VERONA – Vernon-Verona-Sherrill’s Davey Moffett and Dewey Roden are as good a 1-2 tandem as there is in Section 3 baseball.
During Tuesday’s Tri Valley League home game against Rome Free Academy, the pair displayed the talent that’s earned them Division 1 scholarships.
Moffett, a Manhattan commit, had a two-run double to deep left-center field in the first inning, and then hit one about 10 feet farther for a two-run homer in the second inning as the Red Devils exploded for eight early runs in a 9-1 victory at Oliver Park. Roden, headed to UMass-Lowell, had two doubles, two walks and pitched two shutout innings as VVS (5-0, 7-1) remained unbeaten in the TVL.
“We said before the game we wanted to see the pace of their pitches and have the ball get by us a few times early,” VVS head coach Chad Hodkinson said. “Then we got pitches to handle and did damage with balls in the middle of the zone.”
After leadoff Nate Palmer and Roden drew back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the first, Moffett battled and drilled a high fly ball to the left-center fence for a two-run double. Zach Nell, Blake VanDreason and Ryan Shantal added RBI hits to extend the Red Devils’ lead to 5-0 after the first.
Roden quickly shut down the RFA bats in the top of the second, and the leadoff trio was back at it again to start the bottom of the inning. Palmer led off with a double to right center and came around to make it 6-0 as Roden lined a double down the right-field line.
Moffett followed by bombing another high fly to left-center for a two-run homer and an 8-0 VVS lead. The senior slugger’s double traveled right to the 350-foot sign and the homer was about 10 feet farther to clear the fence for his first homer of the season.
Moffett had different approaches on his first two at-bats, but received nearly identical results.
“The first one was 3-2 (count) and I was trying to protect the zone,” Moffett said. “I think it was a little down, probably a ball, but I was protecting the plate and got a good piece of it. The homer was a perfect pitch and I put on a good swing and crushed it.”
Hodkinson moved both Roden and Moffett up in the lineup this season after they batted in the third and cleanup last season.
“It helps when you have Dewey and Davey,” Hodkinson said. “I moved them up in the lineup this year because in sectionals last year they were on deck. If we didn’t have a real leadoff hitter in Nate (Palmer), I’d bat them 1-2. We want to get them as many at-bats as we can.”
Moffett’s homer knocked RFA starter Raven Fallon from the game as head coach Evan Howard went to sophomore Justin Swavely in relief. It was the worst possible start for the Black Knights.
“Both those big guys can really swing it,” Howard said. “We knew we couldn’t walk kids in front of them and we walked the first two batters and (Moffett) hits a double and we’re down 2-0 immediately. We did what we knew we couldn’t do today.”
Swavely did a nice job in relief for the Black Knights (0-3, 0-7). The sophomore pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out two, but RFA’s bats couldn’t get anything going against the Red Devils’ strong staff.
A.J. Farina earned the win by pitching two shutout innings after relieving Roden to start the third inning. Zach Nell, VanDreason and Jacob Horodnick each pitched an inning of relief to close things out.
VVS extended its lead to 9-0 in the bottom of the sixth as Bryce Cousin singled home Nell.
The Black Knights avoided the shutout with a run in the seventh as Cole Donnelly singled to lead off the inning and came around to score on an RBI groundout by Logan DeLutis.
Donnelly, DeLutis, Aaron Simons and Ben Minicozzi each singled for the young Black Knights. RFA has just a few experienced varsity players and Howard is working to find the right mix.
“We have a lot of new guys, but that’s no excuse,” Howard said. “We have a lot of work to do and we have to get better every day. We need to battle and grind and eventually we’ll put it together.”
It wasn’t all perfect for the Red Devils, who have big goals this season after two disappointing early exits in sectionals the past two seasons.
“It was nice to get ahead early, but we need to be more consistent in putting up runs and not sitting on leads,” Roden said. “We have to get better and be more consistent with our fielding and hitting. We are nowhere near our potential right now.”
Hodkinson agreed keeping intensity throughout the game is vital.
“We talked about getting a couple of tack-on runs,” Hodkinson said. “It doesn’t need to be a crooked number, but being able to put up 1 here and 1 there really helps.”
RFA hosts Central Valley Academy Thursday, while the Red Devils continue a busy stretch Wednesday with a home tilt against New Hartford.
The busy schedule is welcomed by Moffett and the Red Devils.
“We are always trying to get better,” Moffett said. “With the weather being this spring, we have games condensed into a few weeks, but we love playing every day. We can’t get enough of it.”
VVS 9, RFA 1
RFA 000 000 1—1 4 1
VVS 530 001 X—9 11 0
Pitching: VVS, Dewey Roden (2 IP), A.J. Farina (2), Zach Nell (1), Blake VanDreason (1) and Jacob Horodnick (1). W-Farina. RFA, Raven Fallon (1), Justin Swavely (3), Tyler Samuels (2). L-Fallon. 2B-VVS, Roden (2), Davey Moffett, Ryan Palmer, Blake VanDreason, Ryan Shantal. HR-VVS, Moffett.
Records: VVS 5-0, 7-1; RFA 0-3, 0-7.