By Ted Waddell
FALLSBURG May 24, 2002 If youre going to win a baseball game, dont walk the oppositions fleet-footed leadoff batter.
And dont let them smack a grand slammer over the fence.
The Liberty Indians defeated the home team Comets of Fallsburg, 10-4, Tuesday afternoon by getting leadoff batter Ashton Richards on base with a series of walks and a grand slam poke by Joe Colacurcio in the top of the fateful fifth frame.
Liberty (6-9, 2-6 OCIAA) jumped out of the scoring box in the first inning of the OCIAA Division IV contest. Richards walked and stole second. He scored on a double by Adam Myshtari.
At their turn at bat, the Comets tied it up 1-1 in the first.
Mike Gilberg reached on a base hit. Jeff ONeill doubled. Dave Klussman knocked in Gilberg on a sacrifice fly.
After a scoreless second inning, Liberty added two runs to its side of the ledger. Richards walked and Randy Caruso singled. A Colacurcio double scored two runs.
In the bottom of the third, Fallsburg (10-8, 4-4 OCIAA) went quietly back to their seats as Indians pitcher Richards shut down the batting order.
In the fourth inning, both teams were retired 1-2-3.
Then came the fateful fifth, as Liberty put the proverbial nails into the coffin. Richards walked again and Zach Nackley doubled. Myshtari then got nicked by a pitch to load the bases.
A hit by Caruso scored Richards. Colacurcios grand slam sent Nackley, Myshtari and Caruso scampering across the plate. Later in the frame, Dan Ratner reached and scored on an error to make it a 9-1 ballgame.
In the bottom of the fifth, Fallsburg fought back with a run. Leadoff batter Corey Huber singled and stole second. Austin Pantel knocked him in with a double.
In the Liberty sixth, Myshtari led off with a double and scored on a base hit by Caruso.
After yielding a base hit to Klussman in the bottom of the sixth, Richards struck out the next three batters.
In the bottom of the seventh, it was do-or-die for the Comets.
Gilberg and ONeill created a brief flurry of excitement as they reached on back-to-back singles. A base hit by Pantel scored Gilberg. Eddie Inzautio singled, which brought ONeill around to score.
But that was it for the Comets and Liberty walked off the field with the victory.
Richards, a 17-year-old in his first season on the Indians varsity squad, dominated the game from the mound. He struck out 11 Fallsburg batters.
I thought we played well today, he said. I pitched a pretty good game, and my defense backed me up through seven innings. The season was a little rough in the beginning, but towards the end weve been able to level it out and bring it all together.
Fallsburg Coach Brett Cancredi said Richards pitched a great game by sneaking it by us.
The Comets went through two pitchers as Brenden Pantel started but was relieved in mid-game by Brendan Woodard.
Brenden (Pantel) threw the ball well, struggled a little bit with his control and walked their leadoff guy a couple of times, said Cancredi. It hurts when you walk the lead off guy.
Woodard came in and did a great job, (but) we booted the ball around in the infield, he added.
With only a couple of games remaining in regular season play, Cancredi has his eye on making it to the sectionals by winning two in a row.
Wed like to finish up 12 and 8, he said. Youve got to keep fighting..
Liberty Coach Jim OConnor was happy to get the victory.
I thought it was a good game, and Fallsburg is a great team, he said. Weve been struggling as a team, so its a big win for us.