Will Christopher struck out seven and drove in two runs in Middletown South's 8-2 victory over Marlboro on Monday afternoon.
It was the second time the Eagles defeated the Mustangs in a Class A-North battle in three days.
The Eagles had a 1-0 lead after Marlboro pitcher Tyler Villa balked with a player on third, resulting in the first run of the game in the top of the third inning.
Christopher struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to keep Middletown South up one. But he faced trouble in the fourth after allowing a single to Alex D'Ambrosio and hitting a batter. He forced two consecutive flyouts with runners on second and third to get out of the inning unscathed.
"I just trust the defense," Christopher told Jersey Sporting News. "When I go out there, I just try to get outs. I don't really care how I get them. I know some kids go out there and try to strikeout everyone. I just want to get through every inning. My defense made plays today, so I put a lot of trust in them and that's what got me out of jams."
In the fifth inning, Middletown South tacked on three more runs, two off the bat of Christopher, who roped a single into the outfield to bring home pinch-runner Ryan St. Clair and Evan Wood.
"Up to this point I haven't had the year I wanted. But today I had a lot of confidence with that hit, and it boosted me up in the batter's box," Christopher said. "Going in there I just wanted to get those runs in. I think it meant a little more that I was pitching, and this is my win if I get those runs in. So, I was just trying to do the job and focus in the batter's box."
After adding three more runs in the top of the sixth, the Eagles held a 7-0 lead over the Mustangs. But in the bottom of the inning, Marlboro got on the board with two runs off pitcher Evan Wood.
Defensive errors by the Mustangs and a lack of offensive power ultimately resulted in another loss to their A-North competitors.
"That's life in the A-North," head coach Craig Helfgott said in a post-game interview with Jersey Sporting News. "We'll bounce back, and we'll be ready. We have another good team in Howell coming in [Tuesday]. Life in the A-North doesn't get any easier, but we'll be ready. We have a strong group, a lot of senior leaders, and we'll be ready to bounce back."
The Mustangs (2-3) face fellow A-North team Howell on Tuesday and Thursday.
When asked what Marlboro must do to improve and be competitive in the conference, Helfgott said, "It's always a little bit of everything. Our approaches at the plate need to get a little better with guys on base. That's where we struggled a little bit early on in scoring runs. I'm confident that we'll make those adjustments. We've played very good defense early in the season."
"Today got away from us with a couple of errors on plays we would normally make. Just all around defensively, offensively, being a little more aggressive on the bases, hunt the pitches early in the count. We'll continue to work on these things to improve."
Meanwhile, the Eagles (3-2) have four games in the next five days, two against A-North competition as they face Long Branch on Tuesday and Thursday.
"To stay hot in the conference, we have to keep hitting the ball. All year our pitching has been good, our defense has been good, but our hitting has been a little shaky. Today we really brought the bats alive. We have to keep this up. We have a couple more big games this week and I think if we come out of it with a winning record it's going to do a lot for our confidence and we're going to be better off this year," Christopher said.