By Rob Potter
ELDRED May 18, 2004 A strong pitching performance and a few timely hits spelled victory for the Livingston Manor baseball team on Friday afternoon.
The visiting Wildcats grabbed an early 3-0 lead in their Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI game versus the Eldred Yellowjackets. Manor then added three more runs in the remaining innings to record a 6-2 win.
Manor (4-8, 3-1 OCIAA) wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard. With two runners on base and two outs in the top of the first, Manors Jason Bowers ripped a double to center field to give the Wildcats a quick 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Ryan Taggart reached base on an infield hit to shortstop. After Eldred pitcher Mike Prunka struck out the next Manor batter for the second out of the frame, Evan Irwin singled to center field to bring Taggart around to score.
Eldred (0-9, 0-5 OCIAA) answered with a run in the bottom of the third. With one out, Prunka singled to left field. Two batters later, Vinny Reilly doubled to left field and Prunka scored to cut the Manor lead to 3-1.
However, the Wildcats extended their advantage to 5-1 by scoring twice in the fifth inning. The first two batters, Saqib Iqbal and Taggart, both reached base on Yellowjacket errors. Kyle Lackey then grounded out to shortstop, but Iqbal crossed home plate on the play. Irwin then hit an infield grounder and was thrown out at first base. Taggart scampered home as the out was recorded to give the Wildcats a four-run cushion.
Bobby Caputo hit an RBI single in the top of the sixth for Manors final run of the afternoon.
The Yellowjackets attempted to rally in their last at-bat. The first two batters in the bottom of the seventh, Walter Kreidel and Nic McCormick, both reached base. Kreidel was hit by a pitch and McCormick walked to give Eldred a pair of baserunners with no outs.
Manor pitcher Lackey got an infield groundout and then struck out the next Eldred batter to bring the Wildcats to within one out of the victory.
Patrick Kean singled to left field to bring Kreidel around to score Eldreds second run of the game.
But with McCormick and Kean on base, Lackey induced a fly ball out to end the contest.
Lackey earned the win for the Wildcats. He pitched all seven innings, recording 12 strikeouts and scattering five hits.
He did well today, Manor Coach Rob Farrell said of Lackey and his performance on the mound. Both of Eldreds runs were earned and he only gave up a few hits. Kyle was very confident out there today. I could see that confidence in him.
As he looked over the Wildcats scorebook, Farrell found another aspect of the contest that pleased him.
We had a solid defensive game today and Im very happy about that, he said.
Yellowjacket catcher J. T. Vogt was 2-for-3 in the game.
Prunka pitched a complete game and registered six strikeouts.
We have a good group of young kids, Eldred Coach Frank Kean said.
While his team committed a few errors versus Manor and is still searching for its first win of the 2004 season, Kean remains optimistic.
Well try and work through it, he said of the Yellowjackets losing streak.