Go Yard’s Mike Rosamilia sets up to do damage at the plate in 18U World Series.
By Joe Hofmann
Tim Travesano raced back two steps, slowed down, looked up, and … oh no.
That’s when the Go Yard left fielder knew all hope of catching it was lost.
His team’s lead was gone.
Soon, the game would be lost, too.
Avengers catcher Matthew Razzis’ long blast over Travesano’s head for a three-run homer gave his team the lead in what turned out to be a wild 7-6 victory in the 18-year-old wood bat World Series at Diamond Nation Thursday.
The Avengers allowed single runs in the first and second innings, cut the deficit in half with a run in the fifth but then allowed another in the top of the sixth.
That’s when the game took a sudden and dramatic turn in the Avengers’ favor.
Go Yard staged a wild comeback in the top of the seventh but it fell short.
The Avengers erupted for six runs in the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage of two early miscues in the inning to set the stage for Razzis.
First, reliever and losing pitcher Ben Haines struck out Chris Parillo but the ball eluded the catcher and Parillo reached safely. Braden Rieg reached on an infield error to put two on, setting the stage for Razzis’ long bomb to left.
Razzis, who will be a senior at Parkland High School in Pennsylvania, hit a home run with a wooden bat earlier in the week. He didn’t like how he was swinging earlier in the summer so he made the switch.
“My hands were getting too high and I was getting beat inside,” he said. “Now, I keep my hands closer to me and I try to hit the ball to right-center.”
The Avengers added on. Turns out, they would need all they would get.
Colin Foley singled, Ian Ferrara walked, and Owen DeLong doubled to right center to bring home Foley before Michael Cole’s sacrifice fly plated Ferrara.
One batter later, Michael Oliver singled to right to score DeLong to make it 7-3.
Game over? No … and yes.
Razzis, who’d caught winning pitcher Evan Wittig the first six innings, came on to close it out. He issued a walk to Chris Morel and a single to Ethan Leon and, one out later, walked Travesano to load the bases.
Vince Pepe reached on an infield hit for one run before Billy Tigar got aboard on a Razzis’ throwing error to make it 7-5.
Then, with the bases loaded, Jacob McNamee hit a long sacrifice fly to center for the second out but the runner on second base attempted to go to third and was thrown out, ending the game.
The left-handed Wittig found his missing changeup and managed to pitch six innings for the win. He gave up three runs on seven hits, striking out four with no walks and three pickoffs at first.
“He threw strikes and we played defense behind him,” Avengers coach Blake Barthol said. “Turns out, we needed to make a defensive play to win.
Evan pitched really well. He didn’t blow people away but he kept us in the game. He battled and did what was needed. He got his changeup back in the second or third inning and he didn’t have it in the first inning or so.”
Razzis, meanwhile, showed off a strong arm behind the plate and wants to catch on the next level. Several neighboring D-2 schools are interested.
“I enjoy catching,” he said. “I want to be a catcher in college. I get to see the whole field and see what is going on. I pride myself in my catching.”
His swing, new as it may be, isn’t too shabby.
Editor’s Note: The home plate umpire working the game is Rick Malwitz, the former assistant sports editor at the New Tribune (Woodbridge). Malwitz interviewed and later hired Joe Hofmann, the writer of this game story, back in 1984. The world is a small place and we keep bumping into each other.