Righthander Mike Walsh was, at times, stifling and at other times, gritty. The stifling part was nice but it was the grit that got him through five shutout innings and sent NY Dynasty to a 4-2 victory over the East Coast Lumberjacks on Monday night at Diamond Nation.
The victory secured for NY Dynasty the Columbus Day Showdown championship, an event each team had to earn its way into before they had a chance to show their mettle. Each team qualified with 3-0 records at Diamond Nation’s 17/18U Wood Bat Championships in September.
Walsh permitted just one hit over the game’s first five innings, striking six, walking three and hitting one batter. Fellow righthanders Sean Wing and Issaiah Batista pieced together the final two innings for Dynasty and tight-roped their way through a scary bottom of the seventh inning.
Justin Lopez’s single to center field leading off the third inning would be the Lumberjacks only hit in the game and NY Dynasty’s experience at the plate wasn’t much better. The Staten Island club managed just four hits off two Lumberjacks pitchers who were equally hearty on a cool autumn night.
Walsh, to his credit, also minimized the base runners. In fact, the only time he allowed two base runners in an inning was his last. He issued a pair of walks to Jake Shurgin and Tory Martin Rodriguez around two strikeouts in the fifth. Walsh remedied that predicament by picking off Martin Rodriguez off of first base to end the threat.
“My knuckle-curve was on,” said Walsh, committed to St. Peter’s University. “I was throwing it for strikes.” Walsh was getting good sink on the pitch and, because Walsh was finding the zone with it, the batters couldn’t lay off and were unable to barrel it. “I was going after them. I had a lot of confidence.”
NY Dynasty built a 4-0 lead on a pair of runs in the third inning and two
more runs in the fifth.
But that 4-0 NY Dynasty lead would shrink to 4-2 courtesy of five seventh inning walks. The Lumberjacks sent their top of the order to the plate and L.J. Bohne and Matthew Carrera put the Long Island team in business by drawing a pair of walks off Wing. The reliever got the No. 3 hitter to pop out but walked cleanup hitter Josh Knoth to load the bases and, suddenly, bring the tying run to the plate.
NY Dynasty coach Mike Glennersten pulled Wing for Batista but the result didn’t get much better, at least in the short term. Batista walked Damian Amancio to force home Bohne with the Lumberjacks’ first run. Batista then got the second out via strikeout with the potential winning run at the plate.
Showing good stuff but some dicey command, Batista walked Michael Lazardis to bring Carrera home with the second run. The Lumberjacks now had a chance to tie the game with a single. But to Batista’s credit, he harnessed his heat and breaking ball on the way to getting one more strikeout to end the game.
“Mike pitched with great tempo and worked really fast,” said Glennersten about his starter Walsh. “Everything he throws he throws for strikes and nothing is straight. Everything he throws moves. And with a wood bat, he’s even tougher.”
Walsh’s offensive support came more in the discerning, selective and timely nature of his teammates at bats.
Matt Jackson drew a one-out walk in the top of the third and moved to second on Anthony Iraci’s infield single to the left side. Jackson and Iraci then pulled off a double steal with Chris Polemeni at the plate. Polemeni, who would account for three of his team’s four runs, lifted a fly ball to left field just deep enough to enable Jackson to tag and score the game’s first run.
The right-handed Lazardis dotted a fastball on the outside corner to get the next batter and stifle the rally. Lazardis battled gamely with inconsistent command, permitting three runs on two hits over 4.2 innings. He struck out five but walked seven.
Lazardis walked two in the fourth but stranded the two Dynasty runners. He then struck out the first two batters of the fifth before Polemeni launched a triple to straightaway center field. He then walked Aidan Donovan and, in the process of walking Batista, uncorked a wild pitch to allow Polemeni to score NY Dynasty’s second run.
That was it for Lazardis but reliever Carrera walked Damien Van Cleaf and Alex Paulino to force home another run and boost the NY Dynasty lead to 3-0.
The Dynasty tacked on an important insurance run in the sixth on the LIU-bound Polemeni’s one-out RBI single to right field. Jackson singled with one out, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and, after a walk to Iraci, scored on Polemeni’s single. The Lumberjacks (2-1) turned a nice 6-4-3 double play to shut down the rally.
Walsh also gave NY Dynasty (3-0) a seven-pitch scoreless inning of relief in NY Dynasty’s first tournament win. He then threw 12 pitches in two scoreless innings of relief in Dynasty’s second win. He was then masterful in his five championship game innings.
“It was our last game of the fall so it was a nice finish,” said Glennersten.
NY Dynasty outscored its three tournament opponents 18-9. The East Coast Lumberjacks held an 18-7 runs advantage on their opponents.