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Caldwell's freshman Nick Bergamotto has been a boost to the batting order for the Chiefs this spring and his sixth-inning, bases-loaded 3-run double was the big hit in his team's 6-1 North 2, Group 2 state tournament first round win over Lodi in a game played at Kiwanis Oval. (Photos by Gene Nann-visit www.genenann.smugmug.com)

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Lodi scored its lone run after a walk and back-to-back stolen bases by Robert Klawans before he scored on a wild pitch; however, Sanderson settled down nicely once again, retiring the final five batters he faced, including registering three more strikeouts.

“I’m a smaller guy (5-foot-7) and I look up to greats like Pedro Martinez who can really locate their pitches, and try to hit spots,” said Sanderson, who improved to 3-3 on the season with an ERA right around 2.00. “We’ve faced a lot of good competition in the SEC this season, teams with a number of kids who are going to play baseball in college, and I think games in our conference really help prepare us for the states.”

For his coach, watching the team’s ace perform in a big spot to help the team advance is full of positives.

“Ryan is very dependable, he throws strikes and was hitting his spots today,” said Sasso, Jr. “He’s has lots of fire, is very competitive out there on the mound and is our best guy.”

Caldwell, which scored two runs in the second inning thanks to a balk called on Vartolone, and then a bases-loaded hit by pitch of Petrillo, has been a bit up and down at times this season with an early 3-game losing streak before winning four of five prior to a 4-game losing skein prior to finding its way once again with late-season wins over the likes of SEC-American Division teams West Essex and Montclair, is still a team to be reckoned with.

“Every game has been tight all year long,” said Sasso, Jr. “We see good opponents each time out in our conference and there has been a bounce her and a bounce there and we have been up and down, but that’s the way it breaks sometimes.

“Still, we feel we’ve been a pretty good team that has played some good baseball as well and hopefully we can continue that trend as we move into the next round of the states.”

GAME NOTES- Caldwell's senior clean-up batter Frank Gencarelli had a strong day at the plate vs. Lodi going 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI single in the sixth inning when he drove in Bergamotto with their team's sixth run...Caldwell's lead-off batter, center fielder George Petrillo and No. 3 hitter, shortstop, Mike Maida, each had two hits...Among those taking in the action on Monday at Kiwanis Oval was Caldwell coach Dennis Sasso, Jr.'s dad, Dennis Sasso, Sr., the former coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University, who still works with pitchers, including Caldwell's Sanderson...Lodi, had three straight winning seasons before this spring, is guided by 10th-year coach Kurt Geisler.

North 2, Group 2 State Tournament First Round:
(10) LODI (11-13)                   000   001   0    - 1 R 2 H 1 E
(7) CALDWELL (13-11)          020   004   x     -6 R 12 H 1 E     
2B- Lodi- Kevin Rodriguez Caldwell- Frank Gencarelli, , Mike Maida, Nick Bergamotto
W.P. Ryan Sanderson (3-3) L.P. Vincent Vartolone (3-3)                  

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Caldwell's Ryan Sanderson leaps in the air in attempt to retreive throw from his catcher Ross Mehl after wild pitch allowed Lodi's Robert Klawans to slide in safely in the sixth.

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