By Ted Waddell
JEFFERSONVILLE The home team was down 12-3 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, but battled back to within three runs (12-9) after their turn at the plate in the sixth inning.
But luck smiled on the visiting James I. O’Neill Raiders as they defeated the Sullivan West Bulldogs, 14-10, in Monday’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV baseball game under a blistering sun at Lions’ Field in Jeffersonville.
The Raiders romped to a 11-0 advantage until the Bulldogs posted three runs in the bottom of the second inning to make it a 11-3 ballgame.
O’Neill sent a runner across the plate in the top of the third, and then hit a dry spell offensively while SW (5-2, 0-1 Div. IV) scored four runs in the fourth and sent two runners home in the fifth to shave the Raiders’ lead to three runs.
O’Neill scored two runs in the top of the sixth to extend its advantage to five runs at 14-9.
Despite having a golden offensive opportunity in the final frame, the Bulldogs only sent one runner home.
Then there was the Bulldogs’ three-run homer that wasn’t.
In the bottom of the third inning, Austin Sauer pegged a long ball down the left field line. But after everybody rounded the bases, the umpires ruled it was a foul ball, and SW scorekeeper Debbie Owen had to use her eraser to remove the round tripper from the scorebook.
SW loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning, but only managed to score one run.
With two runners on base and no outs, the next two batters struck out and popped out, respectively.
Jeremy DeGori reached on a single and Sauer took his base the hard way by getting nicked by a pitch, which sent Eric Minton across the plate.
The final swing of the game for SW was a long fly ball to center field for the final out.
On the mound for O’Neill was Billy Woska, who pitched four innings, and closer Joel Martinez, who pitched the last three innings.
SW sent three hurlers to the hill. Ryan Alsdorf faced 16 batters in two innings, Sauer confronted 19 Raiders in five frames and Eric Minton challenged five batters in the final two innings.
Big hits for the Raiders included a three-run homer in the top of the second inning by Marco Spisso and a two-run homer by Randall Phillips in the top of the sixth.
“They are underclassmen, so that’s a real big thing for us,” O’Neill Coach Bristin Marks said. “It was a hard fought game and I’m happy we came out with it.”
SW’s noteworthy hits included a triple by Mark Tesseyman in the bottom of the fourth inning and doubles by DeGori in the second and R.J. Rosa in the fourth.
“We fell behind early, but we didn’t give up our guys didn’t roll over and play dead,” SW Coach Kurt Scheibe Jr. said. “We cut it to 12-9, and then they had a two-run homer.
“We loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with the trying run at the plate and it ended there,” Scheibe said. “You can’t make that many mistakes early and expect to win games.”