By Lori Brown
GRAHAMSVILLE Some scholastic games in Sullivan County were cancelled on Wednesday afternoon due to the weather, but the Tri-Valley Bears still hosted the Chester Hambletonians in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V game.
It was the second of the scheduled three-game Div. V series between the teams. On Tuesday afternoon in Chester, the Bears prevailed 25-2 to record their first win of the young season.
On Wednesday, T-V made it two wins in a row by defeating the Hambletonians, 6-2.
Chester’s Anthony Ognibene started off the game with a single, but T-V’s tight defense held him from scoring.
In the bottom of the first, T-V’s Peter DiMilia started off the scoring for his team as he brought home teammates Greg Swarthout and Joe Mickelson with a triple up right-field line.
Tyler Lopez sent DiMilia home when he was forced out at first base, which gave the Bears a 3-0 lead.
After two Hambletonians reached base in the top of the second, Bears pitcher Joe Mickelson ended the inning with two strikeouts.
T-V’s Steven McInerney started the bottom of the second with a double to center field. But Chester (3-5, 3-2 Div. V) recorded the next three outs.
The Hambletonians scored their first run in the top of the third. After T-V recorded the first two outs, one of which was catcher McInerney picking off a Chester runner at first base, Saxon Smith was walked. Smith then scored when Chris Wittekind singled to deep left field.
The Bears quickly recorded the third out to maintain their 3-1 advantage.
T-V (2-3, 2-3 Div. V) extended its lead in the bottom of the third. With teammates Swarthout and Mickelson on base, DiMilia slammed the ball over the fence for a three-run homer.
Just after that blast, the game was halted for about five minutes because of some sudden heavy rain.
When play resumed, the Hambletonians turned a double play to give them some momentum.
Chester’s Gio Alfonso opened the fourth inning by belting a solo home run to left field to cut the Bears’ lead to 6-2.
Ryan Cabrera was walked, but he was soon picked off between second and third base by the alert McInerney to end the inning.
Chester played stellar defense during the bottom of the fourth to keep the Bears from scoring.
With two outs already recorded in the top of the fifth, Chester’s Wittekind was up. He hit the ball to deep right field and the ball ended up all the way to the fence. Bears’ second baseman Tyler Lopez cut the ball and threw home just in time for McInerney to put a tag on Smith to end the inning.
Alfonso recorded two strikeouts in the bottom of the inning to keep it a 6-2 game.
The Bears recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth as they played great defense and Mickelson recorded his last strikeout of the game.
The Hambletonians turned in a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the sixth. Left fielder Andrew McCarthy caught two pop flies and Alfonso recorded a strikeout.
T-V relief pitcher Dave Donovan entered the game for the top of the seventh. He faced three batters and only threw a handful of pitches to seal the Bears’ win.
“We played well today,” Chester Coach Mike Doucette said. “Our pitcher, Gio Alfonso, did great today.
“We played with young players today,” Doucette added. “We gave extra outs, but it was a tight game. This is the first time we had a young team.
“I give all the credit to Tri-Valley, they hit well and had a clean defense,” he continued. “We had a couple of errors, but considering how we did yesterday, it was a good game.”
Doucette also said that “Tri-Valley’s defense will do damage this year.”
T-V Coach John Rusin said, “Pitcher Joe Mickelson pitched to contact today and his last two innings were his best. Our catcher, Steven McInerney, did great behind the plate, he was calling good pitches and directed traffic on the field.
“Defensively, we played good,” Rusin added. “Offensively, we had errors in the base paths, which hurt us in some scoring opportunities. We did enough to win.
“Chester did a really good job,” he continued. “The next one is important.”
The “next one” Rusin referred to was the third game of the series between the Bears and Hambletonians, which was scheduled to be played yesterday afternoon.
“Peter DiMilia gave us some breathing room and with two strikes from possible sacrifice bunts, he had a long drive to center field for a home run,” Rusin said.
DiMilia went 2 for 3 with a triple, home run and five RBIs.
T-V’s upcoming games include a three-game series with the Fallsburg Comets, which is scheduled to be played next Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Next Friday, May 6, the Bears are scheduled to travel to Cooperstown to face Ellenville.