MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The 12-and-under Somers Red Storm faced the Mahopac Indians Saturday, June 25 in their first meeting of the season in the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League. As both teams prepare to travel to Cooperstown in two weeks, the Red Storm escaped with a 6-4 victory at Crane Road Field in Mahopac.

Somers went quietly in the top of the first, but in the bottom half Mahopac’s Matt Bilichuk reached on an error in the Indians’ first at bat of the game. Mahopac loaded the bases after two more walks, and on the third straight, a walk to pitcher Andrew Brower, Bilichuk scored. Then, Somers starter Ben Ericson struck out the next two batters and induced a line out to leave three Mahopac baserunners stranded.

“A few of our kids have really stepped up with their pitching ability,” Somers head coach D.J. Colella said. “We’ve had kids step up and really do a nice job for us so that has made a big difference, but also being more patient at the plate.”

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In the top half of the second, Somers added a few runs of its own. Zach Yusaf got things started with a leadoff single and scored on a Joe Harkins groundout. Then a two-out Jeremy Daly single scored two runs — Kieran Gill and Derek Tan — to put the Red Storm ahead 3-1.

In the third, both teams tacked on two more runs to make the score 5-3 Red Storm, a lead they would never give up.

Ericson recorded his first hit of the game in the fourth. He then advanced on an error and a stolen base, scoring on a Jett Colella two-out single.

In the bottom of the fifth, Mahopac’s Mark Dusovic started the inning with a leadoff single and came in to score with a two-out single from Joe Vitanza.

It was not just the hot bats for the Red Storm, but the defense that made the difference. An 8-1-3 relay starting with Tan in center field cut down a Mahopac player at the plate and a run-down out prevented another Indian runner from scoring. The game ended on a 6-4-3 double play started by Aiden Walsh.

“As a matter of fact in practice (Friday) night we specifically worked on a cutoff from the outfield to the pitcher to home,” Colella said. “And we were working on double plays and pickoffs and all three of those things happened in the game and they executed all three, which I believe made the complete difference in today’s game.”

Ericson recorded the victory after three strong innings, and Gill came on in relief for two innings. Yusaf came in for the save in the sixth for the Red Storm and after two walks, recorded a strikeout and induced the game ending double play.

Mahopac head coach John Wolf has seen plenty of improvement from his team.

“This is just our second year in the travel program and it’s a night and day difference,” Wolf said. “When we first started, and even again in the spring this year, we weren’t hitting the ball very well and as time goes we’ve just been getting better and better. I think if these kids just keep hustling and trying we’ll be fine.”

Both teams leave for the Cooperstown tournament on June 9 with Somers going to the Dreams Park and Mahopac going to All-Star Village.