Opening Ceremonies at Fireman's Field

Today was a beautiful day for a ball game under partly cloudly skies dropping temperatures to the mid-80’s. Our series opener was against Williamsport, PA who won the Mid-Atlantic regional championships. Jake Dronkers had the starting role on the hill. The game started on-time after the National Anthem was sung by a wonderful young lady and the Babe Ruth oath was read.

Although TVBR pitchers take command early, it was Williamsport who started the fireworks early. The first two batters reached on basehits, followed by a walk to load the bases. The clean-up hitter sacraficed with a bunt to score their first run before Dronkers could zero-in on the umpire’s small zone, getting the next two batters out on swinging strikes.

The coaches told the boys that every team in our flight was tough, so Tri-Valley didn’t waste any time to “win back” the inning. Josh Sprugasci (CF) led-off knocking a deep single to center field, followed by an RBI triple by Casey Soltis (1B) hitting a rocket to the 375 mark in center. Dronkers (P) batting 3rd was hit in the thigh on the first pitch and trotted to first, with Noah Robbins (3B) hitting a Texas Leaguer to shallow center plating Soltis and moving Dronkers to 2nd. Ryan Anderson (LF) walked but not before seeing Dronkers and Robbins move up 1 base each on a wild pitch. With bases loaded, Austin Piscotty (2B) walked on a full-count to force another run and this paused the game for Williamsport to install a new pitcher, #16.

Despite the fresh arm, Shawn Vincent (RF) took an 0-1 pitch down the left field line for a 2 RBI single. Danny Jackson (C) struck out, but Cam Santos (SS) bunted and beat the throw for a single to load the bases again. Sprugasci returned to the batter’s box for the second time in the same inning and mashed a high pop-up to shallow center that dropped-in for an RBI single. Soltis’ second AB didn’t go as far as his first hit, hitting into a double play to end the inning. TVBR 6 – 1.

Falli Family - hosts for Ryan, Cam and Jake

The 2nd inning was more like Tri-Valley’s style over the past several games since post-season play started with Dronkers only needing 8 pitches and stellar defense retiring the side 1-2-3. #16 popped-up to Austin Piscotty (2B), followed by #23 grounding toward 2B forcing Santos to quickly range glove-side to field and throw to first for out number 2. The third hitter, #3, grounded sharply to Robbins at third who scooped the ball and fired to first for the 3rd out.

Dronkers led-off the bottom of the 2nd with a ground out to 2nd, with Robbins hitting safely to center for a single. Anderson tallied his first hit with a monster smash to deep center for an RBI triple. Piscotty followed with a nice 1-2 count RBI sacrafice to plate Anderson tagging-up from third. Vincent grounded out to short stop to end the inning. TVBR 8 – 1.

Williamsport fought back in the 3rd putting a basehit between 3rd and short by #26, followed by a fielder’s choice by #12 getting the out at 2nd. Dronkers attempted a quick pick-off throw to first, but it hit the deck and squirted by Soltis advancing the runner to 2B. Dronkers then swatted at a comebacker to the mound that knocked his glove off allowing an infield single. #6 stepped up and hit a sharp single to center for an RBI, but #27 took his hit directly into a double play – Piscotty to Santos to Soltis to end the inning.

With a new pitcher on the mound (#8) for Williamsport, DJ worked his count for a walk and Santos following with a bunt down the first baseline. With the first baseman charging and the pitcher covering 1, Santos collided with the pitcher’s foot on the plate-side of the bag causing Santos to summersault over the bag. Despite what looked to be a nasty ankle injury, Cam got up and trotted to the dugout. Sprugasci then took the box with DJ at 2nd and hit into a fielder’s choice which advanced DJ to 3rd. DJ then scored on a pitch getting past the catcher with Soltis at the plate, who eventually flied out to left. TVBR 9 – 2.

The first two hitters for Williamsport reached on consecutive basehits to start the 4th, but #25 hit a weak grounder to Dronkers who initiated another double play – Dronkers to Santos to Soltis. Dronkers then induced #8 into a 4-pitch strikeout for the third out.

Dronkers led off with another ground-out, followed by Robbins 3rd straight basehit to center. Anderson fouled out to 1st and Piscotty drew a walk but not before Robbins stole 2B and advanced to 3rd on a passed ball. With runners at 1st and 3rd, Piscotty got the sign to steal 2B in hopes of plating Robbins on the razzle dazzle, but the intentional pickle between 2nd and 1st tagged Piscotty for the 3rd out before Robbins could reach home. TVBR 9 – 2.

The top of 5 started and ended quickly with #2 hitting a pop-up to 1st and #12 hitting a dying swan fly in front of Kyle Franco (LF) who turned on his wheels running toward the infield to make the out. #6 grounded out to the 1st base hole with Dronkers covering the bag. Williamsport got the upper-hand on TVBR retiring the side 1-2-3 and ending the inning with the score 9 -2 TVBR.

David Gomez was inserted at right field to lead the 6th inning. Dronkers still on the hill approaching the mid-70’s pitch count watched #7 hit a basehit to center, followed by a strikeout to #24. #16 roped a single to left and a passed ball advanced runners to 2nd and 3rd for #22, who then hit an RBI single to left. #8 then struck out after receiving 7 pitches. #2 walked with 4 straight balls, but Dronkers found the target and struck out the last batter looking with bases loaded.

Another explosive inning for TVBR added several insurance runs. Sprugasci led off with a walk on 4 straight, which caused Williamsport to insert #22 on the bump. After his warm-ups, Sprugasci took off for 2nd but the catcher’s throw went through the shortstop and 2nd baseman into center allowing Josh to motor to 3rd. Soltis then took a 1-1 pitch high up to shallow center for an RBI basehit. Keith DeHollander stepping in for Dronkers struck out with Soltis advancing to 2nd. Robbins hit into a fielder’s choice, but saw Soltis go to 3rd. Franco’s first at-bat hit a routine grounder to short, but a hard-90 effort gave him a single and an RBI. Franco advanced to 2nd on a bad pick-off throw with Brad Pluschkell at the plate. A passed ball put Franco on 3rd, but Pluschkell grounded out to end the innging. TVBR 11 – 3.

Brian Hsu came in to close the game and made short work of Williamsport with his fresh arm. The lead-off took an 0-2 pitch to right for what appeared to be an routine basehit, but a charging Sprugasci scooped and gunned the ball to Dronkers covering first for the out and stunned #26. #6 struck out for the 2nd out and a grounder to Robbins almost saw a basehit but a sharp recovery on the bobbled ball and a good stretch by Dronkers was rewarded with the game-ending 3rd out. TVBR 11, Williamsport 3.