By Rob Potter
MOUNTAINDALE June 10, 2005 It was an Ernie Banks kind of afternoon last Saturday at Baxter Stadium in Mountaindale.
For it was Banks, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer, who was credited with saying Lets play two!
The host Sullivan Spartans and Marlboro Cobras did just that Saturday, playing a Collegiate Baseball League (CBL) doubleheader.
Sullivan swept the twinbill, winning the first game by a final score of 2-1 and then taking the second contest, 3-1.
In the opener, Spartans starting pitcher Everett Saul allowed one hit and one earned run while striking out six over four and a third innings.
Kyle Sinclair picked up the save for Sullivan, striking out three and giving up one hit over two and two-thirds innings of relief work.
Sullivan scored one run in the bottom of the second and its other run in the bottom of the third.
Tom Weiner scored the first Spartans run on a two-out single by Steve Cabarcas.
In the bottom of the third, Tim Gilmore reached base with a one-out single. He then moved to third base on a hit-and-run single by Brian Gannon.
Elvin Gutierrez then singled to allow Gilmore to score what would become the game-winning run.
In the second game, Marlboro took an early lead. Rob Melnyk led off the top of the second with a bunt single and the next batter, Rich Whitney, hit an infield single to put runners at the corners.
Moments later, Matt Zeilberger ripped a single to left field, which enabled Melnyk to cross home plate and give the Cobras a 1-0 advantage.
Whitney and Zeilberger then executed a double steal, moving up to third and second base, respectively.
But Spartans pitcher Travis Steffens prevented the Cobras doing any more damage when he recorded a strikeout and then a fly out.
Sullivan tied the game in the bottom of the third. With two outs and the bases loaded, Gutierrez was hit by a pitch. As he made his way to first base, Weiner jogged home from third base to knot the score at 1-1.
The contest remained tied until the bottom of the sixth.
The first batter of the frame, David Babcock, reached base on an error and moved up to second when Gutierrez laid down a sacrifice bunt. Gannon then ripped a double to left center field, which allowed Babcock to score and give the Spartans a 2-1 lead.
Two batters later, Cabarcas singled to center field, which brought Gannon home with an insurance run.
Steffens then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning to nail down the victory. In going the distance, he gave up only three hits. The southpaw recorded nine strikeouts and only walked one batter.
Steffens got plenty of help from his defense as well. One example of that came in the top of the sixth when the Marlboros Rob Pagan led off with a walk. The next batter, Nick Marino ripped a Steffens offering down the line, but Spartans first baseman Gutierrez dove to his left and smothered the ball in his glove. Gutierrez then touched first base to force out Marino on what could have been a single or even a double.
Steffens then got a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning.
With the victory, Sullivan moved to 3-1 overall this season and 3-1 in CBL competition. Marlboro fell to 1-2, 1-2 CBL.
A lot of the guys on this team havent played in a while, Marlboro Coach Tony Morales said. So for them, its a matter of getting back into [baseball] shape.
The two pitchers we used today, one hasnt played in two years and the other has been out a year, he added.
However, Morales is confident that his team will improve as the summer progresses.
Well be back, he said.
Naturally, Spartans Coach Jed Carrier was pleased to get two wins. He especially noted the performance of the Spartans pitchers and defense.
Travis Steffens has been our ace for three years now, Carrier said. The opposing teams get some hits off of him, but he also keeps the batters off balance.
If we play good defense behind Travis and all of our pitchers, we will win a lot of ball games.