Port's 12-and-under PAL baseball team finished its summer tournament season on an impressive note Saturday night, with a tension-filled 2-0 victory over an imposing squad from the Bronx. The win, under the lights of Glen Cove's Memorial Stadium, left the Porties with a 4-3 record in the Glen Cove tournament, for a fourth-place finish in a nine-team field.
The game, the second of a nighttime double-header, featured a strong pitching performance from Johnny ("Special K") Marx, who held the Bronx Bulls to one hit over seven innings, with 11 strikeouts. The one hit was the source of some controversy, when a Bronx batter led off the sixth with a triple to right, but the umpires ruled the opponent's big-barrel bat illegal for game use and called the batter out. The Bronx bench emptied, as coaches and fans protested the decision. On a second inspection, the umpires reversed their ruling, but the PAL defense erased the decision on the very next pitch. With the infield drawn in to protect a 1-0 lead, the Bronx clean-up hitter scorched a ground ball to first baseman Bobby ("Count Chocula") Candela, who recorded the out at first and fired home to cut down the tying run. Catcher Jake ("Smacks") Paisner blocked the plate and slapped a decisive tag on the runner to complete the dramatic double play and preserve the slim lead.
The offense was paced by the three-for-three hitting of Paisner, whose two-out single drove home Rob ("Sugar Bear") Rivera with the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth. Marx, Mark Patrick ("Total") Sauvigne and Danny ("Lucky Charms") Marmor notched two hits apiece, with Marmor's final blow, a bases-loaded rope to left in the sixth, plating an important insurance run.
Jordan ("Shredded Wheat") Caruso, Gus ("Golden Grahams") Bechtold and Bryant ("Honeycomb") Rich contributed key defensive plays, while Phil ("Trix") Mezzetta served impressively behind the plate in the game's early innings.
In the first game, Port was unable to tally off the overpowering pitching of tournament-leading HBQVB, a club from Queens, despite three impressive innings from Sauvigne, making his first start for the PAL.
In the team's first East Meadow tournament game two days earlier, Greg ("Captain Crunch") Berry hurled a complete-game masterpiece over a play-off bound Long Beach squad to even Port's record at 3-3. The 7-2 victory featured several fine defensive plays by the double-play combination of Candela at short and Joey ("Chex") Gambino at second. Offensively, a clutch 2-RBI double off the bat of Mezzetta, and timely hitting by Gambino helped to cement the lead.
Earlier in the week, the team squeaked out a rain-shortened 10-9 victory against St. Paul's, after the hot bats of the Boys from Brookville negated a 9-0 first-inning Port lead. The out-of-the-gate attack, led by Bechtold, Rich, Rivera, Jon ("Kix") Bennett and Billy "Cracklin' Oat Bran") Brown was not enough to hold off the hard-hitting St. Paul's squad. Paisner delivered a game-prevailing RBI single to break the tie in the fourth, scoring Marx, and Port was on the winning side of the score when the game was called in the sixth.
Overall, the PAL squad has been competitive against some of the toughest teams on Long Island, and has kept virtually every contest close - losing more games to rain than to competition. To date, they've tallied a respectable 9-9 record in tournament and scrimmage contests. Important, season-long contributions have also come from Tom ("Snap") Davis, John ("Crackle") Forman and Mike ("Pop") Thompson, who missed the last week of action due to illness, injury or family vacation commitments,
Next, the team looks ahead to a busy scrimmage schedule against neighboring nines from Albertson, Roslyn and Westbury.