Wladyka Continental catcher Kyle Watson erased two EABO runners during the game.
By Sean Reilly
Wladyka Continental never trailed in its victory over the EABO Riverdawgs 17U on Friday evening at Diamond Nation.
Nevertheless, the 4-2 win at the Super 17U Fall Invitational was all about comebacks, specifically those by pitchers Parker Rutkowski and Adam Lopez.
Rutkowski, pitching for the first time in two weeks after an illness, started and allowed three hits over four scoreless innings.
Lopez, meanwhile, allowed two unearned runs on four hits over the last three innings. Most importantly, he put forth his third, and most effective, outing after missing six months with a labrum tear.
Rutkowski, a senior from Pope John, was happy to back on the mound for Wladyka Continental, comprised of a combination of players from the Bergen County organization’s National and American teams.
“It was my first time back on the mound in almost two weeks,” he said. “It set me back a little bit, because I feel that my velocity is a little behind what it’s normally at. I felt it was a little slow today, so I kind of just kept strict with my mechanics and worked with what I knew. It felt nice to get up and move without feeling dead in the body.”
Lopez, a senior at St. Mary’s in Rutherford, was elated to be throwing the best thus far in his comeback after missing the entire high school and summer seasons. He opted for rest rather than surgery, and endured a tough wait, particularly as he was relegated to spectator when his St. Mary’s team was runner-up in the NJSIAA Non-Public B tournament in June.
“This is my season,” he said of the fall campaign. “I missed out in the spring and summer and I hated it. I love being back out there. It was six months of rehab. This was my third outing and probably my best. The first one was good, I thought, and the second one was a little rough. It felt good today. Everything was working and I was getting my off-speed in there.”
Wladyka Continental took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third.
Mateo Figundia led off with a walk, and took third when Rutkowski followed with an opposite field double that glanced off the fence in right field.
Jaesun Waldman then hit a slow grounder that got past the pitcher and in front of the shortstop for an RBI single. He took second on a wild pitch, and Andrew DePaul walked to load the bases.
Wladyka Continental courtesy runner Sean Lauterhahn scores on sac fly by Lucas van Gendt.
With the top of the order now coming up, Lucas van Gendt and Ryan Radigan hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to deliver the second and third runs.
Rutkowski left after the fourth inning with five strikeouts and five walks. He was helped by catcher Kyle Watson, who threw out one runner trying to steal second, and picked off another at second.
Wladyka Continental added to its lead in the fifth inning, when Figundia walked with one out and came around to score his second run on a sacrifice fly by DePaul with the bases full.
Lopez entered in the fifth. After allowing a leadoff single, he settled in when the next batter lined out to right field, with the runner doubled off first base. He struck out the next batter looking.
EABO, out of the Easton, Pa. area, used an error and single by Anthony Suffness to put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth. Lopez responded by striking out the two and three hitters in the lineup to maintain the shut out.
EABO scored twice and had the tying runs on base in the seventh, through no fault of Lopez.
After a single and a walk put runners on first and second with nobody out, a 5-5-3 double play left a runner on second with two out. The next batter hit a routine fly to right field that was dropped, allowing the first run to score.
The next batter also reached on an error, putting runners on first and third.
Anton Secero followed with a slow grounder between home and third that went for an RBI single.
With runners now on first and second, Lopez struck out the next batter looking to end the game.
He finished with four strikeouts and one walk.
“I’m looking to get my work in and prepare for the high school season,” Lopez said. “That’s what I want the most. I can’t wait to get back to the high school season and do what I missed out on last year.”
Wladyka Continental followed up the victory by posting a 12-0 triumph over the Locked In Expos 17U Black. EABO ended the night with a split, after a 2-0 win over Complete Performance 17/18U in its nightcap.