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Baseball Tops Port Jeff in Wild Comeback

May 2, 2018
Baseball 2018

Rueda in action earlier this season (PC: Gabby Germain)

Yesterday afternoon the baseball team improved to 9-6 on the season in a 16-12 win over Port Jeff that gave the Bears their first season sweep of the Royals since 1996. The win also moved the Brook within one victory of their first playoff berth since 1999.

The Bears came into the game needing two wins in their remaining six games to qualify for the postseason. Having beaten Port Jeff in their previous three match-ups this season, the Bears rightfully viewed yesterday’s match-up as a key opportunity to pick up a valuable win. However, things went sideways quickly as the Royals put up six runs in the top of the first inning as six of the first seven batters reached base. The Bears fought back in the bottom half of the inning as Seamus Scanlon and Aidan Mega each reached on infield singles. Joe Wozny followed with a single that plated Scanlon and pulled the blue and white within 1-6 with nobody out. Tim Wozny followed with what looked like the Bears fourth straight hit, but the Royals’ pitcher made an impressive stab on the line drive before doubling off the runner at first for a rally-quenching double play.

After a rough first inning on the mound, Scanlon bounced back with a scoreless second frame with two strikeouts and a pick-off that led to a rundown out at the plate. The Bears rewarded Scanlon’s grit with a four-run frame that all but erased the Royals’ huge first inning. David Choi led off with a double into the left-center field gap. Dan Rueda drew a one-out walk, but a strikeout followed as Port Jeff moved within an out of a scoreless inning. Scanlon ensured they would not get away so easily. The junior laced a 1-2 pitch to left-center that scored Choi and Rueda to bring the Brook within 3-6. Mega followed with a shallow flair to left that scored Scanlon. Mega promptly stole second, one of the Bears’ 15 swipes on the day, before a Joe Wozny single brought him around as the Brook inched to within 5-6.

Scanlon pitched his second straight scoreless frame, but the Bear bats failed to capitalize in the bottom half of the third as the game moved to the fourth. Though the Royals tacked on a run in the fourth to extend their lead to 7-5, the key play of the inning was an outstanding connection between Emman Ajewole, Choi, and Tim Wozny. The Royals led off with the deep ball to center field. Ajewole ran all the way to the wall and hit Choi with a relay throw. Choi turned and fired to Wozny at third who applied the tag, wiping out a runner that would have scored on a double by the next batter. The Bears responded with a five-run bottom half to take brief control of the game. Chris Swiatek instigated the rally with a stinger up the middle. Scanlon followed with a single and Mega walked to load the bases. Wozny followed with a line drive that the diving short stop nearly held onto, scoring Swiatek. 6-7. A 2-out error by the third baseman off the bat of Ajewole brought in Mega (7-7) and an infield single by Choi plated Joe Wozny as the Bears took their first lead, 8-7. The next two runs came in courtesy of Malik Ulysse, the 7-hitter, who drilled a ball to the second baseman, but hustled down the line to induce a hurried throw that kicked off the bag, allowing two more runs to come in as the Bears extended their advantage to 10-7.

The Royals responded with a five-run frame of their own as the game moved to the bottom of the fifth and Port Jeff ahead 12-10. Not to be outdone, the Bears rallied for five more runs of their own as a game of absurd momentum swings continued. Scanlon drew a 1-out walk. Mega followed with his hardest hit ball of the season, a screamer that cleared the left fielder and put runners at second and third for Joe Wozny. The big righty was intentionally walked in favor of his younger brother, Tim, a decision that had not worked out for Port Jeff in a previous match-up with the Bears on April 18th in which Tim smacked a single to give the Bears a 7-5 lead en rout to a 15-9 win. This time around, Tim made them pay again, drilling a 2-run single that knotted the game at 12-12. A single by Ajewole and a fielder’s choice from Choi brought in two more runs as the Bears pulled ahead, 14-12. An error on a pickoff attempt gifted another run as Ajewole scampered home with a 15-12 lead.

In a game that saw 28 runs, 29 hits and four frames of at least five runs, Dan Rueda earned the games pitching MVP honors. The junior righty came on in relief of the resilient Scanlon to nail down the victory with two outstanding innings of scoreless work. In the top of the sixth he worked around a 1-out error with a pop up and two ground outs, the second on a great pick up off the mound that he tossed to first. After the Brook added a 16th run in the bottom of the sixth thanks to Mega’s third hit, Rueda went back to work, striking out the lead off batter and inducing a ground out from the next before closing out the win with a fly ball to Ajewole in center.

The Bears currently trail Mercy by a game in the loss column for second place in League IX. The Bears will have a chance to clinch a postseason berth with victory over Pierson this afternoon.

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