Over the course of a half of an inning, Nyack went from a team that couldn’t put a single runner on to a team that looked just as good as any in Class A.
The story of the Indians’ 4-3 win over Pelham on Tuesday pretty much tells the story of their entire season to this point.
“We have great potential,” Nyack catcher Chuck Olsen said. “We have a collection of great athletes – great players – but sometimes we just don’t play to our potential. When we bear down and focus, I think we’re a really good team.”
Pelham starter Anthony Paterra hadn’t allowed a base runner to reach safely entering the fourth inning, but after Austin Cavazzi’s leadoff single, his perfect game snowballed quickly into a loss.
Nyack ended up scoring three runs in the inning to take a lead and cool down a Pelicans team which had won eight of nine to start the season.
“It was getting kind of late,” Cavazzi said. “We’re a team that doesn’t really do much in the beginning – at least in our past games – and I knew it was important that we got a base runner on in that inning. If I got on, I knew they could bring me in. I trust the guys behind me.”
• With Pelham having taken an early 2-0 lead in the first and Paterra cruising through three innings, Cavazzi got the Indians going with single up the middle for their first hit. That was followed by a beautifully placed bunt single from Ryan Howe, with the runners advancing to second and third on an error. Olsen came up next and laced a two-run single to center on a full count to tie the game. “He had me out in front a little bit, and then two fastballs I fouled off,” Olsen said. “I just said, ‘Shorten up on 3-2,’ and I put the bat right to the ball, made contact and drove it up the middle.”
• Jordan Mews added a sac fly later in the inning (Nyack pounded out five hits in the frame, but only ended up with three runs after Olsen got caught trying to stretch his single into a double) to give the Indians a 3-2 lead. And while Paterra was beginning to unravel after an excellent first few innings, Nyack starter Alex Knoebel (pictured to the right) found his groove. He got off to a rough start with Pelham scoring in the first on RBI singles from Rob Nanna and Anthony Manos, but he would only allow one more base runner in the next five innings. “The first round through the order is always the hardest because you’re just getting used to these guys and went don’t really play them too often,” Knoebel said. “I just kept my pitches down, kept the ball on the ground and did my job.”
• Knoebel was generating some ugly swing-and-misses with high heat and curveballs that he kept low. He struggled with command a bit in the first and looked like he could be in for a long day, but give the right-hander credit for bearing down and adjusting. “I thought he adjusted a lot better than we did,” Pelham coach Jack Plunkett said of Knoebel. “We come up in the first inning and we were aggressive. … After that, he spotted his curveball really well, he spotted his fastball and he started to elevate the ball and got us to swing at some bad pitches.”
• Knoebel’s final line was: 7 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 85 pitches (56 strikes, 29 balls). I asked him what was going through his head in the first few innings while Paterra was mowing his teammates down for Pelham. “That actually drove me to succeed even more,” he said. “I just wanted to shove it in their face and show them what I got.”
• The Indians added an insurance run in the fifth, which turned out to be crucial. Cavazzi’s single was booted in the outfield, which allowed Rob Blinn to score and make it 4-2. “If you look at our stats, we’ve made too many errors, and that’s one of the things that we did not expect coming in having a veteran infield,” Plunkett said of Pelham’s seconrd costly error of the game. “We didn’t think we would make as many errors as we have so far. We knew we would pitch, and we knew we would be in games, but I think we have to clean up some of the errors.”
• Knoebel hadn’t allowed a hit since the first inning when he came out for the seventh, but the Pelicans showed some fight. Gjon Ljucovic and Joe Bitetto led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and then moved over on Mike Murray’s sac bunt. Victor Torres was up next, and he jumped on the first pitch that he saw and hit it deep to center. I’ve seen some high school fields where that ball might have went out, but Howe did a great job of running it down. I thought it had a chance of getting over his head, but the Nyack center fielder caught it to hold Pelham to a sac fly and maintain a one-run lead. “No, because I saw that kid run during warm-ups,” Plunkett said when I asked if he thought it would get past Howe for extra bases. “I thought that maybe it had a chance, but we talked before the inning about not taking any undue risks… We’re going to tag up because it’s so deep.”
• With the tying run on third, Knoebel got the next batter to ground out to short to end the game. “I just kept my composure and continued to do what I did the whole game,” he said. “I wasn’t taking no for answer about coming out here for the seventh inning.”
• Knoebel’s bounce back performance overshadows what was mostly an encouraging outing from Paterra (pictured to the left). He was very effective through the first three innings, pitching to contact and keeping Nyack off balance. His final line was: 5 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 2 K, 61 pitches (46 strikes, 15 balls). “I said to the team, ‘He’s a completely different pitcher from the first time that we started throwing after the holiday break until now,’ ” Plunkett said. “He’s a kid who has really made incredible adjustments. He’s worked really hard, and he’s developed a curveball… It’s a testament to him and his attention to detail.”
• Pelham has two of the top pitchers in Class A in Ljucovic and David Wright, but Wright is currently out with an injury to his non-pitching arm. He’s expected to be back on the mound soon, but Paterra made his case to fill the No. 3 role in his first varsity start. “We’re trying to figure that out right now, but he definitely made a step forward to be that today,” Plunkett said. “I was really impressed. My confidence in him has really gone up.”
