By Ted Waddell
LIVINGSTON MANOR May 25, 2004 It was like a scene from Animal Kingdom out on the baseball field Thursday afternoon as the host Wildcats of Livingston Manor squared off against the Tri-Valley Bears.
T-V got the best of the wildlife battle, however, winning the game by a final score of 10-5.
In the top of the first, the Bears got things rolling by jumping out with a run. But according to T-V Coach John Rusin, his team squandered a great opportunity to score even more runs in the inning.
Danny Knox led off with a walk and stole second. After J.R. Rennison walked, Knox figured he might as well purloin third base.
With runners at first and third, Manor pitcher Kyle Lackey served up a wild pitch and Knox legged it home.
Rennison wound up on third base and Matt Calabrese walked to stage a repeat of runners at first and third. Calabrese advanced T-Vs chances of increasing its lead by stealing second.
With one run on the scoreboard and no outs, Bears clean-up batter Ryan Briggs walked to stack the deck. Zac Bright sent a dying quail to short. Matt Waldman hit a grounder to Wildcats third baseman Derek Irwin, who threw the ball to second base to start a double play.
And suddenly the Bears dreams of some easy runs turned to ashes on the field.
In the bottom of the opening frame, Manor surged ahead with four runs.
Josh Mendez walked. Ryan Taggart singled. Lackey smacked a two-run double to score both Mendez and Taggart.
Bear pitcher Briggs decided it was time to give up a couple of hard- earned free passes to first by nicking Evan Irwin and Jason Bowers to put runners at the corners.
Derek Irwin then hit a fielders choice to shortstop. As Irwin was thrown out at first base, Lackey raced home to give the Wildcats a 3-1 advantage.
Saqib Iqbal singled to score a run later in the inning.
The Bears clawed their way closer to Manor with two runs in the second.
Joe Garigliano led off the frame getting hit by a pitch and got even by stealing second base and third base.
Matt Smiths RBI double brought Garigliano home from the hot corner. Knox walked and stole second.
Calabrese singled to score Smith to make it a 4-3 ballgame with the Wildcats still in the drivers seat by a run.
At their turn at bat in the bottom of the second, the Wildcats scored what proved to be their final run of the game.
An error in the T-V infield allowed Bobby Caputo to make it to first. After Lackey got hit by a pitch and another error was committed by the Bears, Caputo legged it home to put Manor up by a couple of runs, 5-3.
From that point on, it was lights out for Manor (4-11) as Briggs settled down on the mound and sent the Wildcat batters back to their seats in the dugout.
After a scoreless third inning, the Bears tied it up 5-5 in the fourth.
Brandon Scott led off the inning with a double and stole third. Smith brought him home with a grounder to the hot corner (third base).
With two outs, Rennison walked and stole second. Calabrese ripped a double RBI to tie the game.
Following a scoreless fifth, T-V (12-6) sent two runners across home plate in the sixth.
With two outs, Rennison walked and stole second. Calabrese reached base after he hit an infield grounder and the throw to first base was errant, which also allowed Rennison to score.
Later in the frame, Calabrese legged it across the plate on a passed ball to put the Bears up by a 7-5 score.
In the final frame, T-V slammed to door on the Wildcats by scoring four runs.
Bright struck out, but Manors catcher dropped the ball. Bright made it to first base on the play and then stole second.
Justin Stubitts got hit by a pitch. Garigliano attempted to sacrifice the runners over with a bunt and wound up with a single to load em up.
Josh Smith got his bell rung after getting beaned with a pitch that was a little on the inside of the plate. Bright scored on the play, giving the Bears an 8-5 lead.
With the bases still loaded, Smith ripped his second double of the game, The three-run double cleared the bases to give the Bears an 11-5 victory over the Wildcats.
Lackey pitched a complete game for the Wildcats, but gave up 11 walks.
Briggs went the distance on the mound for the Bears. He faced 14 batters in the first couple of frames, but after settling down, confronted only 16 in the remaining five innings.
It was a non-league game, but it was very important because of the sectional seedings, Manor Coach Rob Farrell said.
The problem was our pitcher walked too many people . . . too many two-out walks, Farrell added. You get a runner on, and the next thing you know, hes going to steal.
Farrell said that if he could get his team to eliminate the mental mistakes that let the other team break out, they would have had a better season.
You eliminate that, you win, he said.
Rusin said that after his hurler got off to a rough start, he settled down and pitched very well.
The coach also noted that T-V got off to a pretty good start this season with a 9-2 record, even winning eight games in a row at one point. But the Bears suffered three losses to Chester.
The kids have formed a nice bond, theyre a team, Rusin said. Were looking forward to making some noise in the sectionals if we play the game were capable of.