By Josh Belanger
The NVCL will begin its highly anticipated playoff tournament Wednesday night with the league-leading Night Owls entering as the top seed and apparent favorite to win the league championship.
The Night Owls (15-2) ran away with the regular season title, clinching by four games over the second-place Sliders (11-6). Powered by their juggernaut lineup, the Night Owls lead the league with 153 runs (nine runs per game) and 29 home runs - 13 of them coming off the bat of first baseman Rob Weissheier. Weissheier is tops in the league in home runs, RBI (32), runs (25) and OPS (1.940).
Lucas Donlon is one of several other weapons in the Night Owls’ murderous row of sluggers. The third baseman leads the league with 25 hits and ranks third with 22 RBI. He also added seven doubles and a home run to his campaign. Carter Cunningham is another player to watch for the Night Owls, finishing the season with seven homers and 21 RBI.
The Night Owls don’t appear to have any real weaknesses in their lineup, batting .329 with an on-base percentage of .453 as a collective unit. Not to mention, they have five players with an OPS north of 1.000. Pitchers, good luck!
The Night Owls rotation is headed by right-hander Nick Stewart (4 wins, 1.42 ERA), who has been one of the league's most consistent arms all season allowing just four runs in 19.1 innings. Randy Prosperi (2 wins, 2.80 ERA) and Jack Braley (2 wins, 2.33 ERA) have also been reliable options for the Night Owls.
It will be interesting to see how coach Sal Colangelo manages the tournament and who he decides to pitch in the quarterfinals against the 4-13 Chili Dogs. I anticipate Stewart being saved until Thursday, however as a wise coach once said, “Never save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it may rain.” Or may never come.
There may not be a lineup that can match up toe-for-toe against the Night Owls, but on any given night anything can happen. The Sliders and Hot Wings (10-7) both pose serious threats to take down the Night Owls with deep lineups and pitching staffs while the Bunt Cakes (9-8) enter the tournament playing their best ball of the season, having won five of their last seven games.
The potential to have the Bunt Cakes left-hander Jay Cassidy (3 wins, 1.27 ERA) square off against the Night Owls sets up for a thrilling semifinal game. That’s all assuming the Night Owls survive their match-up with the Chili Dogs, who have lined up Wes Glass (3 wins, 17 K) and Danny Leo (1.07 WHIP) to pitch, and the Bunt Cakes advance without throwing their ace.
Michael Grupe (3 wins, 2.21 ERA) for the Sliders and Everett Catlett (30 K, 3.56 ERA) for the Hot Wings also promises an exciting semifinal if both teams can win on Wednesday. Grupe or Garret Newsome (18 K, 2.26 ERA) will likely take the mound for the Sliders while Kenny Lippman (21 K, 1.05 WHIP) will likely start for the Hot Wings in the quarterfinals. The Hot Wings do have the option to pitch Catlett, who last threw 56 pitches over 2.2 innings on Saturday.
In terms of the rest of the field, the Gators (5-10-1), Yard Dogs (6-11) and Rough Riders (5-10-1) all have what it takes to upset their higher-seeded opponents and advance to Thursday’s semifinals. Hunter Bell (0.88 WHIP) and Antonio Menendez (21 K, 2.33 ERA) will both likely pitch for the Gators and Yard Dogs respectively, presenting tough obstacles for their opponents. The Gators and Yard Dogs also combined for four homers and 19 runs in their final game of the season.
The Yard Dogs will lean on the league’s leading hitter Michael Ludowig (3 HR, .489 BA) and Brady Drawbaugh (6 HR) to pace the offense against the Sliders, who have allowed the fewest runs this season (67). Eric Lingebach (5 HR, 28 RBI) and Justin Taylor (2 HR, .457 BA) will need to continue their production for the Rough Riders if they are to upset the Hot Wings.
The Rough Riders ace O’Kelley McWilliams (3 wins, 19 K, 2.04 ERA) pitched Monday night and will most likely not be available for tomorrow’s quarterfinal games. Rough Riders coach Tom Verbanic will likely lean on Brendan Albrittain (14 K, 1.08 WHIP) and Ryan Dudak (16.1 IP) for the bulk of their innings on Wednesday.
