County Tournament, 4/30


Barnegat vs. Pinelands regional 

In the first round of the Ocean County Tournament, Barnegat took on Pinelands Regional. In his first start back from a 2 week long NJSIAA transfer rule suspension, top draft prospect 2016 LHP Jason Groome was masterful. CG 7 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 13 K in a shutout. But do not disregard the pitching performance of Pinelands 2019 LHP Noah Dean just yet. The freshman, on a big stage in front of over 50 major league scouts, did his job to keep his team in the game. Dean went 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 5 K. He was able to keep the Bengals’ bats in check for most of the game.


The only scoring in the game came in the third inning, highlighted by 2017 SS Aaron McLaughlin’s (Rutgers) double with one on to make it second and third for the Bengals. With the infield up, Dean got Barnegat’s number two batter, centerfielder Collin O’Connor, to ground softly in between shortstop and third base. 2019 3B Anthony Diaz came up with the ball, but collided with 2019 SS Joey Ventresca. Diaz’ throw to home was late, and Barnegat was on the board. With McLaughlin at third, O’Connor at first, and DH Justin Diefenbach at the plate - O’Connor broke for second early trying to get Dean to balk. Dean stepped off the rubber and threw to second base to get the out while McLaughlin stole home easily, making it 2-0.


That’s all the help Groome would need on this day. Sitting 90-93 and touching 94 a few times, Groome overmatched the Pinelands offense and did not allow a runner passed second base. Pinelands’ only threat to score came in the top of the 6th. Groome got a strikeout to start the inning, but walked Diaz. After another strikeout Groome then walked Ventresca. With two on now and two outs, Groome got number four batter Jared Strang to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the threat. In the top of the 7th, Pinelands’ RF Ryan Ross led off with a base hit, only the second allowed by Groome. But the big lefty got Dave Lunn swinging and then got Pinelands catcher Dave O’Brien to ground back to him to start a 1-6-3 double play to end the game.


As we get closer to tournament time around the state, expect the competition to heat up. There have already been some big upsets, cannot wait to see what is in store for County and State Tournaments. Stay tuned, Jersey.