The Verona Hillbillies battled from behind all night long on Tuesday, May 3, coming up just short against Cedar Grove on a perfect evening for baseball at Yogi Berra Stadium. A crowd of around 700 watched the Hillbillies get off to a rocky start in which they spotted the Panthers a 7-0 lead. The tenacious Verona squad chipped away at that lead, however, setting up for a thrilling finish.
Heading into the 4th inning, Jon Tosh came into relieve senior starter Alex Sniatkowski, who was making his first start since returning to the rotation with a broken wrist. The sophomore Tosh did an excellent job keeping the Panthers bats quiet the rest of the way and helping Verona stage a comeback. The Hillbillies got on the board in the 4th inning when Chris Ohlweiler doubled and was brought home after hits by Mike Verschleiser and Mike Congero, making it 7-1.
In the 5th inning, Ohweiler reached on an error, Vershleiser walked as did Nick Looney who was batting for second baseman Matt Rubins. With the bases loaded and nobody out Brian Hill, Tim Kiernan, Jason Lawrence and Luke Sniatkowski all had base hits to bring the Hillbillies within one run. This would set the stage for what would be an exciting and controversial final frame that still has Hillbilly loyals shaking their heads in disbelief.
Down 9-6 heading into the last inning, Kiernan doubled off the wall, Congero was hit by a pitch and Lawrence singled. With bases loaded, Luke Sniatkowski singled Kiernan home, making the score 9-7. Matt Rosenfeld hit a hard shot down third base, making for a collision at the plate where Congero was called out.
This all set up the game’s most controversial play, in which Ohlweiler lined a ball down the first base line that went off the glove of Cedar Grove senior Mike Nieglos, bringing in two runs. Thinking the Hillbillies tied the game and were at least headed for extra innings, the fans’ mood changed drastically when the umpire ruled it a foul ball. As disbelief over what was perceived as a questionable call against Verona settled in, Cedar Grove closed the game out for 9-7 victory.
Fred Goode took the slideshow of the game.