Ben Sachs would fly out to right field on the this pitch from L.I. Scouts’ Dom Schuch.
Sergei Vichnis of Beast Baseball 2021 put two-and-two together and came up with a fastball on 3 and 2. The result was a clutch two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh that secured a 1-1 tie with Long Island Scouts Academy in the Super 17 Invitational at Diamond Nation.
Vichnis then relieved starter Mike Masciello with a runner on first base and one out in the bottom of the seventh and retired the only two batters he faced to nail down the tie.
Vichnis had carried with him a bit of guilt heading into his big at bat and his thorough relief performance in closing the game.
“I kind of felt like, after the error, I had to do something,” said Vichnis.
True, Vichnis kept finding himself in the middle of things in this competitive and tightly played contest.
Long Island Scouts Academy scored its only run in the bottom of the third after Brendan Topper reached on a fly ball to center field that Vichnis lost in the sun. Topper advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on Rob Burgos’ single through the left side. Masciello then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Topper to score.
That 1-0 lead held strong into the seventh thanks to strong pitching on both sides. Righthander Dom Schuch shut out Beast 2021 through six innings on two hits. He struck out eight and walked five. Masciello permitted just the one unearned run on four hits. He struck out four Long Island batters and also walked five.
“My fastball, changeup and curveball were all good today,” said Schuch, who issued three of his walks in the first inning when he, nonetheless, got out of the jam without surrendering a run. “I started focusing on pounding the zone after that and not just trying to throw it hard.”
Schuch struck out the side in the second inning on his way to retiring 16 of the last 19 batters he faced through the sixth inning.
Masciello started a little ragged, too, but got out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning as well. The righthander, in fact, battled gamely with runners on base all game and continually got out of trouble. He stranded two runners in the second inning, a runner on third in the fourth, and two more runners in the fifth.
“We hung in the game thanks to our pitching,” said Beast 2021 coach Matt Rocchio. “We made good contact, but they made some good defensive plays on us.”
Long Island third baseman Matt Hirschking made a great play on Zachary Gordon’s slow roller to get an out in the third inning. Second baseman Dom Rivera went to deep in the hole behind first base to snare a grounder by Ben Sachs in the fourth. Shortstop Rob Burgos made a nice play on a grounder in the fifth and first baseman Topper made an even nicer play digging Burgos’ throw out of the dirt.
Beast 2021 had its share of gems, too. Shortstop Pederson was flawless on all six of his chances and made a couple gems of his own.
The well played game all lead to the seventh inning and the big at bat by Vichnis, the Beast 2021 leadoff batter, against the Long Island bullpen. Pederson led off the inning and was hit by a pitch. He moved to second with one out when a pickoff throw got away. Vichnis then stepped in with two outs and with a shot at redemption. He would work the count to 3-2 as if to intentionally heighten the tension.
“He started me with a fastball and went to a curveball,” said Vichnis. “But when he couldn’t locate the curveball he went back to the fastball.” Vichnis got the count to 3-2 and fouled off a fastball.
“He had to go to the fastball,” said Vichnis, who lined it into left-center field. Center field Chris Bartho dove for the ball but could only trap it for a single as Pederson raced home from second with the tying run.
Game Notes: Schuch carried a 1.90 summer ERA into the game before tossing six shutout innings. … Both teams conclude their Super 17 Invitational tournament on Thursday. Long Island Scouts Academy sits at 1-1-2 in tournament play. Beast 2021 is 0-3-1. … Jersey Boys and PS2 Academy are at the top of the standing through Wednesday at 4-0. Jersey Boys gets the nod for the top spot right now having outscored their opponents 33-3. PS2 Academy owns a 46-12 runs advantage on its opponents.