MIDDLETOWN – Middletown North’s baseball coach, Mike Dooley, expected a good season this year with a mixture of veterans and young players. After a slow start, it seems to be coming together.
The Lions scored two key A Division North wins last week by stopping Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) Wednesday, April 16, in the makeup of a suspended game, and then defeating rival Middletown South, 4-1, Saturday, April 19.
“The win over CBA was a big boost for us,” said Dooley after the South game. “We had been having some defensive struggles in the past, but the team has been playing very well lately.”
North, 3-3, got some timely hitting, and a well-pitched game from Frank Dente who picked up the win with a five-hitter over the first five innings.
“Overall, I think our record could be a little bit better,” Dooley said, “but we have several good seniors on the mound and behind the plate. The younger players have also helped.”
The big inning for the Lions was the fourth when they broke a 1-1 tie with three runs off losing pitcher John Zega.
Catcher Ryan Goscinski was hit by a pitch with one out and Ed Sena pinch ran for him. Zega struck out Mike Bartels and Mike Zibrin hit a pop-up to short right field, but the ball was dropped, allowing Sena, who was running with two outs, to score the tie-breaking run.
Aaron Borrero walked and Chuck Estelle beat out an infield hit to load the bases. Ryan Byrd, who had three hits and scored a run in the game, beat out an infield hit, scoring Zibrin. Winning pitcher Dente helped his own cause with an RBI single.
“We got some clutch hits in that inning,” Dooley said, “but our team has been battling back all season and did so today.”
South coach Ryan Spilane said, “It was just a matter of miscommunication on that play (dropped pop-up). North didn’t hit the ball hard in that inning and had three infield hits, but they hit them to the right spot.”
South scored its only run in the first inning when Kyle Brey singled, stole second and scored on Andrew Wisialko’s single.
North tied it up in its half of the first when Byrd led off with a double and Kyle Capo followed with an RBI single.
Hitting has been a problem for South this season.
“It’s tough to win when you don’t put runners on base,” Spillane said. “We have to improve on that. We can play defense, run the bases and the pitching has been good, but we should get better.”