In a game filled with twists, turns, ups, downs, ins and outs only one play truly made the difference in John Jay-East Fishkill’s 9-8 nine-inning victory over Beacon. It was the assist of all assists from centerfielder Mike Luzzi in the bottom of the seventh inning to cut down the winning run at the plate.
It’s already being dubbed “The Throw” on social media.
“I knew for a fact that he was going to try and score (from first base) so when I got the ball I looked up and saw him round third and threw it up hail mary hoping it would get to the catcher,” Luzzi said. “I was probably fifty feet away from the wall, it was just amazing that the ball got there.”
With temperatures in the thirties and a game time of more than four hours, the future stories of the unforgettable battle are surely to be exaggerated. One day, the story will be told that the game was played in a snowstorm and it lasted eight hours. None of those embellishments will be needed, however. The truth is epic enough.
After leading 4-1 in the fourth inning, the Patriots trailed 8-4 heading into the seventh inning. With few long term implications and the frigid air, it could’ve been easy to throw in the towel for most teams, but John Jay battled. Joe Costa and Luzzi drew back-to-back walks and eventually scored on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Tommy Vetrano struck out but reached on a fielder’s indifference. Then Mike Laffin walked. Finally with two on, two out and trailing 8-6 in the seventh, George Howell came up with the big hit. Howell ripped a line drive over the first baseman’s head scoring both runs to tie the game and force extra innings.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” Howell said. “It was unbelievable, I didn’t want this game to end because it was the best game I’ve ever played in.”
Finally, in the ninth inning, John Jay struck again to take the lead for good. Jordan Urban (2-for-4, 2 BB, 2 runs) and Tyler Kardas (2-for-3, RBI) both singled and Howell walked. With one out, Doug Elser lifted a fly ball to centerfield to knock in the go-ahead run before the Patriots sealed it in the bottom of the ninth.
“This was such a crazy game, you don’t even realize what time it is out here, you look up in the stands and see everyone’s breath, it was an amazing feeling to be a part of this,” Lisella said. “This is a big momentum shifter for us, hopefully we can carry this over to our next game.”
Matt Lisella took the mound in the eighth inning, induced a big double play, and then secured the victory in the ninth inning. After giving up a leadoff hit, a sacrifice bunt, and a strikeout, Beacon’s Nick Golembiewski (3-for-5, 3B, RBI) kept the Bulldogs’ hopes alive with a single. With runners on first and third, Lisella went right at Ryan Frost (3-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 runs). Frost fought off nine straight strikes and faced 12 total pitches before finally popping out in foul territory on the 14th pitch of the at-bat to end the game.
“It was such a gritty at-bat, it really came down to who had more in the tank,” Lisella said of his battle with Frost. “I had arm problems this week but I really wanted to give us a chance to win and it was the best game I’ve ever been a part of.”
Beacon took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with a rally from the bottom of the order. Will Coris singled and Golembiewski knocked him in to tie the game with a triple. Frost gave the Bulldogs the lead with a single and Patrick Schetter tripled in another run. Tony Romanelli hit a sacrifice fly, and Sami Dika hit an RBI-double to give Beacon the 8-4 lead heading to the seventh.
“They did this to us last year and hit the ball. We always have a good game against them,” Luzzi said. “They’re probably the best competition will play all year, it was a great game.”
Email John Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGV_Malone