VERONA, NY –It’s been a long, long time since the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Red Devils have seen a baseball field.
The rain plaguing the Mohawk Valley forced the Red Devils, along with many other local teams, indoors for practice and most games washed away with the rain. That is why it felt so good to VVS head coach Chad Hodkinson when Notre Dame asked him for a doubleheader.
“We haven’t played since last Thursday,” Hodkinson said. “It was all Notre Dame’s idea, and we said we would do it. Give us a parking lot, we’ll play right now.”
“We were just greedy to get outside,” Red Devils senior captain Blake Van Dreason said. “You’re limited to what you can do in the gym. We were able to finally get out today and it was a fun game.”
If that reprieve from the dreary weather made the Red Devils feel good, the scoreboard made them feel even better. Van Dreason went 2-4, and was responsible for three of VVS’ five runs in a 5-2 victory in Game One. The Red Devils were helped along by four Notre Dame errors as well, including at least one in the first four innings of play.
“For a team that’s not hitting very well like we are, we can’t afford to make errors like that,” Notre Dame head coach Carl Manganaro said. “[Starting pitcher Aidan] Maxwell was throwing a nice game today. If not for the errors, he could have been in there at least another 15-20 pitches.”
Despite the errors, the Jugglers were the first to jump on the board, as back-to-back singles to lead off Game One put starting pitcher Jacob Horodnick into an early jam. A couple of stolen bases by leadoff hitter Deondre Linder and Zach Brush made it an even worse jam before a wild pitch brought home Linder. Unfortunately, the Jugglers were unable to get any insurance runs, as Horodnick buckled down and set the next three Notre Dame batters down in order to keep the lead at just one.
The score stayed stalled at 1-0 until the third, where the Red Devils would put together back-to-back hits from leadoff hitters Andrew Wuest and Van Dreason. Those two put Maxwell into a big jam of his own, Wuest’s hit dribbling just down the third baseline and managing to stay fair. Junior outfielder Gavin Miller would make Maxwell pay, clobbering a ball back up the middle to score Wuest and Van Dreason. Miller would come around as well, as an error by the Notre Dame first baseman brought him home.
“We were looking for a first pitch fastball,” Van Dreason said. “Luckily we were able to get it and put together some runs. I feel like we had a great team win today.”
The Red Devils would add some insurance runs in the fourth inning, as a walk and an error, again at first base.
Horodnick would pitch five solid innings, only allowing one more run, on a sacrifice fly by Maxwell in the fifth inning. The senior pitcher did not have a great inning, but with the help of Van Dreason (who came in in relief for an inning), the Red Devils were able to get out of a bases-loaded jam (helped along by two walks) and only allow the one run. Horodnick would come back to close out the game, however, only allowing two hits the rest of the way to close out Game One of the doubleheader.
“Jake threw well for us today,” Hodkinson said. “We put runners on base, and we jumped on them early. It was good to get out and play ball.”
Wuest got the ball for Game Two, and the Red Devils had no trouble jumping on the Jugglers early. The scoring started from the very first batter, as ten Red Devils made their way to the plate to face Notre Dame starter Tom Roefaro. Wuest would help his own cause as well, as he, Van Dreason and Alex Kipp would all make their way around the bases before Roefaro even recorded an out. Wuest and Van Dreason would have an easy route home, as an error by the left fielder allowed the two of them to score the game’s first two runs. Kipp, Miller and Ryan Shantal made it home as well, and the home team found themselves with a comfortable 5-0 cushion after just one inning.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the Jugglers. Notre Dame would find themselves on the basepaths several times, but Wuest and Van Dreason locked up the Juggler bats just as quickly, as they left five baserunners on in as many innings. As a matter of fact, the two combined for a no-hitter, all of their baserunners coming either via walk, error or fielder’s choice.
“I was just trying to get some runs together and help out my team,” Van Dreason said of his performance.
“We’re just not hitting very well,” Manganero said. “We can’t get that big hit.”
The Red Devils could, and they would add yet another four runs in the fourth inning, sending eight batters to the plate and bringing home another four of them. “We capitalized well,” Hodkinson said. “We had a big inning.” That would be all the Red Devils would need, however, as darkness called the game after the fifth inning of game two, but the Red Devils would be joyful in picking up their eighth and ninth wins of the season.
However, Manganero admits his Jugglers have a lot more work to do if they want to get to sectionals, which could go open with just a few more rain cancellations. “We know we can make some noise in sectionals…Notre Dame always makes some noise in sectionals,” Manganero said, but he also challenged his players to perform better and break their six-game losing streak after the two-day break he gave them (Notre Dame High School has its prom this coming weekend); otherwise, there may be no sectional game to play.
“I challenged them,” Manganero said. “I told them if they keep losing, even if they open sectionals, we’re not going. They need to step up…they need to step up and be ready to go after the break.”
Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Red Devils 5, Notre Dame Jugglers 2 (Game One)
Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Red Devils 9, Notre Dame Jugglers 0 (Game Two)
Jugglers 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 7 4
Red Devils 0 0 3 1 0 1 X 5 6 0
WP: Jacob Horodnick (VVS).
LP: Aidan Maxwell (ND).
Also Pitched: Blake Van Dreason (VVS), Matt Kelly (ND).
2B: VVS — Blake Van Dreason, Alex Kipp 2, Gavin Miller.
Total LOB: VVS 8, Notre Dame 8.
Red Devils 5 0 0 4 0 9 9 1
Jugglers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
The game was called after the bottom of the fifth inning due to darkness.
WP: Andrew Wuest (VVS).
LP: Tom Roefaro (ND).
Also Pitched: Blake Van Dreason (VVS), Deondre Linder (ND).
3B: VVS — Van Dreason, Tyler Rotach.
Total LOB: VVS 6, Notre Dame 5.
Records: VVS 9-3, 7-2 TVL Pioneer; Notre Dame 4-7, 2-6 TVL Pioneer.