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Third baseman Jake Barbiere is one of the steady position players for Randolph which will host Morristown in Tuesday's N1G4 semis. (Photos by Aaron Matthews)

Morristown coach Ed Collins has seen his Colonials rise to the occasion in states

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Like Morristown, Randolph is seeing its hard work and challenging schedule pay off in late May. Unlike the Colonials, the Rams' journey to the semifinals has lacked the same in-game drama as the Rams blitzed Memorial, 9-0, in the first round and Belleville, 10-0, in the quarterfinals.

Third baseman Nicolas Ferragine has been a revelation since being moved into the leadoff spot, scoring 14 runs in 11 contests this month, including six in the state tournament. Randolph's top four in the order of Ferragine, John Melillo, Stu Backer and Mike Pine have combined to hit 14-for-29 in two playoff games with 10 runs and 10 RBI.

"I can't say enough about our one through four guys, they really have jump-started this offense," Randolph coach Doug Anderson said. "We need them. If they don't perform, we're not going to score runs."

The quartet has offered plenty of support to pitcher Peter Huber and the senior has responded beautifully, winning both game while not allowing a run in 10 innings.

Like Morristown, the Rams took their lumps early on, especially with such a young roster. But Anderson feels the challenging schedule his team face, which included out-of-division games with Seton Hall Prep, Hunterdon Central, Pope John, Mahwah and Ridge has paid off in the last week.

"We played a tough schedule and our motto was to really compete. We did that, but we didn't really find a way to win games," Anderson said. "When you play against teams of that caliber and you play enough games where you stay in them, you start to learn how to compete and how to win instead of just coming up close. I think it prepared us really well for the state tournament."

Coach Doug Anderson's Randolph Rams attempted to better prepare themselves for the state tournament with a number of noteworthy out-of-conference independent opponents.

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