Randzio’s sterling relief secures Jefferson’s first win

By Bob Behre | April 5, 2024

Jefferson’s Ty Labagnara eyeballs a pitch in sixth inning of Friday’s game against Wallkill Valley.

It was a game that had zero semblance of order, pace and, at times, appeal. Then Jefferson’s Jake Randzio stepped on the mound and brought order to that chaotic world.

The Jefferson and Wallkill Valley baseball teams seemed determined to promote aging in the small number of parents, siblings and fans who braved the chilly April breezes at Diamond Nation in Flemington on Friday afternoon.

In the end, the redeeming quality of the early-season NJAC encounter was Randzio’s four mostly tidy innings of work that shut down the Wallkill offense while allowing his teammates to rally to a 10-7 victory.

“I was throwing fastball, slider, change and just throwing strikes,” said Randzio. “I was pumping strikes. That was the big factor. I didn’t let up.”

No, he didn’t. The junior righty permitted just one hit and one run, which was unearned, struck out seven and walked just one over the final four innings as Jefferson (1-1) turned a 7-6 deficit into a 10-8 victory. Randzio earned the win for his work, but somehow he should have also gotten a save, too, because that’s what he did at the very end.

“I really was just pounding the zone and trying to get our first win of the season,” said Randzio.

Jefferson has scored 22 runs and rapped out 31 hits in its first two games of the season, one of which is an 13-12 opening day loss to Vernon. But the Falcons have, conversely, permitted 21 runs. That made Randzio’s relief effort critical, memorable and one that drew an appreciating chorus.

“We have seven or eight pitchers who are kind of the same, so we need to see some of them step up and earn their roles,” said Jefferson coach Jason Kalish. “Jake is one who is starting to earn trust.”

Randzio is one of several Falcons underclassmen finding his way, but one thing Kalish hasn’t had to be concerned about thus far are his team’s bats, whether swung by seniors or underclassmen.

Jefferson struck for six runs in the bottom of the second to take a 6-2 lead. The big hits in the rally were senior Jack Orlando’s two-run single and sophomore Josh Hall’s three-run triple. Hale also had a single, drew a walk and added a sac fly. He scored twice and knocked in four runs.

Wallkill Valley (0-1) answered immediately with a five-run top of the third to regain the lead at 7-6. Jefferson committed two errors in the inning and Zack Clarken delivered a two-run single for the Patriots.

Randzio entered in the fourth and retired the side in order, a sign of a changing tide that was, as yet, unclear.

Junior Dylan Rockey tied the game in the bottom of the fourth for Jefferson on a single to center field that scored Hale.

Winning pitcher Jake Randzio of Jefferson takes his cuts against Wallkill Valley’s Ruben Gomez.

Randzio retired the side in order again in the fifth, seemingly leading directly to Jefferson’s two-run rally in the bottom of the inning. Wallkill handcuffed itself by allowing the first two batters in the inning to reach via errors. After longtime Diamond Jacks player Nick Do drew a walk to load the bases, Hale brought Hunter Warner home with a sac fly for an 8-7 lead. Then Orlando scored from third on a balk.

Randzio, apparently, was just heating up the previous two perfect innings because he proceeded to strike out Wallkill Valley in order in the sixth, pitching with an urgency that Kalish had to love. When Ty Labagnara singled with one out and eventually scored on a wild pitch, Jefferson took a more comfortable 10-7 lead into the top of the seventh.

Randzio then had his first unclean inning, triggered when he issued a leadoff walk to Logan Slater. Slater would score with two outs on Jefferson’s second error of the inning. But Randzio closed it out with a three-pitch strikeout.

NOTES: Jefferson’s stars at the plate included Orlando (single 2 RBI, 2 runs), Do (single, walk, run), Mednick (double, RBI), Labagnara (3-for-3, double, walk, 2 runs) and Warner (single, two runs).

… Wallkill Valley received impressive season openers from Jack Veith (single, triple, 2 runs) and Tyler Haberstroh (single, 2 RBI).

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *