WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – A five-run ninth inning broke things open for the Suffolk baseball team Saturday afternoon as the Rams stretched a 4-3 lead at the top of the final frame to a 9-3 victory over No. 6 Ramapo apart of the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational.
SCORE: Suffolk 9, #6 Ramapo 3
RECORDS: Suffolk (2-0) | #6 Ramapo (0-1)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Suffolk drew blood first in the top of the second. Kevin Belskie drew a walk to lead off and moved over on a Roadrunners passed ball. After two Rams struck out swinging, Zach Grogan's single brought in the senior first baseman to tally the first mark on the scoreboard in favor of Suffolk.
The one-run edge held until the bottom of the sixth when Ramapo evened things up. Joe Maugeri opened up the inning with a single to right center and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Brandon Martinez's shot to right field, which was grabbed by Rams' right fielder Luke Ronchi, put Maugeri on third. During Connor Walsh's at bat, the Ramapo's junior outfielder took advantage of a passed ball and came home to equalize the contest at 1-all.
In the seventh the teams traded runs. Pinch runner Zack Aresty, who replaced Greg Speliotis on the bags after the junior led off with a single to right, stole second and moved to third on Ronchi's single. Aresty came home on an error by Roadrunners' hurler Cory Heitler, putting the Rams ahead, 2-1.
The lead was shortlived, however, as Ramapo responded in the next half inning. With runners on first and third, Maugeri's single to center field brought in pinch runner Evan Ochlan, who took Mario Fontannella's place on base after the catcher singled through the left side to open the inning. Ochlan's run evened the playing field at 2-2.
Suffolk moved back in front in the eighth. Walks by Matt Brenner and Belskie got the ball rolling and a sac bunt from BJ Neil moved the Rams runners into scoring position. The Roadrunners brought in a new arm, Jon Brignoni, but it was no match for the Rams. Brenner scored the tying run on Ronchi's ground out to shortstop Unglaub, before Belskie plated the go-ahead score on Grogan's double down the left line.
Ramapo tacked on another run in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded and one out, Vincenzo Sita sent a sac fly to right field to trim the margin to one, but the Rams kept things there with Grogan making the grab on Rob DeAngelis fly to left to hold onto a 4-3 lead.
The Rams distanced themselves from the Roadrunners in the ninth with a monstrous five-running showing. Brady Chant singled to right center and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Another new arm came out of Ramapo's bull pen, Tyler Curto, but the senior walked Sean Cameron to place runners on first and second. Chant and Cameron stole third and second, respectively, before Brenner brought the junior and senior in on a single. Like Brenner did just before him, Belskie sent a single into play and another walk by Curto loaded the bases.
With the bags full, Grogan unloaded his third hit of the day, a single up the middle, bringing home two Rams runners – Brenner and Belskie – before an error by center fielder Martinez allowed Curtis Tirone to come home, propelling Suffolk to a 9-3 advantage.
Looking to rally, the Roadrunners put together two singles around two strikeouts, but the Rams sealed their winning fate with a fielders choice play at second.
- Grogan paved the path offensively for the Rams with the sophomore going 3-for-5 at the plate with his first extra-base hit of the season, a double, bringing in three RBI including two in the explosive ninth.
- Brenner registered two RBI and scored two himself to go along with one hit and one walk.
- Chant, Belskie and Ronchi all had two hit days with Belskie putting together a 2-for-3 effort at the plate and crossed home three times and Ronchi recording one RBI.
- Chant, Cameron, Aresty and Tirone all plated one run for Suffolk.
- Worth Walrod earned the win on the mound for the blue-and-gold. The junior southpaw gave up one run on two hits in 6.0 innings of work with three strikeouts.
- Ryan Pordes picked up a save, throwing 3.0 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and sat down two batters.
- Four different hurlers took the hill for Ramapo. Starter Heilter went 6.1 innings, letting up two runs, one earned, on six hits and tallied eight Ks.
- Greg Westhelle suffered the setback with two runs coming in during his 1.0 innings of play.
- Suffolk defeated its second straight top 10 opponent in as many games.
- The Rams open the season 2-0 for the first time since matching that feat in the start of 2005.
- Grogan notched a career high three hits and matched career-bests in doubles (1) and RBI (3).
- In his first appearance as a Ram, Tirone recorded one run.
Suffolk is set for a 9 a.m. pitch tomorrow morning versus Montclair State.