Through the first four weeks of the season, not much had been going according to plan for Somers. The Tuskers were considered to be one of the top teams in Class A (I even labeled them as the favorites in the preseason), but they certainly weren’t playing like a team that could compete for a title.
But with Thursday’s convincing 8-1 win over Kennedy, Somers finally showed what it’s capable of.
“This win was big,” senior Adam Jacobs said. “We started off 2-6 and the season hasn’t gone quite the way that we expected it to go, but you know, hard work pays off. We practice hard, we’re resilient and I think more wins are to come.”
The Tuskers’ bats broke out in a big way, pounding out six extra base hits and 13 total. Couple the offensive outburst with a two-hit, seven strikeout outing from RHP Spencer Ballot, and you end up with an extremely well-rounded performance.
“It was huge,” Somers coach Joe Wootten said. “To beat a team like Kennedy, for the bats to wake up a little bit, for Spencer to have a good game, for us to fire on all cylinders for one time this year was nice to see. It was a big game.”
• The Tuskers jumped on Kennedy starter Matt Kern right away. Joe Festo walked and stole second, and then Jacobs blasted a double off of the top of the center field wall two batters later to drive him in. The ball nearly got out, but it was hit on a line. To be sure, Jacobs wasn’t done yet. “The pitch was high and I got a good swing on it,” he said. “Fastball first pitch, and that’s what happened.”
• Kern hit a sac fly in the top of the second to tie the game at 1-1, but that would be the end of the scoring for the Gaels. Meanwhile, Somers was just getting started. Festo’s RBI single in the bottom half of the inning gave the Tuskers a 2-1 lead, and then Jacobs was at it again in the third. After Joe Scambia walked and stole second, Jacobs (pictured to the right) hit an opposite field shot over the right field fence to extend the lead to 4-1 and chase Kern from the game. “I gave a little bat flip at the end,” Jacobs said. “I knew it right away.”
• Somers ended up scoring five runs in the third to break the game open. Stephen Danko added an RBI double to extend the inning to 5-1, which was followed by a ground out for the second out of the inning. The Tuskers continued to swing the bats with two outs, with Dom Mignoli’s double driving in Danko and then Festo’s single bringing home Mignoli. Just like that, it was 7-1 Somers. “We’ve been getting behind in counts too often and giving up too many walks,” Kennedy coach Bob Fletcher said. “When we pitch behind, and they have a 2-0 count or a 2-1 count, that’s a hitter’s count. They were getting too many of them, and they attacked the ball very well. They hit the ball very well. Even when Brian (Kelly) came in and threw strikes, they attacked the ball. They’ve a very good club. I was very impressed.”
• Jacobs drove in another run in the fourth inning on a single for his third hit of the game and fourth RBI. He wasn’t a guy that I heard much about heading into the season, but Wootten said he’s been swinging the bat very well, which helped him earn his way into the cleanup spot. Everything he hit today was hit hard. “Right now, the ball seems really big,” Jacobs said. “We’ve struggled a little bit offensively and I’ve stepped into the (cleanup) role. I’m just doing my best.”
• While Jacobs was the offensive standout, Ballot pitched a gem. The Gaels have a potent lineup, but he held them to just two hits and one run in six innings. He was throwing strikes early and did a nice job of pounding all three of his pitches in the zone to keep the hitters guessing. The breaking ball was especially sharp. “Getting ahead of kids definitely sets up everything, and attack them after you get ahead,” he said. “Using my offspeed really helped out, but that’s the type of pitcher I am. I just have to get ahead.”
• Ballot’s final line was: 6 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 92 pitches (54 strikes, 38 balls). Needless to say, Wootten was impressed. “When a kid can throw three pitches for strikes at any time in the count, you’ve got yourself a good high school pitcher out there, and that’s exactly what Spencer is,” he said.
• It made sense not to send Ballot (pictured to the left) back out for the seventh considering that Somers had a seven-run lead, but he seemed to be getting stronger as the game went on. The last two outs that he recorded in the sixth came via strikeout. “I’ve always gotten stronger because I use my legs a little more,” Ballot said. “That definitely helps the velocity go up and the movement goes up, as well.”
• Ballot has been throwing extremely well for the Tuskers, which gives them an excellent one-two punch with Albany-bound senior JT Genovese. I still believe that this team has the goods to make a run in Class A, and according to Ballot, Jacobs gives them a third quality option on the mound. “The other day against Arlington, Adam pitched a great game.,” he said. “We’re really proud of him, and he’s going to step into that third role, I think. Top to bottom in the pitching rotation, I think that we’re going to be really dangerous moving forward.”
