By Connor Stalker, Blue Sox Staff Writer
Utica, N.Y.– On the back of a 5 RBI performance from Pablo Santos, the Blue Sox handily defeated the Boonville Lumberjacks 14-7. After dropping their last meeting 4-3, the Blue Sox were out for revenge and hoped starting pitcher Daly Skees could help lead the charge. Earlier in the season, Skees threw a 6-inning gem against the Lumberjacks striking out 5 and allowing 0 runs.
The Lumberjacks had the same idea in mind, handing the ball off to Alden Halfinger who worked 7 innings of solid baseball allowing only 1 earned run in his last meeting versus Skees and the Blue Sox.
Despite the seeming promise of a pitcher’s duel, fans were pleasantly surprised with the ensuing slugfest. For the Blue Sox, Skees remained untouchable pitching 4 innings of 0 run ball, while allowing 2 hits and 2 walks and striking out 2. Halfinger seemingly lost his touch, giving up 7 runs, 6 earned in 6 innings pitched.
Utica’s bats attacked Halfinger early as extra hitter Josh Skowronski dropped a single in front of the center fielder to score Ryan Rifenberg. His future teammate at Kentucky, Kyuss Garget, knocked a double in the left-center gap to plate Skowronski and give the Blue Sox a 2-0 lead. This was an exciting extra-base hit for a variety of reasons. Firstly, Gargett was the “fry guy” of the game in which an extra-base hit would net fans a fun French fry reward. Secondly, this was Gargett’s first at-bat as Blue Sock, an impressive debut, and a potential showing for success to come.
To finish off the scoring rally, right fielder Wyatt Jensen grounded a ball to Lumberjack’s shortstop Samuel Fleming that was fielded cleanly however, a poor throw allowed the Blue Sox to score another run. The Blue Sox scored two more runs in the bottom of the 5th inning as Halfinger loaded the bases before hitting both Pablo Santos and Ryan Rifenberg with pitches pushing the Blue Sox lead to 5.
Coach Doug Delett opted for his bullpen in the fifth inning and brought in Monmouth reliever Chris Killian, who struggled a bit with control but pitched a scoreless inning. In the 6th, Carlos Castillo took the mound and continued to struggle mightily, hitting two batters, striking out one, and walking another. Adam Guazzo did a solid job staunching the damage; however, he did allow a single to extra hitter Eli Snelson that scored two bringing the Lumberjacks to within striking distance.
Guazzo worked a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th, giving the Blue Sox bats a chance to strike back. Newcomer Adam Haidermota out of Florida A&M (a division one club that made the College baseball playoffs) and Norris McClure drew back-to-back walks to lead off the inning. A pitching change gave the Blue Sox a whole new look in lefty Ryan Sullivan, but Easton Brenner was not fazed, as he too drew a walk. The man of the hour Pablo Santos plated all 3 runners on a high fly double that just barely missed being a home run. Kyuss Gargett then enabled Santos to score on a well-hit sac fly, making the score 9-2 in favor of the Blue Sox.
The scoring did not stop there, as Blue Sox’s new pitcher Brandon Millan struggled with control, walking 4 and allowing 4 runs to cross the plate despite not giving up a single hit. Millan’s inability to find the strike zone let the Lumberjacks right back into the game.
Sullivan remained on the mound for the Lumberjacks in the bottom of the 8th. He worked a quick first out before walking Haidermota, and McClure, and then allowing a single to Brenner. With the bases juiced Greg Kopp ripped a line drive single to right, scoring Haidermota. Santos then singled to the shortstop scoring another run and netting him his 5th RBI of the game. A walk to Rifenberg, a sac fly by Josh Skowronski, and an error by Boonville’s catcher led to Blue Sox scoring 3 more runs bringing the total runs scored to 14-7.
Brandon Scott finished up the game strong for the Blue Sox allowing only a single run, thus the final score of the game was 14-7 in favor of the Blue Sox.
The Blue Sox improved to 4-5 on the season pushing them into a tie for 4th place with Albany. Boonville continued to struggle falling to 3-6. Santos and Brenner finished with 3 hits apiece with Brenner recording 3 runs, while Santos batted in 5. Greg Kopp, Josh Skowronski, and Kyuss Gargett also compiled multi-hit games. Eli Snelson ripped 3 hits for the Lumberjacks, while Zach Rogacki recorded their only extra-base hit of the night, a double.
The Blue Sox play again on June 14th, away, versus the Albany Dutchmen, a game that can give the Blue Sox sole possession of 4th place in the East Division with a win.