While they seem to come closer every single season, New Rochelle once again went down to bitter league-rival Mamaroneck on Thursday in a 2-0 loss. The Huguenots took the Tigers into extra innings on Wednesday, and once again found themselves in a position to win today. But Mamaroneck starter Will Hofmann really settled in nicely to pitch a complete game shutout, relying heavily on his ability to throw his offspeed pitches for strikes. New Rochelle starter Andrew Zigmont also pitched well, but a few missteps in the second inning doomed a Huguenots team that couldn’t come up with the big hit. Zigmont took the loss for the first time since his sophomore season. He had won 10 straight decisions over that span coming into today’s game.
To be completely honest, it was pretty clear to me that there’s not a huge talent difference between these two teams. Both of these games were very evenly matched, but the Tigers just seem to have that winning pedigree and knack to pull out close games. That may still come for New Ro, and Mamaroneck coach Mike Chiapparelli made it clear to me after the game that this is a team to be reckoned with.
“Everybody is watching them already – they know they’re good,” he said. “They’ve got two good pitchers (in Zigmont and Wednesday’s starter John Valente), and they hit. … If you don’t have good pitching, they’re going to rope you that team.”
The Huguenots started the game with a few ropes. New Ro coach Pete Annunziata shuffled his lineup a bit, moving Valente — who certainly seems to be their best all-around player — to the leadoff spot after he went 3 for 4 in Wednesday’s 4-3 loss. Valente had been hitting third for the majority of the season, but Annunziata was looking to get him in position to have as many at-bats as possible.
It looked like the move would pay immediate dividends. The junior SS drove the second pitch he saw to the left field wall, missing a leadoff homer by just a few feet as Gerry McMullin caught it with his back against the fence. I thought it might get out off of the bat since LF is the shortest portion of Mamo’s home field.
“Last year, yes,” Chiapparelli said when asked if he thought it might leave the yard. “This year (with the BBCORs), it goes out hard and it stops. I’ve seen it all year.”
The next two hitters in the Huguenots’ lineup — Danny Dasgupta and Jayson Gray — each lined out hard to CF, and it seemed like New Ro was all over Hofmann. They went down 1-2-3, but they were three very loud outs.
“I thought we swung the bats well,” Annunziata said. “Not only in the first inning, but it carried over for the first couple of innings. We seemed to be swinging the bat well, but balls were going right at people. We couldn’t seem to get a break.”
While the Huguenots picked up a few hits and made some hard outs in the first few innings, Hofmann started having more successful when he went to his changeup and curveball.
“Yesterday, I found out that they were really good fastball hitters,” he said. “I tried to use a lot more offspeed today, and it really worked well.”
We had Hofmann’s fastball sitting in the low 80s on the gun, but it was his ability to throw those offspeed pitches that got the New Ro hitters off balance. The changeup was working especially well, and he definitely caught a few guys out in front.
“His changeup was really good, and when they were looking for the changeup, he threw his curveball in there,” Chiapparelli said. “His breaking stuff is real good.”
Zigmont pretty much matched Hofmann, except for a few hiccups in the bottom of the second. Usually praised for his control, the Johns Hopkins-bound lefty walked three batters today — which is a relatively high number for him.
A two-out walk to Connor Bingham brought Alex Sposito to the plate, who laced the first pitch he saw to deep right-center field. Sposito’s RBI double glanced off of the glove of a sliding Jared Wiesel to score Bingham.
“To be honest, off the bat I did not think so,” Sposito said when asked if he thought the ball would land. “I thought he was going to get to that. He’s an amazing outfielder. Yesterday he made some great plays, so I thought it was a for sure out.”
I scored Sposito’s hit a double because it would have been a great catch if Wiesel had made it, and both coaches agreed. Parker Thelander was up next, and he hit a liner to CF that Wiesel had to charge. It was another tough play, but it was scored as an error because he got his glove on it and was on his feet. That made it 2-0 Tigers, and that would be the extent of the scoring for both teams.
“Both were tough plays,” Annunziata said. “Both would have been really nice plays… I did appreciate the effort that Wiesel made. We’re just so used to him making that play, especially the one coming in. I thought for sure he was going to make that play. So yeah, it’s disappointing when that happens, but you have to recover. There was plenty of game left.”
Zigmont shut things down for the rest of the game, allowing five hits and the one earned run in six innings pitched. He struck out four on 88 pitches (54 for strikes).
“Ziggy always puts out a great effort,” Annunziata said. “They were doing a good job in the beginning of the game of staying back on him. They had the right approach to try to go the other way on him. His control wasn’t exactly as it always is, but it was good enough to win.”
New Ro’s best opportunity to score came in the top of the sixth. Dasgupta led off the inning with a single and Gray followed with a walk. Annunziata put on the bunt sign for cleanup hitter Phil DiBuono, but he popped up his attempt to pitcher. After Wiesel flied out to RF, Malik Burts hit a single to load the bases. But Hofmann reached back for a strikeout to end the inning and keep the scoreboard clean for Mamo.
