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Rob Potter | Democrat

Putnam Thunder shortstop Jeff Koehler watches from the background as Jesse Hufnagel of the Catskill Cougars, right, successfully steals second base and Putnam Thunder second baseman Ryan Sacchetti reaches out to tag Hufnagel in the bottom of the third inning of last Friday night’s game.

Catskill Cougars win last home game of the season

By Rob Potter
LIBERTY — August 13, 2010 — The batters had the advantage in the first inning of Friday night’s USSSA Hudson Valley League 17-and-Under baseball game at Liberty High School.
Both the visiting Putnam Thunder and the host Catskill Cougars were able to score in that opening frame.
But from the second inning on, Thunder pitcher Shane DeWitt and Cougars pitcher Jesse Hufnagel held the opposing batters in check and didn’t allow any runs.
The Cougars’ offense was a little more productive in that first inning, which enabled the team to record a 4-1 victory in its final home game of the season.
Putnam took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Leadoff batter Mike Morra ripped a double to deep left center field and moved to third base on an infield hit by Mike Benvenuto. Morra scored when DeWitt grounded out.
The Thunder seemed to have scored again moments later. On a squeeze play, Benvenuto slid across home plate a split second after Jason Ecker bunted the ball. Ecker was thrown out at first base to end the inning. Even though Benvenuto crossed the plate before the third out was recorded, the umpires ruled that the forceout takes precedence over the run and the score remained 1-0.
It didn’t take long for the Cougars (10-8) to take the lead, however. With one out and runners on the corners in the bottom of the first, Paul Rapoli singled to left field to allow Mike Mills to score the tying run. After Hufnagel walked to load the bases, Troy Correa hit a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop. As an out was recorded at third base, Joey Franke scored to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead.
Moments later, Hufnagel scored on an error and Correa crossed the plate on a single by Adam Hendrix to push the Cougars’ advantage to 4-1.
Over the remaining six innings, Hufnagel limited the Thunder to three hits and recorded nine strikeouts.
“Both teams played well,” Thunder Coach Brian Florenz said. “The teams played the game with good sportsmanship and respect for each other.
“It was a great game,” he added. “They just got some hits when they needed to.”
The game was the third between the Cougars and the Thunder this summer. The teams split a doubleheader at the Thunder’s home field at Brewster High School a few weeks ago.
“It was a good game,” Cougars Coach Todd Cook said. “Everybody played well and contributed to the win.”
Cook praised the performance by Hufnagel on the mound.
“He pitched with a lot of heart,” Cook said. “He threw strikes the whole game.
“This was a big win for us because it still gives us a chance to make the playoffs,” Cook added. “Our last regular season game is tomorrow at the Southern Dutchess Lightning and if we win, we’re in the playoffs.”
Note: Unfortunately for Cook and the Cougars, their season ended with a loss to the Southern Dutchess Lightning in that contest last Saturday.
“We had a great season and are looking forward to next summer,” Cook said.

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