In the final day of the regular season, all four games were decided by one run including an extra-innings thriller between the Gators and Chili Dogs and a walk-off win for the Night Owls. Along with the back-and-forth contests, yesterday also saw plenty of power with nine home runs being smashed. If the last day of the regular season was a taste of what we are to see during the playoffs, you can count me in for the full course and dessert.
The NVCL playoffs will be more of what we have been seeing all month long: competitive baseball featuring power bats, electric arms and incredible defense. If you cannot make it out to Madison High School or Waters Field in Vienna, you can tune in to watch a live stream of all the games at nvcl.sportschannel.media. The playoff tournament will be single elimination with the championship game being played as a nine-inning game. The full schedule is listed below:
Wednesday, July 29th - Quarterfinals
- G1- Chili Dogs (8) vs Night Owls (1) at 4:30 pm at Waters Field
- G2- Gators (5) vs Bunt Cakes (4) at 7:30 pm at Waters Field
- G4- Rough Riders (6) vs Hot Wings (3) at 4:30 pm at Madison HS (may get moved to 2 pm)
- G3- Yard Dogs (7) vs Sliders (2) at 7:30 pm at Madison HS (may get moved to 5 pm)
* If lights aren't working at Madison HS by Tuesday evening, we will move games up to 2 pm and 5 pm at MHS
* Higher seed is home team
Thursday, July 30th - Semifinals
- G5- 4:30 pm at Waters- Winner of G1 vs Winner of G2
- G6- 7:30 pm at Waters- Winner of G3 vs Winner of G4
Saturday, August 1 - Championship
- 11 am at Waters- Winner of G5 vs Winner of G6 (9 innings)
* Regular extra inning rules for Championship Game only. No international rules.
Photo of Rob Weissheier courtesy of Fred Ingham
By Josh Belanger
Austin Gauthier (Hofstra) delivered a game-winning, walk-off base hit in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Night Owls a 9-8 victory over the Bunt Cakes yesterday at Waters Field.
Reliever Jarrod Schmitz (Marymount) sent the game to extra innings with a strikeout after coming on for the Night Owls with the game tied and two outs in the seventh. In the eighth, both teams would place runners in scoring position to start the inning. Schmitz proceeded with two more strikeouts to set the table for the Night Owls win in the bottom half.
Tyler Gauthier (undecided) started on the mound for the Night Owls and allowed three runs on five hits over three innings. Randy Prosperi (William & Mary) came on in the fourth after the Night Owls took a 4-3 lead and tossed two scoreless innings. The Night Owls extended their lead with four runs in the fifth on two-run homers from Aiden Tierney (Longwood) and Garrett Riley (Potomac State).
The combination of Matt Thomas (William & Mary), Lucas Donlon (Virginia Tech) and Rob Weissheier (Hofstra) have done serious damage against league pitching all season long, batting a combined .440 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI. Last night, the Bunt Cakes held the mighty trio to just one hit, but the Night Owls found a way to manufacture runs early and lean on some different players for production late.
“You are not always going to hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Night Owls manager Sal Colangelo said. “Tonight we weren’t hitting the ball out of the ballpark and we had to really gear down and execute and we did and it went our way.”
Trailing 8-3 heading into the sixth inning, the Bunt Cakes rallied for five runs against Prosperi, who entered the game leading the league in WHIP. Jay Cassidy (Christopher Newport) drove in a run on a double while Malik Kabra (William & Mary) and Fitz Halloran (Lynchburg) each had an RBI in the sixth. In the seventh, Nathan Cmeyla (Dartmouth) hit a clutch, two-run home run off the scoreboard in left field to tie the game at eight.
Cmeyla led the way offensively for the Bunt Cakes with a 3-for-3 effort and three RBI. Cassidy, Bobby Lietzel (Marymount) and Alex Lemery (Marymount) also each had multiple hits as the Bunt Cakes out-hit the opposition 12-to-10 but conversely allowed 13 free passes on walks and hit-by-pitches.
