GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Forget about the combined no-hitter.
Sam Daggers was just thrilled with the Absegami High School baseball team’s first win over Ocean City in five years.
Daggers, Rudy Kreutzer and Adrian Ramos did not allow a hit in seven innings as Absegami beat Ocean City 8-1 in a matchup of Cape-Atlantic League National Division contenders Tuesday afternoon.
“For me being a senior, we had never beaten Ocean City before,” Daggers said. “It’s a big accomplishment for me to just get over that hump. If we won this game 5-4, and they had a bunch of hits, it would be just as important. The no-hitter is cool, but I think the win is just a little more important.”
Absegami (5-1) has won five straight games. The Braves had lost nine straight to Ocean City, the last victory against the Red Raiders coming May 9, 2014.
“This was a big game for our guys’ psyche and confidence,” Absegami coach Mike DeCicco said.
Daggers, a Wagner College recruit, pitched the first five innings. He struck out seven and walked three. Daggers’ curveball was effective early, but he relied on his fastball.
“The fastball for me has always been my pitch,” he said. “I feel like I throw it with conviction. That’s how it works with me, and I had a decent feel for it today.”
Daggers threw nearly 100 pitches. DeCicco made the decision to take Daggers out of the game.
“I know Sammy,” DeCicco said. “We talked and he told me, ‘Whatever you want to do.’ That just shows his leadership. At the end of the day, it’s a long season, and he’s our guy. We have to make sure we protect him.”
Kreutzer pitched the sixth inning. He hit a batter, walked two and allowed a run but escaped the inning with a flyout and a swinging strikeout.
“This feels amazing,” Kreutzer said. “When I’m down in a hole, I’m just thinking what’s the next thing to get the next out and help my team out.”
Ramos retired the side in order in the seventh and final inning on three groundball outs.
“I just had to get the job done,” Ramos said, “and trust the people behind me.”
The Braves’ pitchers benefitted from standout defense from shortstop Jason Rapisardi, who turned hard-hit groundballs into outs in the first and fifth innings.
“I’m just happy to have a great lineup and a great defense to back us up today,” Daggers said. “That’s what you need to win games, especially games like this.”
The Absegami offense put constant pressure on Ocean City with 11 hits. The top of the batting order was especially effective.
Leadoff hitter Kevin Snyder was 3 for 4 with three runs scored. Second-place hitter Shane Nanek was 3 for 4 with two runs scored. Daggers, batting third, was 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
“We have a veteran group,” DeCicco said. “We try to keep things as simple as possible. Good things typically happen in high school baseball when you put the ball in play.”
Tuesday began a pivotal stretch for the Braves. They play division rivals Cedar Creek (4-3) on Wednesday and Mainland Regional (5-0) on April 23. The win over Ocean City (5-3) should give the Braves an emotional boost.
“I’m really excited,” Daggers said, “to see what this team can do the rest of the season.”
Ocean City;000 001 0—1 0 3
Absegami;103 103 x—8 11 1
2B: Nanek, Muniz, Ardente A.
Records: Ocean City 5-3; Absegami 5-1