• While Ballot pitched a great game, Kern was not particularly sharp. He threw really well when I saw him against Beacon, but he didn’t even record an out in the third inning today. Command was the main issue, which usually isn’t the case with the senior right-hander. Out of his 59 pitches, 30 were out of the strike zone. “He was a little off today,” Fletcher said. “This is the first year that he’s actually started, and he’s really been my closer. I think looking at it, we’re toying with the idea of him going back as a closer and having another junior come up to start – maybe (Dennis) Berarde or Kelly. We’re not sure yet, but Matt has been our closer for three years and done an outstanding job, so this is new to him. He’s trying to get acclimated to it.”
• I confirmed some very unfortunate news for the Gaels while I was at the game. Freshman 3B Alex Volpi had gotten off to a nice start and is a very promising player, but he suffered a broken leg against John Jay last week. He was obviously out of the lineup, as was LF John Brabazon. “He broke his leg, and the operation is actually ongoing,” Fletcher said. “Brabazon was in the emergency room today. He was being checked for meningitis, but he doesn’t have it. He’s got a very bad virus. We miss those guys, but that’s not an excuse. When you score eight runs off of us, you’ve done a great job.”
• I’ll give the final word to Wootten, who hopes that his team can put together more performances like this with more consistency. If so, watch out. “That’s the deal. We have to be consistent with this. We showed a little bit at Yorktown, we showed a little bit at Beacon, we showed a little bit here today – we just can’t take two steps back. We just have to keep moving forward.”
• 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 so far tonight:
Ardsley 2, Pelham 1: At Pelham, Gabe Kardish and Rich McElligot each had one RBI. Dylan Resk had a triple. Eric Scaperrotta got the win. Matt Mutti had an RBI for Pelham.
Briarcliff 10, Croton-Harmon 6: At Briarcliff Wednesday, Jake Hertz went 2 for 3 with four RBI. Spencer Kulman went 3 for 4 with an RBI and struck out 11 in six innings for the win. Rob Contento went 2 for 2 with three runs and an RBI for the Tigers. Adam Shankatj went 2 for 2 with two runs for the Bears.
Pearl River 8, Nyack 3: At Pearl River, winning pitcher John Doherty had two doubles and four RBI. Chris Beers, Chris Flood, Rich Masley and Shane Ocasal each had one RBI. David Juechter had a double and two RBI for Nyack.
Arlington 3, Yorktown 1: At Arlington, Ricky Corrado had a double and an RBI for the Huskers.
Albertus Magnus 5, Nanuet 0: At Albertus Magnus, Owen Lorenz struck out six in the four-hit shutout.
Harrison 12, Rye 5: At Rye, the Huskies scored 11 of their 12 runs in the top of the seventh. Austin Pollack had a triple and two RBI. Joey Lagani and Jake Zuckerman each had two RBI. JD Barnett got the win. Greg Hale had a double and three RBI and teammate Brendan Tripodi had two doubles for the Garnets.
Keio 5, Valhalla 2: At Keio, Takumi Yokoyama drove in two runs and Kenta Nishiyama doubled and drove in one for the Unicorns. Chris Strnad had an RBI for the Vikings.
Briarcliff 2, Croton-Harmon 1: At Briarcliff, Mike King threw a five-hitter and struck out seven. Spencer Kulman and Ryan Huegel had consecutive RBI singles in the third. Mike Hyrcko drove in the only run for Croton, which hit into a double play to end the game.
Putnam Valley 8, Haldane 4: At Putnam Valley, Frankie Brescia had a double and three RBI and Kyle Kuttruf and John Meagle combined for three innings of scoreless relief. Drew Ford went 3 for 4 and Joe Marigliano threw five innings of one-hit ball in relief for Haldane.
Byram Hills 12, Horace Greeley 8: At Horace Greeley, Kellen Hatheway went 4 for 4 with a double, homer, three runs, and five RBI for the Bobcats. Justin Ellick went 2 for 4 with two RBI for the Quakers.
Beacon 16, Brewster 6: At Brewster, Garrett Longhurst drove in two runs and Jason Marano had two doubles for the Bears.
Pleasantville 7, Westlake 6: At Pleasantville, James Leyden hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded to cap a five-run rally in the bottom of the seventh. Steve Sicignano went 2 for 4 with three RBI. Michael Dragonetti had two RBI for the Wildcats.
Carmel 3, Lakeland 2: At Lakeland, Joe Muccio allowed two earned runs in the complete game win. Andrew Martinez had three hits and two RBI for the Hornets.
Photos by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News (click here to see the full gallery)