The Night Owls (12-2) will complete their suspended game from Tuesday against the Yard Dogs tonight at Waters Field while the Bunt Cakes (7-7) prepare for a doubleheader against the Sliders on Saturday.
In other league action...the Rough Riders (6-7-1) crushed the Chili Dogs (4-10), 12-2, behind a three-run home run from Colin Troilo (Eastern Mennonite) and a pair of RBI from Brendan Albrittain (Radford). O’Kelly McWilliams (Wofford) earned the win after allowing one run on two hits over three innings. Albrittain and Ethan Marotske (Lynchburg) each tossed a scoreless inning in relief for the Rough Riders. Brady Harju (James Madison) homered in the loss for the Chili Dogs...Both 7:30 games between the Sliders (8-6) and Yard Dogs (4-9) and Hot Wings (7-6) and Gators (5-8-1) were postponed.
Photo of Austin Gauthier by Josh Belanger
By Andrew Cooney
Ben Williamson (William & Mary) homered twice and Garrett Newsome (William & Mary) threw 4.2 innings of one hit ball to lead the Sliders over the Chili Dogs in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader at Waters field.
Williamson’s first home run was a solo shot in the third inning that extended the Sliders lead to two. He struck again in the top of the seventh for a two-run shot, putting the game out of reach of the Chili Dogs as they fell 5-1.
“Ben did a great job especially on the first home run that he hit of staying back on that ball,” Sliders coach Tony Felt said. “It was definitely an off-speed pitch and he stayed back on it as long as he could.”
Williamson finished game one 3-for-4 and leads the team with three home runs, nine RBI and 12 runs scored. Connor Baine (George Mason) also had two hits for the Sliders.
Dylan Weber (Christopher Newport) and Braden Mack (Cornell) did not allow a hit in 2.1 relief innings to shut the door on the Chili Dogs. Nicholas Ortega (Elizabethtown College) took the loss for the Chili Dogs, giving up two earned runs on five hits over 3.1 innings. Kyle Schofield (Frederick CC) had the lone hit for the Chili Dogs.
The Sliders (8-4) will take on the first-place Night Owls on Monday at 4:30 at Madison High School, followed by the Chili Dogs (4-8) facing off with the Hot Wings at 7:30.
In other league action...The Sliders (8-4) nipped the Chili Dogs (4-8) in game two of yesterday’s doubleheader, 8-6. Scott Morgan (George Mason) had two hits and two RBI for the Sliders. Jack Fitzgerald (George Mason), Michael Morgan (JMU) and Blake Fisher (Lynchburg) all had multiple hits for the Chilil Dogs… The Gators (4-7-1) defeated the Rough Riders (5-6-1) in game one, 7-3, behind strong pitching performances from Hunter Bell (Harford CC), Joe Vogatsky (JMU) and Josh Gjormand (Lynchburg), who combined for 11 strikeouts. Drew Steig (George Mason) led the Gator offense with three RBI. O’Kelly McWilliams (Wofford) was stellar in the loss for the Rough Riders, not allowing a hit over 4.2 innings. In game two, both clubs tied 14-14 after eight innings. Eric Lingebach (Christopher Newport) had two home runs and eight RBI for the Rough Riders. Nic Kent (UVA) and Thomas Trinca (George Mason) each had four RBI for the Gators… The Bunt Cakes (6-6) took both games from the Yard Dogs (4-8), 3-1 and 6-0 respectively. In game one, Alex Lemery (Marymount) and Ben Thomas (Ferrum) had multiple hits for the Bunt Cakes while Jack Cone (William & Mary) and Eddie Eissert (NC State) combined on the mound to give up three hits and strike out five. In game two, Lemery and Will Bean (West Virginia) paced the Bunt Cakes offense with a homer apiece and two RBI. Jay Cassady (Christopher Newport) continued to pitch well for the Bunt Cakes, earning his second win of the season after tossing 4.1 scoreless innings... The first-place Night Owls (10-2) took game one against the Hot Wings (6-6), 15-4. Rob Weissheier (Hofstra) and Austin Gauthier (Hofstra) combined for three home runs while the Night Owls banged out 15 hits. Randy Prosperi (William & Mary) pitched four scoreless innings in relief, striking out seven. The Hot Wings won game two, 9-5, behind Conor Hartigan (JMU) and Pete Nielsen (GMU, who each had three hits and combined for 7 RBI. Donovan Burke (JMU) provided a strong start on the mound for the Hot Wings, going 3.1 innings with five strikeouts. Weissheier added his third home run of the day to increase his league leading total to 10.
