Eric Jennings of Hudson Valley slides safely into third base as ball gets loose from third baseman.
By Sean Reilly
A complicated situation called for a simple approach from Jack Mannion, and the result was a game-winning hit.
Mannion, the third baseman and No. 2 batter for the Northern Westchester Outlaws American, came to the plate with the winning run on third base and two out in the bottom of the sixth inning in a pool play matchup on Saturday against the Hudson Valley Renegades at the 17/18 Homerun Classic Powered By Victus at Diamond Nation.
The game clock had already expired when the Renegades scored once in the top of the sixth to take a one-run lead, its first of the game.
With Northern Westchester allowed to hit in the bottom of the inning, Griffin Resnick scored the tying run on Chris Frisco’s RBI ground out to shortstop, which also moved Mikey Kotash from second base to third as the potential winning run with two out.
Up stepped Mannion, who unless he walked or was hit by a pitch, was likely to be the final batter of the game, with the outcome either being a tie or win for his team.
He rocked the second pitch to the gap in right-center field, allowing Kotash to score the run which gave Northern Westchester a 7-6 triumph in Flemington.
“I knew that I just needed to get a base hit,” Mannion said. “Run scored, game over.”
The score had been 1-1 before Northern Westchester struck for four runs in the bottom of the second. Ben Brolin led off with a walk, and Sam Levine reached on a bunt single that sent Brolin to third. Levine stole second before Owen Mintzer was hit by a pitch to load the bases. With the infield playing in, Resnick grounded a hard single past the second baseman and into the outfield to score the first two runs. A ground out by Eddie Bartoli and an RBI single by Frisco resulted in a 5-1 lead.
Hudson Valley scored a run in the fourth when it perfectly executed a double steal on a first-and-third play. Eric Jennings was the runner who stole home.
Hudson Valley drew within 6-5 in the top of the fifth. The inning began with walks to Andrew Engelhardt, Mike Valente and Danny Costello. After a pitching change, Severn Kinney hit a sacrifice fly to center. Sammy Bigolino singled across the other two runs. The Renegades reloaded the bases, but a fly out to left field and pop up to shortstop ended the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, the Outlaws had runners on second and third when the final out was recorded with just under a minute remaining on the 1:50 game clock. If it had reached zero before the end of the inning, the game would have ended in a tie.
Instead, the game continued on to the sixth inning, which began for Hudson Valley with Aiden Hartwell hitting a leadoff double and scoring the goal-ahead run on error that followed Engelhardt’s bunt single. A caught stealing and two fly outs followed. That sent the game into the bottom of the inning, which no matter the outcome, was guaranteed to end the game.
Resnick led off with a line single beyond third base. Kotash reached on a bunt single, and Bartoli’s sacrifice bunt advanced both into scoring position. Frisco’s RBI ground out to shortstop tied the game and set the stage for Mannion’s walk-off.
“We gave up the run, and had to get it back,” Mannion said. “We did that, and then I just had to get it in play and away from a fielder. I was looking for a fastball and I got it.”
“That was a great win,” Outlaws coach Anthony Amoroso said. “The guys played the small ball well, we emphasize that. We played catch well, I was really happy with the way the guys competed and picked each other up. Jack is batting second for a reason. He’s a stud. That was awesome. Everyone knew that was going to be the last inning, so I told them to not try to do too much and to just do their job.”
The Outlaws took that momentum into their second game of the day by defeating the DC Knights, 5-2. They’ll bid for an unbeaten pool finish against the Frozen Ropes Rockies (1-1) on Sunday morning.
The Renegades second game of the day was a 10-2 loss to the Rockies.