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After Byram Hills went 1, 2, 3 in the first inning of yesterday’s Section One, Class A Final at Provident Bank Park, Bobcat starter Frank Vesuvio came out blazing fastballs against first seeded Rye. But he found himself behind 3-1 in the count to leadoff hitter and starting pitcher Tim DeGraw. The advantage had DeGraw teeing off on Vesuvio’s heater, which found the gap in left-center for a double.
After Tim Hale dropped a sacrifice bunt, Sam Lubeck lined another fastball into right for a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, Vesuvio’s problems did not end there. A walk and a hit batter later, Rye went up two when the Bobcat threw wildly into right on a pickoff play at first. The tough start looked like the ending wouldn’t be any better. But the Tournament MVP settled down, began mixing his pitches and Byram Hills brought home the trophy.
Good defense leads to good offense.
Still, the Bobcats might have been stopped in their tracks had it not been for a defensive one-two punch in the infield. On a DeGraw one-hop line drive to second, Tom Gagliardi made a diving stop, and when his throw pulled Nick Contillo off the bag, the first baseman was able to make the swipe tag for the out.
Riding the gem into the third, Mike Aberman lined a single into right. Vesuvio then took a first-pitch fastball with two outs over the left fielder’s head to cut the lead in half.
After Rye went quietly in the bottom half, Kellen Hatheway doubled to deep center to lead off. However, the Bobcat roar that began with the blast seemed headed for a whimper. John Spadafino struck out swinging and Contillo flied out. But Jake Stuckelman was able to slap a bloop into right to tie the score and got to second when the ball got past the left fielder.
An easy ground ball to second seemed to have DeGraw out of the inning, but Brendan Cassano booted the ball. Kevin Wietsma reached, and after a wild pitch scored Stuckelman, a single to right by Aberman knocked in Wietsma.
Umpires don’t cover all their bases.
Up 4-2, Vesuvio didn't let Rye answer back in the fourth. But a perfectly executed hit and run with two outs in the fifth by Lubeck almost undid the Bobcats and the three-man umpire crew. Lubeck’s single rolled under the glove of Aberman in right and DeGraw scored all the way from first.
Hatheway took the relay, while the second base ump held his position. Missing one from the normal four-man umpiring crew, the home plate ump didn't slide up the third base line to cover the play.
No call made, the fiasco had the three umpires looking at each other, and the crowd booing the glaring indecision. The displeasure clearly became localized to the Rye side after the umpires conferenced, and the out call was made.
Vesuvio closes the door.
But while the Rye faithful lost their composure, the Garnet's didn’t after Ryan Anderson replaced DeGraw on the mound. He got the Bobcats in order in the fifth and was assisted by some great infield defense in the sixth.
After Stuckelman reached on an error, shortstop Ryan Ciardiello went deep into the second base hole to get the out at first. When Aberman tried to score all the way from second, first baseman George Kirby gunned him down at the plate.
It wouldn't be enough, though. Vesuvio confidently took the mound and seemed oblivious to what was at stake. Following a fly out to left, Vesuvio didn't miss a beat after he and the catcher collided on a foul pop up that fell to the ground. Simply retaking the mound, he got George Kirby to pop to second, and Rye was soon toast. Campbell Schulz’s easy fly ball to left made Byram Hills the section one champs.
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Byram Hills JV Baseball vs John Jay