Photo of Ben Williamson by Josh Belanger.
By Josh Belanger
Zach Buck homered and sparked an eight-run sixth inning for the Hot Wings that led to a 12-1 victory over the Bunt Cakes last night at Waters Field.
Buck (Haverford) hit back-to-back home runs with Pete Nielsen (George Mason) to give the Hot Wings the lead in the second inning. Hitting in the sixth and seventh spots in the order, Nielsen and Buck went a combined 5-for-6, scored three times and drove in three runs. Bryce Johnson (Camp CC) also was productive at the bottom of the order for the Hot Wings with two hits and a pair of RBI.
“Anytime you can get production one through 10, that’s a good recipe for a win,” Hot Wings coach Morgan Spencer said. “A lot of these guys were high school players that missed their entire senior year that are seeing some pretty good college pitching, so there is always a learning curve but hope we are getting going at the right time.”
Left-hander Everett Catlett (Georgetown) started for the Hot Wings and allowed one run on three hits over three plus innings. Catlett also added five more strikeouts to his season total, which now sits at a league-best 20.
Ryan Dooley (VMI) added to the Hot Wings lead in the third with an RBI triple. The Bunt Cakes answered with a run of their own in the fourth after two hits and a fielder’s choice RBI from Nathan Cmyela (Dartmouth). In the fifth inning, Johnson delivered a sac fly to extend the Hot Wings lead 4-1.
Buck's third hit of the game would score a run and start a rally in the sixth inning for the Hot Wings. Jake Wortman followed with a pinch-hit bases-clearing double and later scored on another RBI from Johnson. Kyle Novak (James Madison) then put the game out of reach with a three-run home run to cap the inning.
“Our guys are starting to come together,” Spencer said. “Earlier in the season our guys were a little long and maybe trying to see how far they could hit the ball. Lately, our guys have been short and using the middle of the field. Hopefully we are getting hot at the right time.”
Catlett earned the win for the Hot Wings as Kenny Lippman (Denison), Ethan Snyder (William & Mary) and Jack Slade (Harford CC) did not allow a run in relief over the final four innings.
The Hot Wings (5-5) head into their weekend doubleheader with the 9-1 Night Owls having won two straight games while the Bunt Cakes (4-6) will look to snap their three-game losing streak against the Yard Dogs.
In other league action...Matt Thomas (William & Mary) and Lucas Donlon (Virginia Tech) each drove in a pair of runs while Nick Stewart (James Madison) allowed one hit and one run over 3.1 innings to earn his third win of the season in the Night Owls (9-1) 9-3 win over the Gators (3-7)…The Sliders (6-4) beat the Rough Riders (5-5), 12-4, behind a grand slam from Kyle Lyons (Bucknell) and a two-run blast from Tyler Casagrande (Arizona). Michael Grupe (Virginia Tech) got the win after allowing four unearned runs on five hits over 3.1 innings… The Yard Dogs (4-6) pounded 18 hits and beat the Bunt Cakes (4-6), 19-8. Jonathan Rivard (Virginia Tech), Alec Roberts (Allen CC), Brady Drawbaugh (Mount St. Mary’s) and Jaden Keuhner (Washington & Lee) each homered for the Yard Dogs.
Photo of Zach Buck by Josh Belanger
By Andrew Cooney
Justin Taylor was a top selection in the draft for this year’s inaugural NVCL season, and he proved why that was the case in the Rough Riders 11-9 victory over the Bunt Cakes last night at Waters Field.
