By Rob Potter
LIBERTY July 4, 2006 The Catskill Cougars recorded their first two victories of the 2006 season on Sunday afternoon at Liberty High School.
The Cougars swept an Elite Championship Tournament Baseball (ECTB) Hudson Valley Summer League Division doubleheader against the visiting East Fishkill Pirates. Catskill (2-2-1) prevailed by a 6-2 score in the opener and then shut out the Pirates 15-0 in the second game.
The second contest ended in the bottom of the fifth inning due to the ECTBs 15-run mercy rule.
East Fishkill (0-8) grabbed early leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first game. But the Cougars tied it at 2-2 and then scored one run in each of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to post the 6-2 victory.
Leading Catskill to the win were Justin Katz and Jim Moloney, both of whom went 2-for-2 at the plate. In addition, Casey Pazzalia was 1-for-2 with a single.
Moloney pitched the first four innings, giving up two runs. He was relieved by Corey Van Keuren, who held the Pirates scoreless in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Max Kiberick and Ricky Ward paced the East Fishkill offense. Kiberick hit a double and scored both of the teams runs, while Ward was 2-for-3 with a double.
In the second game, the Cougars took control with two big innings. Catskill scored six runs in the second inning and five runs in the the fourth to grab a commanding 11-0 lead.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Justin Garritt singled to right field. The next three batters Troy Kirchner, Moloney and Katz all reached base with bunt singles and Garritt scored when Katz reached first base after a well-placed bunt.
Two batters later, Mike Kushetsky smacked a bloop single just inside the right field line. Kirchner and Moloney crossed home plate on the hit, while Katz scored a few seconds later on a Pirates error.
Kushetsky scored on a passed ball and Justin Green came home on a single by Pazzalia to give Catskill a 6-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Pazzalia ripped a two-run single to left field to extend the Cougars lead to 8-0. Van Keuren, Garritt and Moloney smacked RBI singles later in the inning to make it an 11-0 ballgame.
Green and Garrett Owen had RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth.
Kushetsky, Moloney and Owen all went 3-for-3 in the contest and Kushetsky scored three times.
Catskill pitcher Mike Cook allowed just one hit and struck out four Pirates to earn the win. The only Pirate to get a hit against Cook was Ward, who led off the top of the first with a grounder to shortstop and then sprinted down the line to beat the throw to first base.
Catskill Coach Mike McGuire said that Cook threw really well today. He also praised Moloney and Van Keuren for their performances on the mound in the first contest.
While East Fishkill is still looking for its first victory of the summer, Coach Harry Lazaros said he saw some positives from his young players. He emphasized the word young since the Pirates, like the Cougars, are a 19, 18-and-Under ECTB team. But none of the Pirate players are 18 or 19 years old.
We played pretty well defensively in that second game, Lazaros commented. We had some good infield plays.
The Cougars ability to bunt safely and steal bases was a key factor in the contest.
Thats our game, Coach Mike McGuire said. We have a lot of fast base runners, so we want to use our legs to get on base. When you have a team that can run the bases well, it puts more pressure on the defense and more pressure on the pitcher.
Of course, some timely base hits helped the Cougars cause as well.
When you have good pitching and defense and an offense that can score a few runs, youre going to win a lot of baseball games, McGuire commented.