“All series – yesterday and today – we had plenty of opportunities,” Annunziata said. “We must have left the bases loaded three or four times, and obviously the team that comes through with the clutch hit is the team that walks away with the win.”
Hofmann improved to 5-0 on the season thanks to his CG effort. He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out five on 101 pitches (68 for strikes). With him and ace Michael Williams, the Tigers seem to have a 1-2 punch that can do some damage in the postseason.
“It feels great,” Hofmann said. “I knew last year I would hopefully come in and be the No. 2 starter, so that’s what I thought about all offseason. We have great defense and great hitting, so that really helps.”
Mamaroneck is now in prime position to clinch its sixth consecutive league title if they can take care of business against Mount Vernon. They had some close ones against New Ro, White Plains and Scarsdale, but came out of it 6-0 once again.
“I tell everybody that,” Chiapparelli said of the difficulty of playing in this league. “When they say they’re easy teams, I say, ‘Well, then you play them.’ You play year in and year out, and you’re going to play each other hard. … I know it’s always going to be a battle, and Pete has done a really nice job with this group. They come and play.”
New Ro was the last team other than Mamo to win a league title back in 2006. That was also the last time that the Huguenots beat the Tigers. Annunziata is now 0-10 against them since taking over as head coach.
Here are the rest of the results from Thursday:
Beacon 13, Lakeland 9: At Lakeland Wednesday, Nick Mariani had a home run and three RBI for the Hornets.
Pleasantville 7, Westlake 0: At Pleasantville Wednesday, Joe Chaisson pitched a complete game two-hitter with seven strikeouts. Gianni DeCosta had a hit and two RBI and Steven Sicignano went 3 for 3 with an RBI.
Rye Neck 23, Hamilton 4: At Hamilton Wednesday, Thomas Pipolo went 3 for 5 with four RBI and four runs scored. Jesse Sacks-Hoppenfeld went 2 for 3 with a double and four RBI. Matt Garcia pitched a complete game with six strikeouts.
Harrison 5, Rye 4: At Rye, Austin Pollack scored the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth inning on a single by Alex Beckett. Luke Sassano pitched a complete game. Ryan Popp went 2 for 3 with two RBI for the Garnets.
Nyack 7, Tappan Zee 0: At Nyack, Paul Giardina pitched a one-hitter with five strikeouts and four walks. Jesse Moses went 4 for 4 with two doubles and two RBI. Brendan O’Sullivan had a hit and two RBI. Liam Russell singled in the top of the second for the Dutchmen.
Haldane 14, Peekskill 0: At Peekskill, Justin Kaufmann went 2 for 3 with a grand slam and six RBI and two runs scored. Stephen Zalys went 2 for 3 with three RBI and Kenny Doxey went 2 for 3 with two RBI. Winning pitcher Ryan Koval allowed one hit with six strikeouts in four innings pitched.
Keio 4, Pleasantville 3: At Keio, Kento Suga pitched a complete game and struck out five. Yohei Fujimoto and Masatoshi each had a hit and an RBI. Nick Greto went 2 for 3 with an RBI for the Panthers.
Tuckahoe 15, Solomon Schechter 8: At Tuckahoe, Steve McCann went 2 for 3 with three RBI and two runs scored. Justin Cucino and Aaron Traeger each went 2 for 3 with two RBI. Jordan Shasha went 2 for 4 with two RBI for the Lions.
Fox Lane 6, Port Chester 1: At Fox Lane, Nick Tortorella went 2 for 2 with a double and an RBI. Ryan Bailey had a hit and an RBI. D.J. Sabato went 2 for 3 for the Foxes.
Suffern 11, East Ramapo 0: At Suffern, Billy Seymour and Brendan Ryan each went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and had two RBI. Dom Kulbaba pitched a three-hitter and struck out 13. Kulbaba went 2 for 4 including a double and an RBI.
Ardsley 8, Dobbs Ferry 0: At Dobbs Ferry, Adam Deangelo had a three-run home run. Alec Eisenberg pitched a four-hitter allowing four walks and struck out 11.
Hackley 8, Trinity 2: At Hackley Wednesday, David Dronzek went 2 for 2 with three RBI and a run scored. Winning pitcher Alex Pundyk struck out three.
Irvington 1, Gorton 0: At Gorton Wednesday, Gus Passov had an RBI ground out to score Konald Cupp. Passov also threw out the tying run at home plate in the bottom of the seventh. Winning pitcher Miles Semetis followed with his sixth strike out to seal the win.
Irvington 7, Gorton 4: At Irvington, Emily Poznanski went 2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Miasa Hernandez went 3 for 3 for Gorton. Sonya Fowler pitched a compete game and struck out three.
Beacon 5, Pearl River 3: At Pearl River, Tom Higgins and Jordan Mendelson each had a hit and an RBI. Kevin Considine pitched a complete game five-hitter and allowed one earned run.
Photos by Xavier Mascareñas / The Journal News