In just his first week back from a shoulder injury, Taylor (Cornell) threw out a runner at the plate from center field, launched his second home run of the season and had the game-tying hit with a two-run single in a six-run seventh inning for the Rough Riders. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and propelled the Rough Riders to sole possession of second place behind the league-leading Night Owls.
“When [Taylor] came back he had four hits in a row to start,” said Rough Riders manager Tom Verbanic. “He is that guy and when he walks out here you see he’s a freak athlete and he just changes everything.”.
Jay Cassady (Christopher Newport) provided a remarkable start on the mound for the Bunt Cakes, striking out seven over five innings and only surrendering one earned run on two hits. The Bunt Cakes appeared to have the game in control after Alex Lemery (Marymount) smacked a two-run double to give the Bunt Cakes a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning.
However, the Rough Riders struck back with six runs in the top of the seventh on RBI base hits from Taylor, Drew Caroline (Christopher Newport), John Heltebran (Louisburg) and Justin Carboni (Pennsylvania).
The Bunt Cakes scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to push the game to extra innings where a three-run homer from Thomas Latham (Holy Cross) proved to be the deciding blow for the Rough Riders. Latham has now driven in seven runs in his last four games.
“One thing you know, especially with these kids, is that you’re never really out of a game so to speak,” said Verbanic. “All of a sudden you’re in a game, you could be down six and be in a game in a heartbeat.”
The Rough Riders (5-3) will take on the Chili Dogs today at Madison High School while the Bunt Cakes (4-4) will face the first-place Night Owls at Waters Field.
In other league action...Jack Hoeymans (undecided) and Connor Baine (George Mason) both had two hits and combined for three RBI to lead the Sliders (4-4) to a 6-1 win over the Hot Wings (3-5). Garrett Newsome (William & Mary) and Michael Schultz (College of Charleston) combined to throw seven innings of five hit ball, giving up one run. Ryan Dooley (VMI) had two hits and an RBI for the Hot Wings… Nicholas Ortega (Elizabethtown College) and Eric Parnell (Mary Washington) combined to strike out five in the Chili Dogs (3-5) 4-1 win over the Gators (3-5). Will Salva (Roanoke) and Trey Haley (Case Western Reserve) led the Chili Dogs offense with two hits apiece. Shane Dux (Hamilton) chipped in two hits for the Gators as Colby Shriner (Christopher Newport) was tacked with the loss… Yareb Martinez (Georgetown) had the game-winning hit in extra innings as the Night Owls (7-1) nipped the Yard Dogs (3-5) 9-8. Ryan McElligott (Marymount) started for the Night Owls and went four innings, giving up two hits. Michael Ludowig (Wake Forest), Caden DeCroo (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Jonathan Rivard (Virginia Tech) and Dylan Saale (Longwood) all had multiple hits in the loss.
Photo of Thomas Latham by Josh Belanger
By Josh Belanger
Jack Hoeymans hit a two-run home run in the second inning and provided an insurance run in the seventh with his third hit of the game to power the Sliders to a 3-1 win over the first-place Night Owls last night at Waters Field.
Hoeymans (undecided) went up the middle with all three of his hits, featuring a balanced approach that has helped him be one of the Sliders’ most productive hitters to start the season. The McLean native enters the weekend now tied with Ben Williamson (William & Mary) for the team lead in hits, home runs and RBI.
“[Hoeymans] is a kid looking for a place to play and he has had some of the best at-bats I have seen all year, consistently in all five games,” said coach Rob Hahne. “I’d say every time he is up to the plate I feel pretty confident.”
The Night Owls entered the night undefeated in league play and ranking first in several offensive categories including runs, batting average and home runs. Starter Garret Newsome (William & Mary) and relievers Michael Schultz (College of Charleston) and Braden Mack (Cornell) held the Night Owls to just one run on five hits.
Schultz earned the win after coming on in relief of Newsome with two outs in the third and proceeded to allow just one hit over 3.2 innings, inducing seven ground ball outs. Newsome finished the game with five strikeouts over two innings while Mack needed just 22 pitches to record the final four outs.
