Mamaroneck wasn’t shy about how much stock it was putting into Thursday’s game against Fox Lane. “Biggest game of the season” was thrown around by a few players, and they handled the pressure well.
The Tigers have taken some heat after losing a couple of head scratchers early in the season, but today’s 5-4 win served as a statement that this team should not be taken lightly.
“We came out fired up for this game. We knew we had to win it,” senior shortstop Mat Marino said. “This is a test no matter when you play them because they’re one of the top teams in the section.”
It was no secret that Mamaroneck would need a big-time pitching performance to keep the Foxes’ vaunted offense at bay, and Will Hofmann gave the Tigers just that. He pitched a gutsy complete game and got up to 124 pitches, showing just how badly Mamo wanted this game.
“First of all, we lost against Ardsley and we lost against Kennedy the other day, so we really needed to win,” the senior right-hander said. “I know these guys hit fastballs – I read about them all of the time. In the beginning, they were hitting the fastballs, but once I started hitting my spots and working it, I think they put it on the ground more.”
• While Hofmann (pictured to the right) acknowledged that this will likely be the toughest lineup he faces all season, he was not intimidated by it. He only allowed one earned run despite the Tigers making four errors behind him, and he did an excellent job of limiting the damage. His final line looks like this: 7 IP, 4 R, 1 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 124 pitches (77 strikes, 47 balls). “It’s different,” he said of facing this lineup. “We definitely tried to work the three and four hitters, (Matt) Oniffrey and (Richard) Slenker, with changeups and curveballs. But every single at-bat was a different story. Their eight-hitter (Mark Shkrelja) hit two fastballs in the gap. They’re unbelievable, but whatever pitch is working on that hitter, that’s what you do.”
• The two teams traded runs in the second, with Conner Bingham’s RBI single giving Mamaroneck a 1-0 lead in the top half of the inning, and then Shkrelja’s run-scoring double tying it up in the bottom half. The big blow came in the third, when Marino crushed a two-run homer over the left field wall to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead. “I hit it, and when I looked up, I didn’t know where it went,” Marino said. “I was just running hard out of the box and I saw Matt Mohr jogging, so I was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to jog, too.’ I knew I hit it well, but I didn’t know how well the ball would carry today.”
• Mamaroneck added two more runs in the fourth on a two-out, two-run triple from Matt Mohr to go up 5-1, which chased Fox Lane starter Matt Oniffrey (pictured to the left) from the game. Oniffrey started off well and looks like he has the stuff to be a big contributor for the Foxes on the mound this season, but he hasn’t pitched many innings at the varsity level. The Maryland-bound lefty is getting back into pitching after years of concentrating on first base. His final line was: 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 69 pitches (39 strikes, 30 balls). “In the first, he threw all strikes,” Fox Lane coach Matt Hillis said. “He worked ahead of the hitters, and then that wasn’t the case anymore. When something like that happens, then a little red flag pops up with us and we’re wondering why it was. We were looking out, and he just kept flying open, so we had to get him out of there.”
• The Tigers had a chance to do even more damage in that fourth inning, but Mohr got caught trying to steal home. Mamaroneck coach Mike Chiapparelli always has some tricks up his sleeve, and he saw an opportunity to pile on and give Hofmann more breathing room. “It was a straight steal of home,” Chap said. “Unfortunately on the play, we thought he was going to throw the curveball, but (relief pitcher Andrew Workman) did a really good job. He saw it coming and sped up his windup. He goes with his regular windup, and we’re in. I was trying to put a dagger in.”
• Chap also spoke about how it important it was for his team to take the lead early. “We wanted to get a lead on them and make them play from behind,” he said. “That’s what we told the kids: ‘If they get a lead on us, they’re going to be hard to beat here. If they’re playing from behind, it puts a little more pressure on them.’ ”
• While the Tigers were swinging the bats well early, Workman did an excellent job of keeping them stuck on five runs for the rest of the game. The right-hander is only a sophomore, but he finished the game by getting through the final 3 1/3 innings on just 32 pitches. He didn’t strike anyone out, but most importantly, he didn’t walk anyone. His performance definitely caught Hillis’ attention. “It won’t go overlooked by me, that’s for sure,” Hillis said. “He did a real nice job for us.”
• Workman gave the Foxes a chance to comeback, and for awhile, it looked as though they just might. Mark Shkrelja (pictured to the right) came up with his second RBI double of the game (driving in his brother Anthony Shkrelja for the second time) in the bottom of the fourth, and then Fox Lane tacked on two more in the fifth on an error and a bases loaded balk. The Foxes looked like they might tie or take the lead with one out and runners on second and third, but Hofmann shut it down by inducing two consecutive pop ups. “I just wish we swung at better pitches,” Hillis said. “We didn’t have the exact same approach which we had all day. The line drive, hard ground ball swing was there consistently for most of the game, but in that particular situation with the runners in scoring position, we didn’t exactly put the good swings on it.”
• I was a little surprised to see Hofmann come out to pitch the seventh with his pitch count already at 108, but then again, it was clear that Mamaroneck really wanted this game. “My adrenaline was definitely pumping,” Hofmann said. “To be honest, this is my biggest game of the year, and I was definitely finishing it. I had to.”
