Interstate Baseball uses deep lineup to fend off D1 Renegades

By Bob Behre | July 22, 2020

Zach Drukas of Interstate Baseball batting in the fifth inning of his team’s victory over D1 Renegades.

Timely RBI hits by Thomas Parisi, Nick Cutaia and Anthony Febo helped stave off a D1 Renegades rally as Interstate Baseball held on for an 8-4 victory in an 18U Diamond Nation World Series pool play game on Wednesday in Flemington.

Parisi relieved in the fourth and shut down the Renegades over the final three innings, permitting just a single base-runner. The victory pushed Interstate Baseball to 2-0 in the tournament with the team’s final two pool play games scheduled for Thursday.

The Renegades conclude tournament play this week at 1-3.

Interstate Baseball’s starter, UConn-bound senior righthander Bobby McBride, had held the Renegades scoreless through two innings, including retiring the side in order in the second inning. McBride’s command, however, betrayed him in the third as he walked two batters and hit three others with pitches. All that wildness led to four Renegades runs that trimmed a 6-0 deficit to 6-4.

Jack Eskland led off with a double to right-center field to start the rally, but that would be the Renegades’ only hit in the inning. No matter, consecutive one-out walks to Alex Zeszotarsky and Devin McKinley loaded the bases. McBride proceeded to hit Eric Axelsen and Eli Berezny to force home two runs. One out later, Christian Petino was hit, too, and the lead was down to 6-4. Axelsen had scored on a wild pitch during Petino’s at bat.

But Interstate Baseball was not rattled.

Parisi singled through the left side to score Bryce DeGroat with two outs in the top of the fourth, extending the lead to 7-4. Jacob Krauss had drawn a walk to lead off in the inning, DeGroat reached on a fielder’s choice then stole second. DeGroat took third on a wild pick off attempt before Parisi’s clutch single.

Parisi relieved in the fourth inning and settled things down immediately. He retired the Renegades around a two-out walk to Eskland, then struck out the side in order in the fifth. He had another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, too, to retire nine of the 10 batters he faced.

“Thomas is not really one of our big arms but he’s our shutdown guy,” said Interstate Baseball coach Steve Erker. “He’s going to be a two-way guy in college. He’ll play center field and close.”

Parisi’s teammates chipped in with tack-on runs in the fifth and sixth innings to give the Union (N.Y.) College-bound senior some breathing room. Kobe Mentzer led off the fifth with a ringing double down the left field line, his second double of the game. Nick Cutaia followed with a single that threaded the middle of the diamond and chased Mentzer home for an 8-4 lead.

“Kobe can swing it,” said Erker.

Pat Purcell and Aidan Hicks got things going in the sixth for Interstate Baseball, opening the inning with back-to-back singles. Catcher Anthony Febo, known for his outstanding defense, followed with a single to center to score Purcell for a 9-4 lead. Febo had delivered in the first inning as well, ripping a two-out, two-run single into left center to stake his team to a 5-0 lead. Febo is a rising senior bound for Iona.

Jack Williamson of Interstate Baseball gets set to launch in 18U Diamond Nation World Series.

Leadoff batter Parisi got the six-run rally going in the first when he hustled out a slow roller to the right side for a single. Nick Montagna followed with a grounds rule double to left-center field and Interstate Baseball was quickly in business. Mentzer walked to load the bases and Parisi scored the first run on a passed ball.

Montagna scored when Cutaia reached on an infield error to boost the lead to 3-0. After Febo’s single made it 5-0, Jacob Krauss and DeGroat drew consecutive walks to force Purcell, who had walked earlier, home.

“We had a rough third inning,” said Erker, “when we got ourselves in trouble. But we’re going to swing the bats.”

Interstate Baseball takes on Rising Stars Baseball at 8 a.m. Thursday then faces the Locked In Baseball Expos at 9:50 a.m. Both games are on Field 4. Two wins would put Interstate Baseball in position for a playoff berth on Friday morning.

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