“They did a good job of mixing it up and keeping those guys off-balanced. They pumped strikes when they needed to and had great command,” Hahne said. “That’s a really good offense and those guys did a really good job coming after them.”
Lucas Donlon (Virginia Tech) delivered a first inning RBI to give the Night Owls an early lead, but would be the only extra-base hit for his team. Donlon has now driven in a run in each of the Night Owls five games, extending his season total to nine.
Danny Checkosky (Roanoke) took the loss after allowing two runs on two hits over three innings. Reliever Jack Braley (Christopher Newport) tossed two scoreless innings in relief with four strikeouts for the Night Owls.
The Sliders (2-3) will take on the Gators in a doubleheader Saturday at Waters Field while the Night Owls (4-1) will face the Rough Riders Saturday in a twin bill at Madison High School.
In other league action…Thomas Latham (Holy Cross) drove in a pair of runs and O’Kelley McWilliams (Wofford) struck out six over 2.2 innings to lead the Rough Riders (4-1) to a 3-2 win over the Yard Dogs (2-3). Kyle Lewis (Marymount) also had a strong outing for the Rough Riders, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings in relief…The Hot Wings (2-3) beat the Chili Dogs (1-4), 4-0, behind a pair of RBI from Trevon Dabney (James Madison) and a two-run home run from Avery Neaves (Chesapeake). Donovan Burke (James Madison) started on the mound and struck out four over three scoreless frames...Eddie Eissert (NC State) went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI while Jack Cone (William & Mary) reached base all three times from the lead-off spot to pace the Bunt Cakes (3-2) to an 8-0 win over the Gators (2-3). Nathan Cmeyla (Dartmouth) also drove in a pair of runs for the Bunt Cakes. Eissert and Jay Cassady (Christopher Newport) combined for six scoreless innings on the mound, allowing just three hits.
Photo of Jack Hoeymans by Josh Belanger
By Andrew Cooney
In a back and forth game last night at Madison High School, the Gators were able to overcome a late rally from the Yard Dogs to secure a 9-6 win and post their second straight victory after starting the season 0-2.
“It was a good team win,” Gators manager Scott Rowland said. “We’re showing some discipline at the plate. We’re not chasing pitches, we’re making them throw strikes.”
Cameron Lane (Lynchburg), Scout Knotts (Shippensburg) and Shane Dux (Hamilton) paced the Gators offensively, registering two hits apiece, including a big go-ahead two-run double from Knotts in the top of the seventh and a three-run homer from Lane earlier in the game, staking the Gators to a 5-1 lead.
“I was looking for something straight and got ahead 2-0,” Lane said. “Figured I was going to get another fastball, I’d seen two in a row and just tried and get my timing so I could get a good swing off and I got a good pitch to hit.”
Hunter Bell (Harford CC) got the start for the Gators and allowed an unearned run over 2.2 innings, battling through a couple of defensive miscues in the first two innings. “I thought [Bell] was great,” Rowland added. “We’re really a good defensive team and we didn’t play real well defensively today so he had to up his pitch count. I thought he was outstanding and he rebounded. He shut it down, which was important and kept us out of that big inning.”
Jonathan Rivard (Virginia Tech) continued to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-4 with a two-run double that tied the game at six and capped a four-run fifth inning for the Yard Dogs. Caden DeCroo (Indiana University of PA) and Brendan Hall (Washington University (MO) also had RBI hits in the inning.
Antonio Menendez (Wake Forest) got the start on the bump for the Yard Dogs and threw three innings of one-hit ball, striking out two. Cameron Taylor (UMBC) was charged with the loss, surrendering four runs over 2.1 innings.
The Gators (2-2) will look to continue their winning streak against the Bunt Cakes (2-2) while the Yard Dogs (1-3) will look to snap their two-game skid against Rough Riders (3-1) on Thursday at Madison High School.
