By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE Neither the visiting Tuxedo Tornadoes nor the Tri-Valley Bears prevailed in their Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V baseball game last Wednesday afternoon.
Instead, the winner was darkness.
With the score tied at 16-16 and the Bears standing in their defensive positions on the field at the start of the 10th inning, the umpires called Tuxedo Coach Marco Margotta and T-V Coach John Rusin to home plate. The umpires then expressed their concerns that the game could not be completed before darkness totally set in and that continuing to play in the rapidly diminishing daylight could be dangerous for the players.
So the umpires officially suspended the game due to darkness. Both Margotta and Rusin agreed with the umpires that halting the contest was a safe and prudent decision.
The decision of when and where to finish the game is up to the OCIAA. Rusin speculated that the OCIAA might decide to have the Tornadoes and Bears complete the contest this afternoon in Tuxedo prior to their regularly scheduled Div. V game.
“It’s the league’s decision and I am sure those officials will do the right thing,” Rusin said.
If the Bears end up winning the suspended game, they would claim the Div. V title.
T-V (9-9, 3-1 Div. V) knotted the score at 16-16 and forced extra innings with a spirited four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh.
With two runners on base and two outs, Matt Bogorad singled to center field to bring Jesse Brown and Dominick Baggatta around to score. The next batter, Tim Martin, singled to keep the inning going. Dan Byrne then drew a walk to load the bases.
Andrew Yager ripped a single to right field, which allowed both Bogorad and Martin to cross the plate.
Tuxedo’s Ryan Buckley led off the top of the eighth with single. After a fly out and strikeout, Buckley was tagged out by Martin after getting caught in a rundown between second base and third base.
The Bears got a leadoff hit from Brown in the bottom of the eighth, but could not bring him around to score.
In the top of the ninth, T-V relief pitcher Erik Raymond struck out two Tornadoes as he retired the side in order.
Tuxedo (12-3, 3-1 Div. V) grabbed a 9-0 lead early in the game. The Tornadoes scored a run in the top of the first inning on an error and tacked on another run in the top of the second due to another Bears’ miscue.
The Tornadoes extended their advantage to 8-0 in the top of the third. Key hits in the inning included an RBI double by Marc Poliey and RBI singles by John Casse, Billy Branner and Peter Prall.
The Bears answered with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Peter DiMilia belted a triple to deep left center field to score Baggatta. Later in the frame, DiMilia and Bobby Beale both scored on an error.
T-V added three runs in the bottom of the fifth on an error, Matt Garigliano’s RBI double and Bogorad’s RBI single.
Poliey and Joe McNamee both hit a run-scoring single in the top of the sixth to help the Tornadoes extend their lead to 15-6.
The Bears responded by registering six runs in the bottom of the sixth to close to within three at 15-12. Baggatta and Bogorad each hit a two-run single to key the T-V offense in the frame.
Tuxedo countered with a run in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Casse walked and then advanced to third base on two wild pitches. He scored when Poliey reached base on an error.
“Every time we had the lead, they would come back,” Margotta said of the Bears. “We were up 9-0, 9-6, 15-6 and 15-8.
“We needed to make better pitches to get them out,” he added. “When we didn’t make those good pitches, they took advantage of it and scored some runs.”
Rusin had mixed feelings about the game.
“We didn’t play well early and fell behind,” he said. “I wasn’t happy that we fell behind, but I am very proud of the way our guys came back and played later in the game. They showed a lot of heart and determination.”
Rusin also praised Raymond.
“Erik Raymond pitched very well in the ninth inning,” the veteran coach commented. “He hasn’t pitched too much since our trip to South Carolina in early April, but he came in today and threw strikes.”