COOKE-KNIGHTS OUTDUEL-NAPOLI-RAIDERS AT DELUTIS- WIN 1-0
RFA celebrates in style as Dylan Thomas scores the game winning run for RFA.
Jeff Cooke goes the distance and yields just two hits to earn the win
Say what you will, the schedule makers sure got this one right. For some reason when you mix the Proctor Raiders with the RFA Black Knights (12-9) the scheduled sporting event turns into a duel to the death. Well maybe not that dramatic, but you get my drift.
Proctor fans were grumbling just a little bit louder as their Raiders headed home on the short side of a dramatic 1-0 loss to the Roman’s that ended their baseball season way too early for coach Dave Guido and his Raider nation.
Fans from both sides of this intense rivalry will see things their own way. Was he out? Was he safe? Oh, the drama in the home seventh.
Those questions will be discussed for a long time. We’ll let you weigh in and sort it out. RFA won’t have long to linger on this one as they look forward to a showdown with, defending champ, Liverpool ( 14-6) and the Class AA #2 seed, on Thursday.
The Raiders, on the other hand, must look to the off season way too early by their standards.
Proctor wraps up the season with a (7-11) record, snake eyes for them, and the Raiders were not happy about that prospect as they put away the gear away for the last time.
You knew it was a playoff atmosphere at DeLutis as both teams went about their business with a purpose and plenty of passion.
Two tougher than nails right handers were asked to deliver their respective teams to the next round of the Section III Class AA playoffs and both starters certainly were up to the task at hand.
RFA’s Jeff Cooke and Proctor’s Jon Napoli scratched, clawed and dug deep, to give their teams a chance to survive and advance.
When left fielder Tom Amuso took one for the team, in the bottom of the seventh inning, when he was hit by a Jon Napoli pitch, the diminutive one suddenly was lost in a pile of fellow Black Knights who first made sure Dylan Thomas stepped on home plate with the winning run, and then proceeded to celebrate in style as the Roman’s took part in one of the largest group hugs fans have seen in a while.
Thomas touched home with the games only run in the 1-0 thriller and it was agony on one side of DeLutis and ecstasy on the other.
Not much separated the stat lines of both starters, check this out. Cooke, the winner, went all 7 innings, gave up just two hits, walked just 2 and most importantly gave up no runs, to earn the victory.
His counterpart, Jon Napoli, had an equally impressive line, 6 and 2/3 innings, 6 k’s, just two hits and 1 walk and the one fateful earned run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Hard to see a loss in numbers like these.
Up and down the batters went in this fast paced affair. Jeff Cooke dispatched the Raiders, 1-2-3, in the top of the first, forcing lead off hitter Derrin Lilley to ground out to short, striking out A.J. Partipelo and inducing third basemen Jordan Treen to line out to right field.
Two quick ground outs by RFA’s Steve Eychner and Garrett Reilley were preceded by Napoli fanning his counterpart Jeff Cooke to end an equally quick first inning. Both starters set the tone early and it was easy to see that offense would be hard to come by.
Things looked promising for the Raiders, in the top of the 3rd, as Proctor designated hitter Rocco Grande ripped a hot shot up the middle, past a stretched out, diving, RFA short stop, Steven Eychner. Sorry folks, nothing doing, as Napoli struck out Garrett Reilley and then retired the next two batters.
Tom Amuso, our newest Rometown Hero, singled with one out to start a Rome rally in the home third. A short-lived rally as Napoli trotted off the mound having set aside the next two RFA batters.
The game and the seasons of both teams changed in the decisive seventh inning.
The seventh inning was one Raider fans would like to forget. It went like this.Mike Saporito led off the seventh inning with a slow rolling grounder to short stop and was called out at first base on a bang-bang play at first, and longtime Proctor head coach Dave Guido was ruled to stay in the dugout for an restriction call after arguing with the call.
The next batter, Nick Bruzzese, walks on four pitches, and Guido came out and brings in Nick Wilsey as a pinch runner, and the umpires ejected Guido for leaving the dugout after he was warned of his restriction, and the three argued back-and-forth out on the field.
I doubt Guido and this umpiring crew will be going out to dinner together anytime soon. Especially in East Utica. Then came the thrilling conclusion in the bottom of the frame.
Jon Napoli, who pitched inside all game long, pitched a little too close for comfort and hit RFA’s leadoff man Dylan Thomas, who has a habit of coming up big in big games, to start the winning rally.
Josh Mazzaferro walked to the plate with one thing in mind, moving Thomas to second base and into scoring position. After a couple of failed attempts, Mazzaferro did his job and Thomas ended up on second with the game winning run.
After an intentional walk to Rome’s Ryan Reilley, things got hairy. Conner Miller looking to end things, took a couple of good hacks and finally made contact.
Miller rolled one to short- stop Connor Roth, who then got stuck in no- mans land as Ryan Reilley took advantage of the fact that Napoli worked from a full-windup. The extra time allowed Ryan Reilley to break early for second.
With no force play in order, the Raiders still tried for two. The throw to first looked to be in time to nail the runner Miller, but Miller was called safe.
Roth’s relay throw came in low and according to the first base umpire, late. Looked out to me. Tough call though, a real bang, bang play. Don’t get on me, I graduated from RFA. Just calling it like I saw it, from the first base dugout area.
Napoli, as he did all game long, reached into his reserve tank and struck out Spencer Kahler, a tough out if there ever was one. Napoli was just a pitch away form sending this one into extras, as he was up on the count , 1-2, to Tom Amuso.
Unfortunately for the Radier nation, the next pitch was inside and hit Amuso who trotted toward first, as Dylan Thomas sped home to step on the plate with the game winning and season saving run.
Cooke, the winning pitcher, came up big in a big spot after having spent some time out of action because of a illness. His return and his outstanding mound performance will be appreciated by RFA fans for quite some time.
RFA 1 Proctor 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Proctor 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1
RFA 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 1