By Rob Potter
LIBERTY The visiting Chapel Field Lions scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat the Liberty Indians, 8-6, in Tuesday afternoon’s non-league baseball game.
Jeff Riveria led off the top of the seventh for Chapel Field and was hit by a pitch. Brad Vellenga then doubled and Riveria scored all the way from first base to give the Lions a 7-6 lead.
After Liberty’s Jesse Hufnagel took over for teammate Will McGuire on the mound, Josh Schoch reached base on an error to put runners on the corners.
Dustin Vellenga then hit a ground ball to Liberty shortstop Joe Franke, who quickly threw the ball to second baseman Conor Siegel to force out Schoch. But the Indians were unable to complete the double play and Brad Vellenga crossed home plate to give the Lions a two-run lead.
Liberty (0-8) attempted to rally for the victory in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Hufnagel singled to left field.
The next batter, Anthony Covington, made good contact with a pitch from Chapel Field’s Dylan Vellenga, sending the ball into the right field corner. With a slight breeze, the ball was carrying away from right fielder Riveria, but he reached out with his glove and made a nice catch to end the game.
The game was close for all seven innings. Chapel Field (6-4) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Dominick Ceccione scored on a base hit by Dylan Vellenga.
Liberty evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. Ben Grisafe led off with single to right field and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Fedun. Grisafe crossed the plate when Covington singled to left field.
Chapel Field regained the lead in the top of the second when Vincenzo Pepe, who began the inning with a single, scored as teammate Brad Vellenga was caught in a rundown between first base and second base.
The Indians took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the second.
Forrest Kirsch reached base with a one-out single and Siegel drew a walk and Will McGuire was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kirsch scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Grisafe.
Fedun then belted a stand-up triple to deep left field, sending both Siegel and McGuire home.
Chapel Field answered with three runs in the top of the third. With one out, Mark Rockefellow reached base with an infield hit and promptly stole second base. Dylan Vellenga then narrowly beat a throw to first base after hitting the ball behind second base to give the Lions runners at first and third.
Troy Mahon then hit a fielder’s choice grounder to third base and Rockefellow safely slid under the tag of Liberty catcher Hufnagel to make it a one-run game. Dylan Vellenga crossed the plate with the tying run when Pepe reached base on an error.
Mahon scored to give the Lions a 5-4 advantage as Brenden Goldberg reached base with an infield hit.
Liberty evened the contest at 5-5 in the bottom of the third. Covington led off with a single and tagged up and went to second base when Franke hit a fly ball to left field. Andrew Cross then singled, allowing Covington to score.
The Indians used a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-5 lead. Grisafe had an infield hit and stole second base. Fedun then reached base on an error and advanced to second base on the play as Grisafe crossed home plate.
In the top of the sixth, Dustin Vellenga scored on a single by Dylan Vellenga to make it a 6-6 game.
Chapel Field Coach Joe Canazon noted that both teams made some mistakes which factored into many of the runs that were scored in the game.
“We were able to get some good hits today,” he said. “Those two runs in the top of the seventh were the keys to the game.”
Canazon also praised Riveria for his catch to end the game.
“He did a great job,” Canazon said. “That’s what we tell all of our players reach out with your glove and try to make the catch.”
Dylan Vellenga got the complete-game win for the Lions. He struck out three batters and walked one.
Kirsch was the starting pitcher for the Indians. In four innings of work, he allowed six hits, struck out two batters and walked three.
“We’re in every game; we haven’t had any blowout losses,” Liberty Coach John Wilhelm said. “All of our games have been close. We make too many mistakes, that’s the bottom line.”
Wilhelm, Assistant Coach Phil Fanning and all of the Liberty players are looking forward to recording their first win of the season in the near future. Yesterday afternoon, the Indians were scheduled to host the Livingston Manor Wildcats in a non-league game.
Next week, the Indians are scheduled to play the Tuxedo Tornadoes in a three-game Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV series. The Indians will host Tuxedo on Monday and Thursday. On Tuesday, Liberty will travel to Tuxedo.