In other league action…the Rough Riders (3-1) beat the Hot Wings (1-3), 10-4, behind a grand slam from Eric Lingebach (Christopher Newport) and a three-run homer from Justin Carboni (Pennsylvania). Jake Berry (University of Virginia) allowed one run over three innings while Brendan Albrittain (Radford) tossed two no-hit innings in relief to close out the game for the Rough Riders… Michael Grupe (Virginia Tech) threw four scoreless innings followed by two innings of scoreless relief from Brody Mack (William & Mary) while Ben Williamson (William & Mary) went 2-for-3 with a grand slam as the Sliders (1-3) used a 10-run third inning to beat the Bunt Cakes (2-2), 12-1…The Night Owls (4-0) continued their winning ways beating the Chili Dogs (1-3), 11-6, behind two home runs from Rob Weissheier (Hofstra) and three RBI from Lucas Donlon (Virginia Tech). Ethan Semones also homered and made a couple of nice defensive plays for the Night Owls. Ben Koomey (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) hit his second home run in three games, tying the game with a grand slam in the fifth inning. Kyle Schofield (Frederick CC) also homered in the loss for the Chili Dogs.
Photo of Cameron Lane by Josh Belanger.
By Josh Belanger
Michael Ludowig and Antonio Menedez (Wake Forest) took little time making their presence known for the Yard Dogs, leading their team to a 1-0 victory over the Sliders in the Northern Virginia Collegiate League season opener last night at Waters Field.
Ludowig sparked the Yard Dogs offense in the first inning with a one-out triple to left field off Sliders starter Adam Fischer (William & Mary) and later came around to score on a base hit from Caden DeCroo (Indiana University of PA). Menendez, who started on the mound for the Yard Dogs, allowed just one hit and one walk over three innings with five strikeouts.
The lone run for the Yard Dogs would hold up as the game deciding run as Menendez, Matt Howat (William & Mary) and Dylan Saale (Longwood) shut out the Sliders over a combined effort. Both Menendez and Howat featured dominating breaking pitches that were commanded for strikes and utilized as put away pitches when needed.
“My go-to pitch was my slider,” Menendez said. “Some of these guys I have never seen before so I had to go to what I do best and my defense did a really good job behind me.”
Howat also held the Sliders to one hit in his outing that lasted 3.1 innings.
“Howat did a really good job with his breaking ball. That is his go-to pitch and he can throw it in any count and throw it for a strike. Same thing with Antonio. When he pitches to contact and lets our defense work he is pretty tough to beat,” said Yard Dogs coach Rusty Smith.
In the top of the seventh, Ludowig made a game-saving catch over his shoulder in deep centerfield to rob Tyler Casagrande (Arizona) of extra bases to lead off the inning. The Sliders would later load the bases after three straight two-out hits but fail to bring home the equalizing run.
Michael Grupe (Virginia Tech) came on in relief for Fischer, who allowed one run in two innings. The Hokies right-hander tossed three scoreless innings, allowing three runners on two walks and a hit. Braden Mack (Cornell) pitched a scoreless sixth for the Sliders.
Ben Williamson (William & Mary) led the way offensively for the Sliders with three of the team’s five hits.
The Yard Dogs (1-0) will be up next against the Chili Dogs (0-1) at Madison High School while the Sliders (0-1) will look to rebound against the Rough Riders (1-0) at Waters Field on Saturday.
In other league action…the Hot Wings (1-0) took down the Gators (0-1), 8-3, behind a pair of home runs and a combined six RBI from Pete Nielsen and Trevon Dabney. Avery Neaves also homered in the win for the Hot Wings. Nic Kent went deep and scored twice for the Gators…Carson Swank went 3-for-4 with three runs and Eric Lingebach drove in three behind five scoreless relief innings from Brendan Albrittain and Ryan Dudak to lead the Rough Riders (1-0) over the Chili Dogs (0-1), 5-2. Michael Morgan hit a two-run home run for the Chili Dogs...The Night Owls (1-0) used a seven-run third inning and a 3-for-3 night from Matt Thomas to beat the Bunt Cakes (0-1), 12-2. Night Owls starter Nick Stewart allowed one hit over 3.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
Photo of Michael Ludowig by Josh Belanger.