By Lori Brown
MONTICELLO Four teams came together to play in the Fourth Annual John Spear Memorial Wood Bat Baseball Tournament last Friday and Saturday at Monticello High School.
Those teams included the host Monticello Panthers, Ellenville Blue Devils, Rondout Valley Ganders and Tri-Valley Bears.
John Spear, who was the Varsity Baseball Coach at Monticello High School for 20 years, passed away in a January 2007 car accident.
In Friday afternoon’s semifinals, Ellenville and Monticello played at Monticello High School, while Tri-Valley hosted Rondout Valley. Monticello defeated Ellenville, 15-1, and Rondout Valley shut-out T-V, 5-0.
At 10 a.m. on Saturday, Monticello met Rondout Valley in the championship game at Monticello High School. The Panthers prevailed, 7-4, to defend their Spear Memorial Tournament championship from last year.
In the 1 p.m. consolation game at Monticello High School, Ellenville posted a 10-5 victory over the T-V Bears.
Monticello 7 • Rondout Valley 4
The Ganders took a 3-0 lead over Monticello in the first inning of the title game.
But the Panthers quickly evened the score at 3-3.
While Monticello tacked on three more runs in the second inning and another during the third inning, Rondout Valley only scored one more run, which was in the sixth inning.
“It was a well-pitched game,” Monticello Coach Mike Marra said. “Pat Ripa pitched the entire game. He only gave up three hits and we turned three double plays. Our defense was really good.
“We had timely hits and smart base running, with six stolen bases,” Marra added. “We did a lot of things well.”
Bobby Wagner recorded two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Anthony Gray had two singles, an RBI and scored two runs.
“I was very pleased with Patrick [Ripa] and Bobby [Wagner] this weekend,” Marra said. “They both showed why they are the captains and their performances were awesome. Everyone knew what was at stake, we have to run the table to get in [the Section IX Tournament] and these two pitched their best games of the season.”
Marra also explained why the teams in the tournament used wood bats.
“This is our second year using wood bats,” Marra said. “The Monticello Motor Club sponsored all the pink bats for these ‘Strike Out Cancer’ games.”
With the victories over Ellenville and Rondout Valley, Monticello improved its season record to 7-9. As Marra noted, the Panthers need to win their last two regular season games to qualify for the upcoming Section IX Class A Baseball Tournament. Weather and field conditions permitting, Monticello will host the Eldred Yellowjackets at 10 a.m. tomorrow in a non-league game. At 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, Monticello will play Wallkill in a non-league game at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill.
Ellenville 10 • T-V 5
The Ellenville Blue Devils had the home team advantage as they won the coin toss before the game began.
Ellenville (6-9) tacked on runs in several innings to build a 10-0 advantage after six innings of play.
The Bears had some opportunities to cut into that lead. In the top of the fourth inning, T-V (5-8) had the bases loaded. But none of those runners were able to score because of Ellenville’s great defense.
The T-V bats came alive with two outs in the top of the seventh to lessen the deficit, but it wasn’t enough. Joe Mickelson hit an RBI single and Peter DiMilia drove in a run with a double to deep center field. With a count of two strikes on him, Tyler Lopez kept the inning going by belting a two-run double to deep left field. Fred Dumond added an RBI single for the Bears.
Ellenville pitcher Michael Yerkes ended the game with a strikeout.
“We only had one bad inning versus Monticello, they scored 13 runs during the fifth inning,” Ellenville Coach Merrill Conner said. “Today we had a great pitcher, Michael Yerkes. He had a shutout through the sixth [inning].”
Yerkes recorded 12 strikeouts while earning the win.
“We hit the ball today,” Conner said. “Zach Diehl had two big hits, a single and a double.”
Diehl recorded three RBIs and Tyler Swinden had two hits.
“Tyler TerBush pitched well for us in the first game,” T-V Coach John Rusin said. “They scattered four hits over seven innings. Their pitcher, [Rondout Valley’s] Felix DeJesus kept us off balance.
“The second game got off to a rocky start,” Rusin added. “Ellenville took advantage and played solid defense and they put up runs when they needed to. We came back in the last inning, but it was too late in the game. Unfortunately,we dug ourselves into a big hole.”