• Plunkett said that Paterra is used to pitching in relief, which probably explains why he tired a bit in the fourth. Here’s what Plunkett said he saw: “I noticed his velocity started to dwindle a little bit, and one of the things with Anthony is his stride leg has the tendency to kind of swing it open. When the lower half starts to swing like that, then his upper half opens up a little too early, and that’s really his cue. But I think also he was getting a little tired. That’s the most he’s thrown this year.”
• Greg Sigelbaum came on in relief and impressed, allowing no hits and striking out three in two scoreless innings. Arms seem to be plentiful for Pelham—it’s a matter of swinging the bats and playing sound defense. “This is all new,” Plunkett said. “This was Greg’s third appearance. He was throwing with us and his arm was bothering him, so we kind of shut him down. Now, he said his arm feels better.”
• Nyack improves to 5-5, while Pelham drops to 8-2. The Pelicans still have one of the best records in a wide open Class A field, while the Indians continue to search for consistency. We’ve certainly seen glimpses; most notably today’s win and a win over defending section champ Harrison. “I think that we can hang with the best of them, we just haven’t put it up this year,” Cavazzi said. “A lot of our problem is that we don’t get it started early enough in the game – we’re waiting until the last innings, when it’s kind of hard.”
• 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 scores that we’ve received so far:
Riverdale 7, Hackley 3: At Hackley Monday, Ryan Walker had two hits for the Hornets.
Riverside 12, Yonkers Montessori 9: At Yonkers Montessori Monday, Jamie Porter and Tyler Acevedo doubled for Yonkers Montessori. Brandon Morgan had three RBI and Anthony Gianfrancesco added two RBI.
Tappan Zee 2, Harrison 1: At Harrison, Jeremy Dobbs had a triple, a run and an RBI. Winning pitcher Eric Casey had an RBI and allowed six hits in a complete game effort with three strikeouts. Vinny Nicita had an RBI for the Huskies.
Rye Neck 11, Rye 6: At Rye, Matt Franks had a three-run double. Chriss Pennell was 3 for 4 with two RBI and two runs. Thomas Pipolo had a two-run double. Connor Murphy and Mike O’Neill both had an RBI for the Garnets.
Brewster 6, Yorktown 5: At Yorktown, Matt Ghelarducci had a run scored, two doubles and three RBI. Teammate Garrett Longhurst added a run and two RBI singles. Zach Bocian had three RBI for the Huskers.
Hen Hud 8, Peekskill 2: At Hen Hud, Hunter Glasoff allowed two runs and five hits and struck out 12 in six innings. Nick Sampogna went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and Peter Pinque had a double, a triple, an RBI and two runs scored. Losing pitcher Richie Simmons and Anthony Murphy had two hits apiece.
Pleasantville 4, Blind Brook 3: At Blind Brook, Nick Greto drove in Anthony Godino for the eventual winning run. Godino, Chris Leonard and Steven Sicignano all had an RBI. Joey Dibiordirmo had two RBI for the Trojans.
Carmel 6, Kennedy 2: At Carmel, Matt Valentinetti had three hits and three RBI. Steve Collins added an RBI double. Mike Bello allowed the two runs and five hits over five innings. Joe Drpich had an RBI double for Kennedy.
Ossining 5, Horace Greeley 3, 9: At Horace Greeley, in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at 3-3, Greg Lamb (2 for 4, 3 RBI) drove in Sean Trenholm on a base hit with the go-ahead run and an error by left fielder Bryan Hammerschlag allowed Kevin Haag to score the insurance run for the Pride. Austin Bates had an RBI. Adam Quine went 3 for 5 with two doubles and an RBI for the Quakers.
Westlake 5, Port Chester 4, 8: At Westlake, Michael Sanchez went 3 for 4 with a double and two runs scored. Anthony Rotunno added two RBI and Brendan Duane pitched seven innings while striking out six. William Murphy had two RBI for the Rams.
Stepinac 5, Spellman 4: At Spellman, Chris Rooney had two hits and two RBI for the Crusaders. Sal Cappiello added a hit and an RBI.
North Salem 6, Arlington B 3: At Arlington B, Phil Capra was 2 for 4 with two RBI. Reilly Cotter and Kevin Zajc each had two hits and an RBI.
Irvington 7, Edgemont 4: At Edgemont, Rafelin Brito had two RBI for the Bulldogs, who scored six runs in the final two innings. Gus Passov struck out five and allowed two earned runs in the complete game win. Nick Petrilli went 2 for 4 with a run for the Panthers.
Poughkeepsie 3, Putnam Valley 1: At Poughkeepsie, Ryan Yetter went 1 for 3 with an RBI. Ryan Basso struck out five and allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings.
John Jay-EF 7, Lakeland 0
Arlington 3, Somers 2
Fordham Prep 3, Iona Prep 1
Ketcham 3, Panas 2
Photos by Matthew Brown/The Journal News