By Lori Brown
LIBERTY July 31, 2007 The Middletown Babe Ruth Black Sox played the Catskill Cougars Thursday evening in an Elite Championship Tournament Baseball (ECTB) 19-and-under game at Liberty High School.
The Cougars prevailed, 3-1, in what was the regular season finale for both teams.
It was a scoreless game up until the fifth inning.
Catskill Cougars starting pitcher Justin Green shut out the Black Sox for the first three innings.
It the fourth inning, Brad Reimer relieved Green on the mound. Reimer stepped in and did a stellar job as well. The Cougars made some great defensive plays behind him, including turning a double play in the fourth inning.
The Black Sox took a 1-0 lead during the fifth inning with help from Matt Florio.
Florio hit a double and Jeremy Pena stepped in to pitch run for him. Jonathan Dineen got to first base by getting hit by the pitch. Izzy Mendez singled to right field to have bases loaded with only one out.
Bryant Illenberg slammed the ball into right field, but it was caught. Illenberg received a RBI when Pena crossed home plate after tagging up.
Dineen was picked off between third and home plate and was eventually tagged out to end the inning.
The Cougars tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Conner Noetzel started the inning off with a single to left field. The next two batters did not get on base, but they moved Noetzel around the bases and Noetzel eventually scored on a passed ball.
In the top of the sixth, the Black Sox’ Nate Judd walked and then stole second base. Reimer struck out the next batter.
Cougars Coach Todd Cook called a timeout and put Logan Grishaber in to pitch. Grishaber then got the next two outs to end the Black Sox’ scoring threat.
The Cougars’ Justin Garritt hit a single to right field in the bottom of the sixth and advanced to second base on a dead ball.
After a quick timeout, Garritt stole third base. He then scored on a bunt single by Garrett Owen.
Scott Hamlin slammed a double to right center field to send Owen home, which gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead.
Mike Cook took the mound for the Cougars in the top of the seventh. He recorded two strikeouts before walking the next batter.
Cook ended the game with another strikeout to preserve the Cougars’ two-run victory.
Black Sox Coach Jim Florio noted that Matt Florio pitched a really good game.
“It was errors that got us during the game,” Coach Florio said.
Cougars Coach Todd Cook said noted that his team would face the Black Sox again in the ECTB title game.
“The game we played today wouldn’t have changed the ranking,” Coach Cook said. “This game was important for us to score [some runs].
“There were new wrinkles that we needed to be better at,” he added. “We did much better later on [in the game]. I had to give the bullpen a lot of work, to keep them crisp.
“We found a way to score runs, battle and execute, in a textbook sequence.”
Coach Cook noted that both Garritt and Owen did a great job on the bases.
“The little things helped us win the ball game,” Cook said.
Note: Unfortunately for Coach Cook and the Cougars, the Black Sox gained revenge for Thursday’s defeat in the ECTB title game, which was played on Sunday afternoon at Watts Park in Middletown.
Dineen and Matt Florio each had two RBIs for the Black Sox, who defeated the Cougars, 7-2.