Apr 30, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
John Rooney needed just eight pitches, well out of the strike zone, to put the Bishop Ludden baseball team’s undefeated season in jeopardy.
But he needed just one mighty swing to redeem himself.
Rooney’s towering three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Gaelic Knights a dramatic 7-6 victory over Skaneateles Wednesday afternoon in a game that had enough excitement and intrigue to last a full season.
Entering the top of the seventh inning, Ludden led 4-2, with Rooney on the mound in relief of Matt Pirro after the sophomore gave Ludden six solid innings of work.
All Rooney could do, though, was walk Jared Amory and Jake Carvalho, not throwing a strike to either of them. Instantly, head coach Ted Klamm replaced Rooney with Matt Weeks, but the damage had been rendered.
Owen Stokes-Cawley reached on an infield hit to load the bases, and Zach Augustine cleared them with a double to the right-field wall, scoring three runs as Skaneateles seized a 5-4 lead. Moments later, Nick Pesarchick singled Augustine home.
So as the bottom of the seventh began, Ludden trailed, 6-4, and looked to be in more trouble when Pesarchick forced Ryan O’Kane into a groundout.
But when no. 9 hitter Aaron Maher singled and James Murray walked to put the tying runs on base, Rooney stepped up. To this point, he had grounded out, walked and flied out, his gaudy batting average dipping from close to the .500 mark.
Now, though, Rooney had a chance to make it all better — and on the first pitch he saw, Rooney crushed it well over the left-field fence. Just like that, Ludden had its 12th consecutive victory, and the Gaelic Knights’ players mobbed Rooney at home plate as the stunned Lakers walked off the field.
Prior to that seventh inning, Rooney was just a bit player as his Ludden teammates appeared to assert its will over the tough and resilient lakers.
Augustine’s RBI double gave Skaneateles a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Pirro countered with a solo home run in the bottom of the second.
Then Ludden’s aggressive base-running became a featured attraction. Just after Pirro’s round-tripper, Weeks walked, stole second, then used his big leads off that base to force a bad pick-off throw Pesarchick that allowed Weeks to score.
An inning later, Skaneateles centerfielder Jake Carvalho robbed James Murray, saving a home run by reaching over the center-field fence to make a spectacular catch.
Still, Ludden made it 3-1 in the fourth inning with more aggression on the bas path. After Dan Fadden singled, he went to second on a wild pitch, stole third, then made a straight steal of home.
Thanks to Murray’s RBI single in the fifth, Ludden carried a 4-1 lead to the sixth inning. Pirro then surrendered a solo home run by Pesarchick, making it 4-2, which only served as a prelude to the wild seventh inning that followed.
In the lead-up to Skaneateles, the Gaelic Knights’ offense continued to sparkle, making a crucial difference last Monday at Homer as Ludden beat the Trojans 14-8 for its 11th straight win.
Once ahead 5-0, Ludden gave up the edge when pitcher James Murray allowed six runs in the bottom of the fourth.
And though the Gaelic Knights moved back in front, 8-7, in the fifth inning, it remained close until the top of the seventh, when a six-run outburst gave Ludden its eventual winning margin.
Pirro put on quite a show at the plate, smacking a home run and double and setting a career high with six RBIs. Rooney also went deep, finishing with two RBIs as Murray, Chris Davis and Fadden drove in one run apiece.
This followed, by one day, a 17-4 romp over Bishop Grimes where Murray took over. Ludden got five runs in the second inning to take charge. Then, with a 7-2 edge, the Gaelic Knights issued seven runs in the top of the fourth, just to be sure.
Every time he came to the plate, Murray brought home runs, not stopping until he had seven RBIs, a new career mark. Rooney, Davis, Weeks, O’Kane, Dan Paris and Chris Ganley also drove in runs. Corey Hunter pitched the whole way and got the win.
All this is leading to two big showdowns next week between Ludden and Westhill – the first match on Sunday, the rematch on May 7.
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