Presented By South Jersey Sports Zone
EWING – The Trenton Generals captured the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League title with a pair of wins over the North Jersey Eagles at Moody Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Generals won the first matchup 12-7 and cruised to a 7-1 victory in the second contest to capture this season’s crown and improve their overall record to 25-15.
Bishop Eustace graduate Chase Conklin reached base an astonishing 10 times in the two-game set and collected seven RBIs (six in the 12-7 victory). The Mullica Hill, New Jersey native also scored four runs and notched seven hits in the series.
“This one meant a lot more than any other,” Conklin said. “It was a proving year. I put my heart and soul into baseball every day, every time I step on the field. I wanted this one as bad as anyone.”
Conklin’s contributions didn’t end there.
The Generals shortstop made the biggest defensive play of the day to help seal the first victory and set the tone for the remainder of the afternoon.
“He made the defensive play of the day at shortstop,” Generals owner/general manager Mike Olshin said. “Ranging deep in the hole, (Conklin ended) the Eagles biggest threat, when they closed (the gap) from 9-1 to 9-5 in Game 1 and had two runners in scoring position in the fifth.”
The Richmond infielder set playoff records for the Generals in hits (11), batting average (.579) and runs batted in (11). Conklin also finished 19-for-36 in his final 36 at-bats of the season and didn’t strike out in his final 43 plate appearances.
“Chase is the favorite to be named league MVP this year,” Olshin said. “He also was the best defensive player in the league and played out of his mind at shortstop. He was our best base runner and our most heads-up player.”
Highland graduate Dylan Maria picked up the win on the mound in the decisive 7-1 win after delivering six innings of work and surrendering only five hits. Maria struck out two batters, walked three and only allowed one earned run against the ACBL’s highest scoring offense.
It was Maria’s longest outing since high school.
“What worked out for me was mixing up my pitches and keeping hitters off balance,” Maria said. “We scored runs early in the game, so I was able to settle in and find my groove easily with the run support I had.”
“It felt great to come through big in the championship game,” he added. “I was a bit nervous because it was my first starting pitching outing in a while and I wasn’t sure how I’d do in later innings. I also love big moments like these, so I felt like that helped me perform better.”
Josh Willits, Conklin’s roommate at Richmond, struck out four batters over the final two innings to seal the victory. The Seneca graduate allowed zero runs on no hits.
Paul Cooke also notched a pair of hits in the second victory of the afternoon.
The Generals won their first ACBL title since 2014. First-year manager Jeremy Hefele became the youngest manager to win a championship in league history at 24 years old.
“Jeremy did a fantastic job,” Olshin said. “He was the right guy to get the job done. He did everything we expected as far as dedication, communication, and the ability to work with a group of highly talented baseball players. He has a bright future. I hope this experience helped him bridge the natural learning curve that comes with experience. Seeing him make history as the youngest manager to win an ACBL title is a testament to everything he did during the season.”
Photos courtesy of Mike Olshin
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(Photo Credit: Kevin Emmons)