BH Long Island Spring Challenge Champs
Yaphank, NY – The Long Island Prospects captured the Baseball Heaven Long Island Spring Challenge tournament title yesterday after running the table throughout the weekend going 5-0. The championship came from a team effort in all aspects of the game.
Friday night’s 9-1 victory over Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy of Stamford CT got things moving in the right direction. Starting pitcher Chris Wasson kept the BVSA offense quiet through two innings while a RBI triple by Matt Conry followed by a base hit from Alec Acri gave the Prospects a 2-0 lead. After a lead-off walk and back-to-back hits from BVSA led to a run in and two on in the third, Wasson, now playing third base, fielded a hard hit ball near the bag, stepped on the base, fired to Will Shaw at second, who got it over to Nick Valeriano at first for an inning-ending, around-the-horn, 5-4-3 triple play! In the bottom of the inning, after Shaw reached on an error and Brian Porricelli singled, Conry drove in two more with a double to right center and later scored to give the Prospects a 5-1 lead. Acri was settled in in long relief and threw three scoreless. The Prospects started out the sixth inning with singles by Matt Coster and Jack Delaney. A well-placed bunt for a base hit by Eric Solomon loaded the bases. Shaw then singled to right for two RBI. The final blow came when Wasson then delivered a walk-off triple into the left field corner to drive in two more and trigger the run-rule.
On Saturday morning, under showers and a gloomy weather forecast, the Prospects headed to Firemen’s Field in Ridge to face the Atlantic Baseball Club Mariners from Pembroke MA. LI got on the board early when a walk to Wasson and RBI hits by Porricelli and Conry gave them a 2-0 lead in the middle of the first. But the Mariners returned the favor in the bottom when a walk and two hits of their own tied it. In relief of starter Will Shaw, who left the game with a stiff back, Eric Solomon sat Pembroke down 1-2-3 in the second. In the Prospects’ half, a lead-off walk to Coster and hits by Solomon, Jake Cheshire and Porricelli put LI ahead 5-2. But things got ugly for the Prospects in the third frame when a hit-by-pitch, three walks and a single led to four Mariners runs and a 6-5 lead change. Nick Valeriano came on to settle things down from the hill. As they so often do, the Prospects responded in their next chance. In the top of the fourth, a two-out knock up the middle by Conry scored Cheshire and Shaw to regain the lead for LI, 7-6. They added some insurance in the sixth by way of a pair of walks, singles from Acri and Valeriano, and a double to right by Solomon, plating five more in the inning and sealing the 12-6 win.
The last pool round game was in the rain early Saturday evening against the Coventry RI Riverdogs. Prospects starting pitcher Jake Cheshire fought through some early control problems and the Dogs worked two walks into an early run. LI came out in the bottom with a lead-off single by Wasson followed by a laser off the bat of Porricelli that burned the center fielder for an inside-the-park home run and a 2-1 lead. A lead-off walk and a double got RI even, 2-2, in the middle of the second. LI responded with hits by Nilsen, Cheshire, Conry, Acri and Valeriano to score four and go ahead 6-2. Walks and sloppy play set the table for the walk-off single in the fourth by Porricelli to give the Prospects a 12-2 win by run rule, and a 3-0 record in pool pay to take their division and a bid to the tournament semi-finals on Sunday.
Under sunny Mothers Day afternoon skies, the Prospects lined up against Pride 9 from Stamford CT. The Prospects scored first when a lead-off walk drawn by Wasson and a single by Conry led to a 1-0 lead. Then Porricelli took charge from the mound setting Pride down in order. The teams traded 1-2-3 innings in the second frame. Shaw got things started for LI in third when he dropped a single into center that was followed by hits from Porricelli, Acri and Valeriano to give the Prospects a 3-0 lead. Porricelli sat Pride down 1-2-3 on eight pitches to end the fourth. After LI went quietly in the fifth, Pride managed their first base runner with a single in their half and threatened with a walk that followed but Porricelli came up with a big strikeout to end it. After Pride pitching again got the upper hand on the Prospects’ offense, the Stamford team mounted their biggest threat in the bottom of the sixth inning. Back-to-back walks brought the tying run to the plate. What looked to be a single dropped into left but Matt Coster played it on a hop and fired to third base to instead record a 7-5 fielder’s choice for the first out. A ground ball to Acri at third and a foot-race to the base led to out two. A walk followed to load the bases. After going 3-2 to the Pride three-hitter, Porricelli got the swinging strikeout to end the sixth. LI threatened in the seventh with a lead-off walk by Delaney, and Cheshire reaching on catcher’s interference but they failed to score. In the bottom, Stamford managed a lead-off single. Porricelli K’d the next two. But another base hit brought the tying run to bat. Porricelli then induced a ground ball to Delaney at first base for the unassisted put-out to end it. Porricelli was the story of this one with the complete-game shut-out victory allowing 3 hits, 4 walks, and striking out 11 (while helping himself on offense with 2 hits and a run scored).
In the championship game, the Prospects faced the #1 seed LI Lookouts. After the Prospects got two aboard but failed to score in the first, the Medford team got on the board when a flare to right was misplayed into a two-run home run and the Lookouts led 2-0 after one. The teams exchanged 1-2-3 innings in the second. Solomon dropped a single into right to start the third and two walks loaded the bases. Porricelli followed with a two-RBI single to right to tie it. After Conry and Acri drew walks to push another across, Porricelli scored on a wild pitch and the Prospects led 4-2 in the middle of the third. After Prospects pitcher Nick Valeriano threw a 1-2-3 inning in the Lookout’s third, the Prospects went down in order in the fourth. With two hits in the Lookout’s fourth leading to a run, the Medford team pulled to within one, 4-3. After two quick outs in the top of the fifth, Porricelli drove a long ball that bounced over the right field wall for a ground-rule double but the Prospects failed to capitalize. A lead-off hit for the Lookouts in the fifth got the tying run aboard but was caught stealing by Jake Cheshire. Matt Conry came on for the Prospects to pitch a scoreless sixth and seventh for the save.