Published in the July 12, 2017 edition
WAKEFIELD — For the young kids who didn’t grow up watching This Week In Baseball during the 70’s and 80’s, Mel Allen had a catchphrase that all ballplayers could recite on cue, “How about that?” If Mel was still alive he would have repeated this phrase about the game between the defending Twi-League Champs, the Unknowns, and the Slappers.
The question marks took the first game of the home-and-home series 9-5 in extra innings. Adam Chanley picked up his first victory of the year going four innings while Geoff Eriksen and Brett Maloney paced the Orange attack with two hits each.
Jake Barresi led the Slapper offense with three hits and two RBI’s while starting pitcher Ryan DiBenedetto gutted out an almost complete-game performance.
The Slappers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Second baseman Smith led off with a single to center field. After an infield error and a force play at second, Barresi knocked in Smith with a base hit and Ben Tomzyk moved to third base. Kevin Patti then ripped a hit to left to score Tomzyk to make it 2-0.
The Unknowns got on the board in the top of the second inning. Kevin Murray reached on an infield error and went to second when Brendon Cobb walked. Bryan Butt followed by slicing a double to left field knocking in Murray. Cobb would score the tying run on a pass ball third strike.
The Slappers went back ahead in the third inning. Barresi led off with a double to right center field. Patti continued his hot hitting by lining a single to left plating Barresi. The Unknowns would tie the score in the fourth inning. Chanley and Sean Alexander walked, after an error on a pickoff move, they both moved to third and second base. A wild pitch allowed Chanley to score the tying run at 3-3.
The Orangemen finally broke through in the sixth inning. Chanley led off with a rocket to right center field for a double. Alexander got plunked and Luke Martin walked to load the bases. Slapper hurler DiBenedetto induced an infield flyout for the first out. Brett Maloney then patiently waited out a walk to score Chanley. Eriksen followed Maloney with a walk of his own to knock in Alexander to put the Unknowns up 5-3 and headed for the seventh inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Slappers got even. DiBenedetto crushed a triple to left center field. Tomzyk followed with a sharply hit ball up the middle for the fourth run. Tomzyk stole second and moved to third on an errant throw by the Unknown catcher. Barresi then blooped a hit over the drawn-in infield to score Tomzyk to tie the game at five all.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Orange finally got to the tiring DiBendetto. Martin got it started by tripling to left center field. Old reliable manager, Ian Power, reliving some déjà vu from last year’s final game, lifted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Martin. Maloney then reached on an error and Eriksen connected for a long triple to right field, scoring Maloney. Graham Robertson, rocking his shiny orange striped pants, hit a double to left, scoring Eriksen to push the score to 8-5. The Unknowns would add another run on a blooper by pinch hitter Michael Maloney to make it 9-5. That’s all Chanley needed as he silenced the Slapper hitters in the bottom of the eighth to give the Unknowns their third win of the Twi season. How about that?