Pulitano delivers clutch double in 7th for Hudson A’s in Blue Chip

By DN WRITING STAFF | August 3, 2023

Cole Mackin began the A’s seventh inning rally with a two-out walk.

By Rich Bevensee

The Hudson A’s are one of those rare club baseball teams with a roster of players entirely from the same high school, Arlington High in Lagrangeville, N.Y. Coach Mike Jackson said it’s that built-in chemistry which makes the team a pleasure to teach.

Because of his affection for this team, Jackson said it’s been difficult to watch his players suffer more than their share of close losses this summer. 

On Wednesday at Diamond Nation in Flemington, on the eve of his team’s final game together this season, the A’s erased much of that frustration and gave Jackson a victory to remember.

Logan Pulitano stroked a three-run double with two out in the top of the seventh to give the A’s the lead, and Liam Suozzo struck out the last two batters with the tying runs on base to preserve a dramatic 4-2 win over Diamond Jacks Super 16U in the 17/18 Blue Chip Prospects Powered By Victus.

“Joy. That’s what I felt when it was over,” Suozzo said. “When you’ve been on the short end so many times, there is nothing better than the feeling of a comeback win. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

“The team really needed that one,” said Jackson, whose team handed the Diamond Jacks (2-1) their first loss of the week. “We’ve been on the short end of one-run games a lot this year so it was good to pull that one out. I’ve been coaching some of them since they were in Little League, so I’m very proud of how they never quit.

“Tomorrow is our last game together, so that’s going to be tough,” Jackson said, tapping his heart. 

The A’s (2-1) conclude Blue Chip competition – and their season – against MVP Grindtime Travel Baseball 16U on Thursday at 2:15 p.m.

The Diamond Jacks had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh before Suozzo, a rising senior at Arlington, slammed the brakes on the drama in his fourth and final inning of work.

“I was jittery, I ain’t gonna lie,” Suozzo said. “Obviously it’s in the back of your mind that the tying runs are on base. Most people stress out, over-complicate it and get all jittery on the mound. To me, you have to simple it down and throw strikes.”

Henry Ayers doubled and scored to kick-start the Diamond Jacks’ scoring.

Suozzo pitched the final four innings and allowed one run on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

“Liam’s our guy, our strike machine,” Jackson said. “It was good to have him there. We really trust him to throw strikes.”

The A’s trailed by a run heading into the seventh because Dylan Wayne, the Diamond Jacks No. 11 hitter, ripped a double to right which scored Soren Gregor from first in the bottom of the sixth and broke a 1-1 tie.

Gregor, who came on in relief of starter Blake Echternacht in the fifth, got the first two outs in the top of the seventh before the A’s rallied. Cole Mackin walked and Jaden Rosario and Dan Doyle both singled to load the bases.

Up to the plate strode Pulitano, also a rising senior at Arlington and the A’s No. 10 hitter.

“I knew I was going to be the sixth batter of the inning so I didn’t think I was going to get up,” Pulitano said. “And I’ve been struggling this summer, so I was thinking I don’t know if I’m going to make it happen here. Then I remembered my Dad gave me a great pep talk. He said, ‘I have confidence in you. Just go up there and give me your all.’ ”

Pulitano, who singled and struck out looking in his first two at bats, swung at Gregor’s first pitch and blasted a double to the wall in right-center and cleared the bases.

“I can’t remember being in a game-winning situation before, but if I had, I know I’ve never been successful,” Pulitano said. “Standing at second, it felt like I’m the best hitter in the world, like from now on I can face anybody and make it happen.”

“Logan is one of our pitchers so he really has had limited at bats this season, and he’s been struggling when he’s been in the lineup,” Jackson said. “Today was his best day. His biggest hit. It’s perfect. Good for him.”

Both starting pitchers were exceptional while turning in similar performances. A’s righty Logan Sajdak stranded three runners in scoring position and allowed one run over three innings on four hits and no walks with two strikeouts. Diamond Jacks righty Echternacht permitted one unearned run on four hits and one walk with two strikeouts in four innings. 

Another coincidence was that both starting catchers were responsible for their team’s first runs of the game. 

In the top of the first inning, A’s catcher Christian Adorno walked, stole second and scored on an infield throwing error following an Eric Santaella ground ball for a 1-0 Hudson lead.

The Diamond Jacks tied the score in the bottom of the second when catcher Henry Ayers doubled, stole third and scored on a John Donahue sacrifice fly.

The hard-throwing Gregor – his fastball topped out at 86 and stayed in the mid 80s – entered the game in the fifth for the Diamond Jacks and promptly struck out the side. He pitched three innings and allowed three runs on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. 

The Diamond Jacks defeated TBT Ballers N.Y. 2024, 13-6, and Taconic Rangers North, 7-4, earlier this week. They finished the event against MVP N.Y. 2024 on Thursday at 12:15 p.m.

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