MANALAPAN -- It did not take long for the Howell Rebels boys baseball team to know they were in trouble, Monday afternoon.
Facing a lethal Manalapan lineup, Howell ace Dan Watson ran into trouble early, loading the bases on three walks, leading to a grand slam to put the Rebs behind the eight-ball early.
The Rebels pushed across just one run, in the top of the second inning, but left several runners on base, unable to string together enough hits to bring about a rally, falling 8-1 at Manalapan High School.
Watson allowed seven earned runs — a season high for him — on four hits, four walks and striking out one batter over his three innings of work.
"With a team [Manalapan] like that, if you put runners on base, they're going to punish you," Howell head coach Eric Johnson said.
Howell Catcher Kyle Conrad belted a one-out single in the second inning. After a single from Brody High, Jack McCabe, the courtesy runner for Conrad scored on an RBI single from Nikhil Porecha, notching the Rebel's only run of the game, making it a 4-1 ball game.
Brad Nejemian came in relief of Watson and was outstanding, throwing three innings, allowing just two hits, one earned run and struck out four batters on the day.
After scoring in the second, the inning ended with runners on the corners as Jesse Ferigno flew out to right field.
Joe Raccuglia had a strong game as usual, with a leadoff single in the third inning and a one-out base knock in the fifth inning but was left stranded at first base both times.
Howell totaled seven hits on the day.
Conrad had an impressive game behind the plate, throwing out the only runner that tried to steal on him in the first inning, despite injuring his arm when he was hit with a foul tip in the fourth inning.
Howell threatened to score in the fourth inning from lead-off singles from Conrad and sophomore Jordan Reizer. After a strikeout by High, Porecha grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Raccuglia and Conrad each went 2-3 on the day, leading Howell.
Howell will continue a stretch of six games in six days today, as they travel to take on CBA.
The Rebels mercied the Colts, 10-0 in the teams first meeting this year.
Since taking over the helm at Howell last year, Johnson is 4-0 against rival CBA.
"Its enormous," Johnson said of that game, "I think the boys will really be able to put this behind them and be up for that game. We'll be ready."