By Ted Waddell
MOUNTAINDALE July 9, 2002 Sometimes, baseball is like an Italian dinner.
On Sunday, the Sullivan County Spartans (8-11) smacked their lips as they heated up a helping of fra diablo hot sauce to defeat the Plattekill Diabolos (1-14) at Baxter Stadium in Mountaindale in a collegiate baseball league (CBL) doubleheader.
The Spartans blanked the opposition 11-0 in the first game, and defeated the Diabolos 8-3 in the second game of the afternoon.
In the first game, Spartans starting pitcher James Biondo gave up one hit in four innings. Danny Matland hurled the final three frames, allowing one hit.
Jesus Pintado led off for the Spartans in the top of the first with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Bill Reichmann. Andy Peterson's line drive was misplayed, allowing Pintado to score.
John McElwee reached on an error and the second run scampered home. Kris Kukawski reached on an error. McElwee scored on a wild pitch, Sean McGuire singled to score Kujawski. Scott Coddington reached on an error and stole second. Brian Heavy struck out to end the five-run inning.
In the wake of a scoreless second, the Spartans added two runs to their tally in the third. Kujawski led off with a single and stole second. Coddington walked. Kujawski scored on a wild pitch. Pintado walked and Coddington scored on a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the fourth, with one out, Kujawski walked. McGuire singled and Kujawski moved up to third on an error to left field. Coddington grounded out to short. Heavy reached on an error at third and Kujawski sprinted home. Pintado popped out to end the frame.
The Spartans sent three runners across the plate in the fifth.
In the Spartans' second outing of the afternoon, with two outs in the top of the first, Biondo singled. McElwee singled and VanDermark walked to stack the deck. Catcher James Kautz smashed a 2 RBI single up the middle to score Biondo and McElwee.
Mark Stofko led off the Spartan second with a single. He was erased at second base when Coddington hit into a fielder's choice. Coddington then stole second and third on consecutive wild pitches with Pintado at the plate and scored on another wild pitch. Pintado walked and stole second, and moved to third on a wild pitch. Reichmann grounded to second and Pintado scored on the error. Reichmann stole second. McElwee singled home Reichmann to give the Spartans a 5- 0 lead.
There are plays, and then there are plays. In the opening frame, Heavy stepped up to the plate and attempted a bunt, but got whacked in the eye as the ball ricocheted off his bat. The play caused a few fans and teammates to kid him: "That's the way to keep your eye on the ball!"
In the bottom of the second, the Diabolos fought back with a couple of runs. Will Seitz led off with a single. Joe Cox flew out. Rob McDonough singled. Mike Milby singled to score Seitz. Eric Bgorkman walked. Mike Marcasciano walked to push in the second run to make it a 5-2 ballgame.
Spartans starter Brian Heavy served up a one-out single to Seitz in the bottom of the third. Cox walked, McDonough flew out. Milby reached first the hard way after getting hit by a pitch to fill the bases.
Bgorkman walked to score Seitz. With the bases loaded, Danny Matland came in to get the final out of the inning for the Spartans.
Matland picked up the win by pitching three and one-third frames, striking out three, giving up two hits and allowing no runs.
In the bottom of the sixth, Pintado led off with a single and then stole second. Reichmann walked. Biondo walked to load the bases. McElwee singled home Pintado. Andy Peterson pinch-hit for Vandermark, but struck out looking.
Kautz walked with the bases loaded, to push Reichmann across the plate. Kujawski reached on a fielder's choice, second to short, forcing Kautz but scoring Biondo. Stofko struck out to end the inning.
Sean McGuire pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Spartans.
"It's been a tough season," said John McDonough, coach of the Plattekill Diabolos.
For Shane Slader of the Diabolos, playing at Baxter Stadium was a homecoming. In 1995, he pitched for the Mountaindale Lions.
"It's kind of different now, " he said. "When I was here, it was brand new, but now it's kind of run down."
After going 1-8 in the first third of the season, the Spartans' coaching staff decided to do some creative scorekeeping. Instead of dividing the 2002 CBL season into halves, they carved it up into thirds.
And the strategy seems to be working. At the close of the two-thirds mark when the team went 6-3, the Spartans are 8-11 overall and are eyeing a berth in the playoffs.
"Our record says a lot for the team because we started off 1-8," said Spartans GM Tim Havas. "A lot of kids would have gotten discouraged and quit, but these guys kept on battling."
Player/coach Jared Carrier said he's confident the team will match or exceed their 6-3 second third record in the final third of the season.
"We're in a hunt to make the playoffs," he said. "I feel we have a really good chance."