• While the Foxes only put up four runs, both coaches acknowledged that they had some very hard hit outs (sounds kind of like something Joe Girardi would say). Fox Lane finished with eight hits and Hillis sounded generally pleased with how the team swung the bats. “We were a slight victim of the atom ball today,” he said. “We put some real good swings on it, so I’m happy with the way with swung it… Overall, (Hofmann) did a good job early with his breaking ball. We were chasing it in the dirt and it was good enough to get us out. He struck a couple of guys out in some key situations, and he did a real nice job.”
• Marino had the big hit for the Tigers with his third inning homer, but an unsung hero was Bingham (pictured to the left). He was hitting seventh and went 3 for 3 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. “He played really well,” Chiapparelli said. “He hadn’t been hitting, either, but we made a little change, and it worked great. I told him, ‘You’re the man,’ and so he had confidence going in, and now he has more.”
• This was a really fun game to watch, with both teams playing some crisp, clean baseball. Both teams are extremely well coached and talented, which is what makes a game like this so entertaining. The Foxes are a team that many (myself included) considered the favorite in Class AA coming into the season, but it wouldn’t be wise to dismiss this Mamaroneck team just because of a few early losses. “They’re a fine team,” Chiapparelli said of Fox Lane. “Their outs were hit hard and they play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Both teams do; it’s two really good programs.”
• To see the play-by-play action and full box score, click here to see how I scored the game on iScore.
Here are the rest of the results that we’ve received tonight:
Yonkers 13, Lincoln 3: In the City of Yonkers Public School Tournament Wednesday, Ray Schmahl had a home run and four RBI. Winning pitcher Erison Rodriguez also had a home run, three RBI and two runs. Brandon Toro had an RBI for Lincoln. Yonkers will play Riverside in the finals Saturday at 1 p.m.
Nyack 7, Harrison 6, 5: At Harrison Wednesday, Rob Visconti had two RBI for the Indians. Winning pitcher Mike Espeso struck out seven in five innings in the rain-shortened game. Vinny Nicita and Jake Zuckerman each had two RBI for the Huskies.
Suffern 4, Clarkstown North 4: At Suffern Wednesday, Suffern’s John Alvarez was facing an 0-1 count when the game was called due to lightning in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs. The Mounties’ Gabe Cohen went 2 for 3 with a triple, homer and two RBI. Jake Salesky had the Rams’ only RBI.
Roosevelt 4, Gorton 3: At Gorton, Jonathan Alcala threw out the tying runner at the plate from center field in the bottom of the seventh and added three hits. Winning pitcher DJ Smith pitched a complete game with 11 strikeouts and had a hit.
White Plains 11, Bronxville 1: At Bronxville Wednesday, winning pitcher Lukas Repetti gave up one hit and struck out four in 5 2/3 innngs. Juan Payero had three runs, two RBI and a double. Chris Medeot had two runs and two RBI. Mike Lotito had three RBI.
Solomon Schechter 15, Hamilton 4: At Solomon Schechter Wednesday, Ari Leffell had a home run, three runs, three RBI and two doubles. Noah Goldberg had three runs and two RBI. Josh Becker had three runs, an RBI and a triple. Juriko Then had two runs for Hamilton.
Woodlands 6, Dobbs Ferry 3: At Woodlands, Bryan Rosado struck out four and did not allow an earned run in six innings for the win. Ray Pujols and Eulises Iglesias each went 2 for 3 with an RBI for the Falcons. Matt Bohl went 2 for 3 for the Eagles.
Christian Heritage 14, Harvey 12: At Harvey Wednesday, Corey Eisenbrand and Jackson Roberts had two hits and three RBI apiece for Harvey. Curtis Rattner had four hits and scored two runs.
Ossining 3, Rye 2: At Rye, Austin Bates singled-home Jared Kerper on a 2-2 count in the top of the seventh for the game-winning run. Sean Trenholm struck out five in the complete game win. Greg Hale went 2 for 3 with an RBI for the Pride.
Croton-Harmon 7, Blind Brook 6: At Croton-Harmon, Brandon Glover hit a walk-off double to right field to score Beau Dorien. The Trojans scored two runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game via a sacrifice fly from Eric Handelman and an error in left field by the Tigers. Croton-Harmon walked the Nos. 4 and 5 batters Izaak Cohen and Chris Dreier to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh with one out. Cohen went 2 for 3 with a double, triple, and three RBI. Dreier went 2 for 3 with two RBI. Handelman went 3 for 3 with three RBI for the Trojans.
Haldane 9, Arlington B 2: At Haldane, Steven Zalys had two hits and four RBI. Matt Forlow added two hits and two RBI.
Arlington 3, John Jay 2: At John Jay, the Admirals scored a run each in the fifth and sixth innings after the Indians led for most of the way. Anthony Patti went 2 for 2 with a walk and an RBI. Sam Mines struck out five and allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings.
Pleasantville 7, Greeley 2: At Greeley, Chris Leonard threw a complete game, allowing one earned run and six hits while striking out five. Leonard also had two RBI. Teammate Steven Sicignano reached base all five times and had an RBI. Byran Hamerschlag went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a stolen base for the Quakers.
Harrison 7, Rye Neck 2
Kennedy 3, Mahopac 3
Photos by Frank Becerra, Jr./The Journal News