Saturday, June 1

POMPTON LAKES — Paul Tanis wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Kevin Magee on Friday.

Magee, Pompton Lakes‘ unbeaten junior left-hander, hadn’t started on three days’ rest this season. By the first inning, however, Pompton Lakes’ coach knew Magee would pitch just as well, if not better, than he did Monday.

Magee threw a three-hit complete game Monday and struck out 12 against Wayne Valley to lead Pompton Lakes to the Passaic County final.

Magee’s encore in the North 1, Group 1 final Friday was a two-hit shutout, a masterpiece in which he matched his career high with 14 strikeouts during the second-seeded Cardinals’ 7-0 defeat of fourth-seeded New Milford (21-8).

The victory gave the Cardinals (24-4) their second straight sectional title and a second tournament championship within a 24-hour span. They also defeated top-seeded Lakeland, 8-6, in the Passaic County final Thursday at Passaic Tech, Pompton Lakes‘ first county championship since 1996.

“It’s been really exciting the last couple days,” said Sean Lindberg, Pompton Lakes‘ senior second baseman. “It’s pretty hot out, but to get the county title and the [sectional] title on back-to-back days, it’s a great accomplishment.”

Unlike their victory over Lakeland, in which they overcame a 5-1 deficit, the Cardinals didn’t need to sweat it out in 90-degree heat Friday.

They scored twice in the first, on senior catcher Jon Steele’s RBI double and senior third baseman Connor Lavin’s RBI single. They struck for five more runs in the third, mostly thanks to junior first baseman Mike Coss’ grand slam to right.

The homer was Coss’ second in as many days. His three-run homer in the sixth snapped a 5-5 tie and put Pompton Lakes ahead for good against Lakeland.

“Mike has come up big in big spots for us, with runners in scoring position,” Lindberg said. “He’s got a lot of power.”

Coss’ production in the Cardinals’ last two games is impressive, but Magee’s numbers from Friday were remarkable.

He was extremely effective and economical. Magee threw 64 of his 89 pitches for strikes and twice struck out five straight batters.

“He was amazing,” Coss said. “Everything was working [Friday]. He was hitting spots and he was throwing hard. … He does it every time he’s called on. He’s 9-0 on the year, with an ERA under 1.00. He has done everything you could ask for.”

Magee also worked quickly in a seven-inning game that took just one hour, 19 minutes to complete.

“I felt strong,” Magee said. “I felt like I got the velocity up there again. I thought, for the most part, my curveball was working early on. But my sinker definitely was the go-to pitch [Friday]. It was tailing low and away to righties, so we got a lot of guys to chase it.”

Pompton Lakes, which lost to Audubon in the Group 1 final last season, advanced to the Group 1 semifinals. The Cardinals will play the winner of today’s North 2, Group 1 final between Roselle Park and Dayton at 4 p.m. Tuesday at William Paterson in Wayne.

“This team is not going to be 100 percent satisfied unless they take everything,” Tanis said. “They’re a greedy bunch, but they know they’ll have to earn it.”