Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Franco Rips Two Homers to Lead Wh

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Franco Rips Two Homers to Lead Wh

Article excerpt

HAWTHORNE -- Finally, Chris Franco rediscovered his swing. The hulking designated hitter for Wayne Hills had mechanical flaws that were recently addressed.

"I was stepping out with my front foot," said the 6-foot-5, 260- pound junior, who also plays football. "I spent a lot of time in the cage trying to correct it."

Indeed, Franco found his rhythm Saturday, slugging a pair of long home runs as the Patriots defeated fourth-seeded Hawthorne, 7-1, in the Passaic County tournament quarterfinals.

The fifth-seeded Patriots (15-10) advanced to Saturday's semifinals against top-seeded Lakeland at Passaic County Tech at 1 p.m.

Franco showed signs of busting out of his midseason slump (which saw his batting average dip more than 80 points) in the previous two games, but the righty-swinging power hitter helped put away the pesky Bears (12-8).

After striking out in his first at-bat, Franco (2-for-3, five RBI) lined a fastball over the left field fence for a two-run shot, doubling the lead to 4-0 in the top of the fourth inning.

In the sixth, Franco's titanic three-run blast made it, 7-0, giving him three homers this season.

"Chris [Franco] is a big kid with fast hands," Wayne Hills coach Fran Rella said.

"This is his first year on varsity and he's had to work through the slump in the cage. Today, he hit the ball on the screws; he stayed back and just drove the ball."

Right-hander Erik Moskal (6-3) spun a three-hitter, with four strikeouts, three walks and two hit batters on 106 pitches for the win.

Moskal was perfect through the first 10 batters before hitting a batter. In the fifth, senior Billy Grofsick singled, breaking up the no-hit bid.

The Bears then had two runners on in the same inning but a double- play and infield pop-up ended the threat.

Sophomore Kyle Grofsick rounded the bases in the seventh for the Bears, singling to right but a three-base fielding error manufactured their lone run. …

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