CATSKILL — Bobby Krogh’s Orioles defeated the Mudcats in a tough battle 7-4, on Thursday and are moving on to the Hudson River Collegiate Baseball League finals this weekend against the reigning champion Storm.
Despite a late home run that tied the game for the Mudcats in the sixth, the Orioles put together just enough offense in the bottom half of the inning to plate three runs and close the door.
Luke Pusz was a workhorse for the Orioles Thursday night, pitching into the sixth inning and keeping it tight the best he could. Krogh turned the ball over to Ryan Packard to finish the game, net the win and clinch the spot in the championship.
Pusz gave up a leadoff single to Mudcats’ center fielder Nicholas Lepere on the first pitch of the game, but after striking out Michael Goretti, Pusz picked Lepere off of first to exact his revenge. Michael Rose flew out to end the inning and the Orioles got ready to hit in the bottom of the first.
On the mound for the Mudcats was Ryan Nista, and the Orioles were threatening early when Ryan Seales smoked a one out double, and advanced to third on a wild pitch two batters later. But Nista induced a flyout by Jacob Hutton for the third out to erase the runner and get out of the inning.
After getting the first out in the top of the second thanks to an Evan Fox pop out, Pusz walked Ari Lonstein. But Jason Kavanaugh flew out to center and Brian Rapillo struck out looking to end the inning and the scoreless tie remained.
In the bottom half of the frame,
Matthew Tobin led off with a thunderous double off of the fence in center field, and got moved to third base thanks to a single by CJ Latham. Latham then stole second base during the next at-bat, and the catcher’s throw was dropped by the infielder, allowing Tobin to score from third and give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
After a walk to Kyle Locklear and a double steal, Keegan Jarvais hit a fly ball deep enough to score Latham and extend the lead to 2-0 after two innings.
Pepe Villamil led off the top of the third with a single for the Mudcats, but was stranded there after a strikeout and two flyouts. The bottom half was met with two hustle plays defensively by Mud Cats third baseman Cavan Brady.
Brady stayed with a bobbled ground ball, throwing to first in time to nail the runner, and kept his on a pop-up as he drifted into left field and made an over-the-shoulder catch to end the inning.
Thanks to a throwing error, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly from Cavan Brady, the Mud Cats cut the lead to 2-1 as Goretti crossed the plate. The Orioles called for a mound visit to settle down their pitcher, but Pusz gave up a single before his coach could even sit back down. Luckily for him, Rapillo popped out to third to end the top of the fourth before any more damage could be done.
The Mud Cats brought in Jake Washock to relieve Nista, but he was all over the place, walking three Orioles and giving up two earned runs, while only managing to get one batter out. Washock was taken out in the middle of an at-bat against Jarvais, after throwing seven straight balls, and the Mud Cats brought in Christian McCarthy to stop the bleeding. Jarvais’ sac fly stretched the Orioles’ lead to 4-1, and they were sitting comfortably as the game got to the fifth.
After a one out single by Christian Ott in the fifth, Pusz forced a flyout to right field, and picked off Ott to end the inning, his second time catching a runner in the game.
Ricky Miller led off the bottom half with a single but, after a pop out by Seales, he was quickly eliminated as Devin Disonell grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Pusz had not been showing too many signs of getting rattled or tired for the Orioles, manager Bobby Krogh had him back on the hill in the sixth inning. But that would change very shortly.
Lepere led off the sixth with a rocket double to left field that fell just short of a diving CJ Latham and skipped to the fence. Cavan Brady came up with one out, and looked to be headed back to the dugout on a routine pop up in the infield as Lepere stood on second. However, a miscommunication between Oriole infielders Disonell and Miller, caused a distraction and Miller dropped the ball. This error brought up Evan Fox, one of the best hitters in 2020, and he took advantage and launched a three run home run to tie the game at four.
Interestingly though, Krogh left Pusz on the mound with the damage already done. Pusz got the second out of the inning on a soft line out to first base, but then gave up a two out single that did get him replaced by Ryan Packard. Packard struck out Rapillo looking to end the nightmare inning for the Orioles as they looked to retake the lead.
Jacob Hutton popped out to second on the first pitch of the inning and slammed his bat into the ground in frustration. The Orioles then worked back-to-back one out walks, and Latham rifled a double to score Matthew Tobin from second as they reclaimed the lead.
After a Kyle Locklear strikeout, Keegan Jarvais checked his swing, but went far enough to hit an accidental bunt. Mud Cats pitcher Christian McCarthy fielded the ball cleanly but fell to the ground simultaneously, and his throw skipped past the first baseman, allowing another two runs to score.
The Orioles now led 7-4 very late in the game and sent Packard back out to to pitch the seventh and shut the door on the Mud Cats’ season.
However, the seventh and final inning of work was no cakewalk for Packard.
Pepe Villamil reached first base after Miller made a diving stop at short, but overthrew first base. A few batters later the Mud Cats had the tying run at the plate in the form of a pinch hitter named Michael Rose, with two outs and no room for error.
Orioles’ pitcher Ryan Packard would not be outmatched, however, and he struck out Rose to end the contest and propel his team to the championship series this weekend.
The Storm will look to repeat as Hudson River CBL Champions, as they take on the Orioles in a best two out of three series to decide the league title. Games one and two will be played Saturday at Ricky Cramer Field in Catskill starting at 11 a.m., and if there is a third game needed to break a series tie, that will be held on Sunday for the 2020 HRCBL Championship.