MIDDLETOWN POSTS WIN OVER HOMETOWN FAVORITES WHITESTOWN-5-2
Defending state champs will look to regroup and keep title defense alive at noon on Friday.
Whitestown Post 1113 and Middletown Post 151 squared off at Donovan Stadium at Murnane Field as the American Legion State Tournament continued on Thursday evening. It was a matchup of first game winners trying to stay in the coveted “winner’s bracket.”
Ryan Watson was on the mound for Whitestown Post and Middletown kicked off the game when shortstop Tommy Walruven reached on an error and right fielder Nolan Apfel doubled to score the first run of the game and take a 1-0 lead.
Frank Mayo then grounded out plating Apfel and Middletown jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Centerfielder Brian Guzman then singled and the inning ended as he struck out and the runner was gunned out stealing.
Middletown starting pitcher John Cain quickly shut down the Whitestown bats in the bottom half of the first after giving up a single to shortstop Mike Sullivan and a single to centerfielder Mike Bunal who hit it to the second baseman getting the force play at second base.
Cain was tough on Whitestown all game long as he registered 12 big strikeouts.
The inning was over after Brendan Heitz struck out and pitcher Ryan Watson popped out.
It was a quick inning of work for Whitestown starter Ryan Watson in the top of the second as he struck out first baseman Josh Walker and picked up a pop out and ground out from Steven Iannolo and Adrian Castillo.
In their half of the inning Whitestown quickly loaded the bases after first baseman Matt Engler singled and advanced to second on a bad throw to first and third baseman Dan Smith walked and right fielder Connor Passalacqua singled.
However, Middletown pitcher John Cain struck out the next three batters in Dylan Gorski, Adam Pexton and Mike Sullivan as Whitestown left the bags full.
In the top of the third Watson started the inning by forcing a pop out to second baseman Mike Hughes and then allowed a single and a stolen base to Tommy Walruven.
Apfel then grounded out but a wild pitch brought home a run and Middletown took a 3-0 lead.
Watson then walked Frank Mayo and hit Brian Guzman by a pitch but was able to get out of the inning after designated hitter Jimmy Patterson was out on a nice sliding catch by the right fielder.
It was another quick inning for Whitestown in the bottom of the third after Bunal popped out, Heitz singled and Watson hit into a double play to end the inning.
Adrian Castillo then reached on a single after right fielder Connor Passalacqua made a sliding catch but the ball dropped out of his glove.
Mike Hughes then popped up to center and the runner at third tagged up and came home but was gunned out by the centerfielder Mike Bunal on a perfect throw saving the run and ending the inning.
The bottom of the fourth led to much of the same for Whitestown as Matt Engler popped out, Dan Smith struck out and Passalacqua reached after a miscue by the pitcher and first baseman but Whitestown could not take advantage as Dylan Gorski struck out.
Ryan Watson got some defense from his teammates in the top of the fifth when Tommy Walruven hit a ball into foul territory down the left field line and the left fielder Brendan Heitz tracked it down sliding into the warning track then into the fencing for the first out of the inning.
Nolan Apfel then followed with a single up the middle and the Frank Mayo hit a shot over the head of the centerfielder who then picked it up a threw home as the runner attempted to score and was thrown out. The inning came to a close as Brian Guzman grounded out.
The bottom of the fifth was another quick one for Cain as he struck out Adam Pexton and Devin LeBuis grounded out while Mike Bunal reached on an error but Brendan Heitz stuck out to finish the inning.
Middletown struck again in the top of the sixth as Jimmy Patterson singled, Josh Walker laid down a sacrifice bunt and Steven Iannolo singled and scored a runner for a 4-0 lead.
The runner then advanced to second on a ball that was overthrown at first in an attempt to keep the runner close.
Adrian Castillo then picked up a single but the runner at second was called for interference when the ball hit him for out number two.
Mike Hughes then followed with a strikeout as the inning ended with Middletown holding a 4-0 lead.
Dan Smith then popped out, Connor Passalacqua grounded out and Dylan Gorski struck out and Whitestown came up empty handed.
Watson worked quickly in the top of the seventh as he faced three batters picking up a strikeout from Tommy Walruven the allowing Nolan Apfel to single and then forcing a double play from Frank Mayo to end the inning.
Cain grabbed two quick outs in the bottom half of the inning when Adam Pexton popped out to centerfield and Devin LeBuis struck out.
Mike Bunal then came to the plate and singled to left field. Brendan Heitz reached base after being hit by a pitch.
Mitch Choros then came on in relief with two outs and runners on first and second.
The reliever then walked the first batter he faced in Ryan Watson to load the bases as Post 1136 mounted a rally.
Choros then picked up the final out of the inning as Matt Engler popped out.
Watson returned to the mound for the start of the eighth and was able to work an efficient inning as he picked up a ground ball from Brian Guzman, allowed Jimmy Paterson to double to left field and then proceeded to strikeout Josh Walker and force Steven Iannolo to ground out.
Whitestown stepped up to the plate in the bottom half of the eighth looking to jump start the offense but started off with a quick two outs after Dan Smith struck out and Connor Passalacqua popped out. Dylan Gorski then came up and picked up a single followed by a walk to Adam Pexton and Whitestown was threatening once again.
Devin LeBuis then followed and smashed a run scoring double to cut the lead to 4-2 but the threat ended abruptly after Mike Bunal popped out to end the inning.
The top of the ninth saw the return of Ryan Watson on the mound for Whitestown and he started off the inning by hitting Adrian Castillo with a pitch and then picked up the first out off of Mike Hughes ground ball.
Tommy Walruven was up next and singled and the lead was extended to 5-2.
With a loss starring them in the face Whitestown Post took to the bottom of the ninth looking to battle back and the inning started out with Brendan Heitz picking up a single and Ryan Watson and Matt Engler securing walks.
With the bases loaded the Middletown Cobras made a pitching change bringing in Nolan Apfel who fanned the first batter he faced in Dan Smith.
Apfel then forced Connor Passalacqua to pop up and closed things out as Dylan Gorski ground out to the second baseman as the game ended.
The Cobras offense was led by Nolan Apfel who was 3 for 4 with a run scored, Tommy Walruven who was 2 for 5 with two runs scored and an RBI and Jimmy Patterson who also had a run scored in his 2 for 5 performance.
Whitestown was led by Brendan Heitz who went 2 for 4 and Connor Passalacqua who was 2 for 5.
Middletown starter John Cain pitched 6 2/3 innings recording ten strikeouts and two walks in the win and Nolan Apfel picked up the save.
FitzPatrick said of his pitchers performance, “I was very pleased…the kid is only 16.”
The coach was also pleased with his team’s offensive performance saying “We put our heads together and jumped on them quickly…we took advantage of their mistakes…we watched them last night and knew we couldn’t let them jump out ahead.”
With the win Middletown will play the winner of the Saratoga Stampede and Saugerties Post 72 matchup while Whitestown will face off against Braman Post 1229 Friday at noon as the defending state champs look to bounce back and keep hopes of a repeat alive.
If the season is to continue for Whitestown Post they need to get back on track with the bats as 14 men were left on base. Not normal numbers for this well balanced team.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
MP 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 5 12 2
WP 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 10 2