CROSS RIVER, N.Y. — Led by a complete-game effort from Joe Vetrano, who struck out 12, Lakeland’s baseball squad defeated host John Jay-Cross River 3-2 on April 11.
“I felt great today before the game,” Vetrano said. “I had a good feel for all of my pitches before stepping on the mound and I think that impacted my performance.”
Evan Berta, who went 2 for 3, broke a 2-2 tie with a game-winning double, that knocked in Vetrano, who doubled himself. That came in the seventh inning off Joe Biancone, who struck out six Hornets in two innings of relief.
“It was my first time facing Biancone,” Berta said. “I had seen him pitch in Arizona in January. We were both at the Under Armour Pre-Season All-American event. I knew he had good stuff and when I got ahead in the count I looked for something out over the plate that I could hit hard and drove it into left.”
Vetrano said Lakeland came up with the win because it didn’t stop believing in itself.
“We knew they were going to be good but we gave it our all and didn’t back down,” Vetrano said.
Vetrano’s performance was a boost to the team according to Berta.
“It felt good to help get Joe the win. He kept us in the game with dominant stuff as usual,” Berta said. “It was a great pitching matchup and it was a good team victory.”
On the other side of that great pitching matchup was John Jay’s Ryan Bryggman, who welcomed the challenge of going up against a fellow ace.
“It’s always energizing to go against another team’s ace,” Bryggman said. “Our best against their best. Both teams know it’s going to be a close game so everyone is more focused and plays a cleaner game.”
Bryggman also pitched well, striking out six, allowing just one earned run and two walks in five innings pitched.
“I had two outings against them last year so I learned what their hitters like,” Bryggman said. “They’re a great off-speed hitting team so the first time around the order I pounded fastball, and then the second time through I mixed up my pitches to keep them off balance.”
John Jay jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning before Lakeland answered with two runs of its own in the fourth.
John Jay answered back two days later, by beating visiting Lakeland, who was the designated home team, 14-0, for its first win of the season.
The Indians used a well-balanced hitting attack to propel themselves to victory as Chris Orifici, Biancone, Brett Paulsen (homer, 3 RBI), Cole Borowitz, Preddice (4 RBI) and James Machado all recorded two hits apiece.
“I think the kids had been frustrated at the way they have been playing and it sort of all came to a positive point today,” John Jay coach Geoff Curtis said. “We did square up a lot of pitches today on the offensive side so that was great. It did feel pretty good but I think the kids knew that they probably aren’t a team that should never win a game and so today wasn’t a surprise and I thought they did a nice job of acting like they had been there before, which they have. We also talked about how much better it feels to be on that end of a result than the other side.”