Staff Report

The Somers Point Captains aren’t dead yet!

The Captains spent much of the South Jersey South Shore Baseball League season mired in the bottom of the standings after dealing with a bunch of injuries, but this week Somers Point won a pair of games — 3-2 over the Galloway Mustangs and a dramatic, eight-inning walk-off 5-4 win over Egg Harbor City on Thursday night in the regular season finale to grab the 10th and final playoff spot in the 11-team league.

The Captains (4-16) travel to Ocean City tonight at 7 to take on the seventh-seeded Water Dogs. The winner of the “Play-in” game, which essentially what the first round of the playoffs is, takes on the No. 2 Buena Blue Dawgs in a best-of-3 quarterfinals series beginning Monday night at Buena. In the other play-in game, held Thursday night in Egg Harbor Township, the No. 8 Eagles outlasted No. 9 Galloway, 4-2. EHT will face the No. 1 and defending league champion South Jersey Surf on Monday in the quarterfinal round at Northfield’s Birch Grove Park.

Egg Harbor City — fighting with the Captains for the final playoff spot — grabbed a 4-3 lead with a run in the top of the eighth, but Somers Point rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning to win in dramatic fashion. Chris Baker — normally a pitcher and reserve first baseman — picked a great time to come up with his first hit of the season, as he knocked in the tying run with an infield single. Jack Perry — a former state champion with Ocean City two years ago — then chased home the winning run with a broken bat infield single. The rally was sparked by a huge double down the right-field line after a 10-pitch at-bat by former Eastern Regional standout Matt Karpousis.

“It was amazing to see guys like Karp, Baker and Perry come through for us in that situation, they’ve been grinding all year and have been team players,” said Captains coach Dave O’Sullivan. “Winning that game was a testament to the heart and hustle these guys have put in all year. We’ve had low numbers at times because of injuries and our pitching plan didn’t work out the way we thought it would, but a lot of guys have stepped up, including Brady Blum, who was absolutely huge for us in the win over Egg Harbor City.”

Blum, a rising junior at Mainland Regional High, pitched 7 2/3 innings, settling down after giving up three runs in the top of the first to hold the Knights scoreless for the next six innings. Blum allowed just five hits and three earned runs while striking out three. Dylan Stezzi, another Eastern High graduate who now plays at Rochester University in New York, slammed a two-run home run early on to tie the game, 3-3, and help force extra innings. Karpousis, Stezzi and Perry combined for seven of Somers Point’s 12 hits.

Tyler Monzo, an Oakcrest graduate who threw 86 pitches on Tuesday in a tough 2-0 loss to Galloway in the opener of a doubleheader, came on in relief in the top of the eighth with two outs and the bases loaded, and worked out of the jam with a strikeout to give the Captains a chance in the bottom of the eighth.

“I can’t say enough about the guts of this kid Monzo,” O’Sullivan said. “He’s had multiple games this season when he’s been up over 100 pitches, and even pitched 10 innings in a game earlier this year, all after coming back from some injuries during his college season. He just loves being out there competing, and I think the other guys really feed of that kind of attitude.”

In the other play-in game, EHT got a huge boost from ACIT graduate Kevin Keil, who went the distance and struck out five in the Eagles’ 4-2 win over Galloway. The loss eliminated the Mustangs from the playoffs.

Here’s a look at the South Jersey South Shore Baseball League quarterfinal matchups, which begin Monday at 7 p.m. at the higher seed. Each series is best-of-3, with the winners advancing to the semifinals, which begin July 25:

No. 1 South Jersey Surf (17-3) vs. No. 8 Egg Harbor Township (8-12) (Game 1 at Birch Grove Park in Northfield)

No. 2 Buena Blue Dawgs (15-6) vs. No. 7 Ocean City Water Dogs (9-9) or No. 10 Somers Point Captains (4-16)

No. 3 Absecon Outlaws (13-8) vs. No. 6 Hammonton Hot Shots (10-11)

No. 4 Northfield Cardinals (13-8) vs. No. 5 Ventnor Bay Sox (12-9) (Game 1 in Ventnor/Northfield is the home team)