TOMS RIVER - Barnegat High School pitcher Mark McCoy allowed the leadoff hitter to reach second base with no outs in the seventh inning Saturday afternoon.
He did not allow a run.
But that feat wasn't thrilling enough.
McCoy allowed the leadoff hitter to reach third base with no outs in the eighth inning.
Again he did not allow a run.
McCoy propelled the Bengals to a 2-1 win over Toms River East in the first round of the Ocean County Tournament. McCoy struck out nine and allowed two hits in six innings for the win. Nick Fraim knocked in the winning run with a single in the top of the ninth.
"I just wanted to get ahead of the hitters and keep battling," McCoy said. "You have to fight your way through it. There's no other way to say it."
Barnegat, the No. 9 seed, will play at top-seeded Jackson Memorial in the quarterfinals, probably Thursday.
Barnegat came into Satur-day's game with extra motivation.
Not only was it the Ocean County tournament, but the Bengals (9-6) felt a bit perturbed at being the No. 9 seed, especially since they beat eighth-seeded Toms River East (6-9) on April 23.
"I don't think we're the ninth-best program in Ocean County," said Barnegat coach Dan McCoy, Mark's father.
Barnegat's Rob DeSanti pitched the first three innings, allowing four hits and a run.
McCoy came on in relief to start the fourth inning. That was the plan, according to Dan McCoy. By only throwing six innings, Mark McCoy is available for games in the early part of this week.
McCoy is one of the region's top pitchers. The left-hander consistently throws in the high 80s and occasionally the low 90s. He has committed to attend Wake Forest University on a scholarship, but there is a chance he could be selected in next month's major-league draft.
East had its chances against McCoy. With the score tied at one, he walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning. An East pinch runner then stole second.
That brought Dan McCoy to the mound for a visit. The coach did not mince words with his son.
"I think he's his own worst enemy at times, but he's a competitor, and he's always going to go after it," the elder McCoy said. "I had to go out there and give him some tough love."
Mark McCoy ended the inning with a pop-up and two swinging strikeouts.
East had an even better a chance to score in extra innings. High school games are scheduled for seven innings.
East led off the bottom of the eighth with a bunt. McCoy fielded it and threw the ball down the right-field line. The runner sped around the bases and ended up at third.
"I didn't think we were going to get out of that one," Dan McCoy said.
With no outs, East tried a squeeze play. The batter missed the bunt. After a brief rundown, McCoy slapped the tag on the runner for the second out.
McCoy had warned Fraim, the catcher, that East might try a squeeze.
"I saw the batter square a little early, so I threw outside to where he couldn't (bunt) it," McCoy said.
After the failed squeeze attempt, McCoy got the next two outs on a strikeout looking and a flyout to right.
While McCoy flirted with allowing a run, the Bengals mounted very little offense against East starter Dan Foley, who threw all nine innings.
That changed in the top of the ninth when Ryan Ulrich led off with a single. After a stolen base and strikeout, Fraim hit a 3-2 pitch up the middle for an RBI single.
"I choked up on the bat and waited for the fastball," Fraim said.
The bottom of the ninth was uneventful as McCoy retired the side in order.
The win was a big one for the Bengals. East, a Group IV school, is a perennial power. Barnegat is a Group II school.
"We wanted to make a statement," McCoy said, "that we should have had a home game (by being one of the top eight seeds). But it is what it is and now we move on to the next game."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Barnegat 000 010 001-2 5 1
Toms River East 010 000 000-1 6 2
WP-McCoy (4-0). LP-Foley.
Records-Barnegat 9-6; Toms River East 6-9.