Friday, July 11, 2008

Generals Over Rams 2-1 in 8 Innings

The Generals pulled out an extra innings win over the Rowley Rams Thursday night at Patton Park. Jeff Jensen went 7 1/3 innings for the Generals but did not figure in the decision. Ligouri pitched fantastic for the Rams going 7+ but was charged with the loss. Hits were hard to come by all night as both starters were on their games. Both teams had trouble capitalizing on the few chances they had.

Both pitchers held their opponents scoreless through three, before Rowley’s Dave Mariani clubbed a homerun to straightaway center to give Rowley a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Meanwhile, Ligouri was able to make the pitches when it counted most as Hamilton stranded two runners in scoring position in the third and runners at the corners in the fifth.

Hamilton's Tom Jones led off the sixth with a single to right and later came across to score on a clutch two-out RBI single off the bat from Tim O’Leary, tying the score at one. Jensen held the Rams scoreless in the top of the seventh. In the bottom half, Jim Maloney hit a two-out double to put the winning run to scoring position, but again Ligouri showed he pitches best under pressure, recording a strikeout for the final out of the inning to send the game to extra innings.

Jensen yielded a one out single in the eighth and then departed in favor of Mike Drinkwater. After retiring the first batter he faced, Drinkwater induced a groundball that was thrown away into rightfield as Hamilton attempted to record a force out at second. Rightfielder O’Leary tracked the ball down and made an accurate throw to catcher Bryan Vitale just in time to record the out on the Rowley baserunner who had come all the way around from first. The play ended the inning in dramatic fashion but more importantly kept the game tied heading into the bottom of the eighth.

In the bottom half of the eighth, Jered Stewart led off with a ground-rule double to left. Next up, Vitale reached on an infield error and then Judd Funchion was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs. Ligouri was finally pulled from the game at this point after a tremendous effort in favor of Matt Warden. Warden induced O’Leary to ground into a fielder’s choice with Rowley’s catcher making a nice catch and force-out at the plate to cut down the winning run. Now with one out and Justin Tilley at the plate, the first pitch was in the dirt and caromed toward the Rowley dugout allowing Vitale to trot home with the winning run, ending one of the best games of the ITL season thus far.

Ligouri pitched well enough to win but was charged with the tough-luck loss. Drinkwater picked up the win tossing 2/3 innings of relief. Mariani led Rowley's offense, hitting a homerun for the second night in a row. Teammates Maloney and O’Leary contributed multiple hits for the home team. Stewart was phenomenal filling in for the vacationing Andre Painchaud at first base, making several fine plays. Tilley also extended his league lead in fires fought to two.