By Lori Brown
GRAHAMSVILLE Thanks to 12 strikeouts from starting pitcher George Baggatta and plenty of run support from his teammates, the Tri-Valley Bears defeated the visiting Eldred Yellowjackets, 11-5, on Thursday afternoon in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V baseball game.
With the win, T-V swept the three-game Div. V series between the teams.
Baggatta faced the minimum three batters in each of the last three innings. He threw only about six pitches in the top of the fifth and struck out the side in the top of the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Baggatta recorded his final two strikeouts of the afternoon.
The bottom of the fourth inning was the turning point of the game. With the score tied at 5-5, the Bears loaded the bases with no outs. After Eldred (0-7, 0-6 Div. V) changed pitchers, the T-V batters continued to work their counts and draw walks. Those walks led to a few runs. The key hit in the inning was a two-run single that allowed Baggatta and Tyler Lopez to score.
Entering the fifth inning, the Bears had an 11-5 advantage. And thanks to Baggatta’s fine pitching, they held that lead until the end of the game.
“It took George a few innings to get loose‚” T-V Coach John Rusin said. “In the last few innings George improved on his velocity, which was very impressive.
“George was able to stay in the game as he kept his pitch count down‚” Rusin added. “He only had six or seven pitches for both the fifth and sixth innings. We came back to tie the game then showed resilience at bat.”
T-V is scheduled to play four games this week. In addition to playing a three-game Div. V series against the Fallsburg Comets, the Bears will travel to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown to meet the Ellenville Blue Devils in a non-league game.
“We are right at the midpoint of our season‚” Rusin said. “We are getting stronger as it continues.”
Eldred Coach Joshua Santoro said, “Our starting pitcher, Ryan Wood, pitched a good game. We continued to fight, but it was hard to come- back from the six-run lead.
“I am proud of them,” Santoro continued. “They have heart. We are better than what our record reflects.”
The Yellowjackets are slated to play games against Chester and Tuxedo this week.