By VINCE PELUSO
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP —
Playing in their first game of the season, trailing Grand Valley 5-4 in the top of the sixth, the Lakeside Dragons looked poised to make their move with runners on first and second and no outs.
No. 3 hitter Nick Meola was up, 3-1, in the count when he hit a rocket up the middle, but in the blink of an eye, Mustangs pitcher Kyle Orgovan snared it, almost out of self defense, and threw to second to pick up an unlikely double play.
Orgovan struck out Austin DiBell in the next at-bat and the Mustangs tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the inning to pick up a 6-4 home win.
“There were a few plays that could’ve gone either way,” GV coach Russ Bell said. “Obviously, when Kyle came in, he settled us down and threw strikes, but that shot that came up the middle that he snagged — that was a heart stopper for me.
“He caught it and was able to turn two. It was a great play on his part.”
The play capped what was an overall strong defensive performance from the Mustangs.
On the game, GV (2-1) pitchers walked four batters and hit four, but Orgovan’s double play and a relay throw from center to home on a Jared Parsons double that eliminated DiBell at the plate with Lakeside threatening in the fifth proved big.
“I probably shouldn’t have sent him home, that was my fault,” Lakeside coach Andy Kiphart said. “The double play, we hit the ball right on the screw, probably the hardest ball hit all day, the kid made a heck of a play to catch it. As a baserunner, it was hit so hard, he was just stuck in no-man’s land.”
After scoring two in the bottom of the second on RBI singles from Austin Wagner and Josh Kovats, the Mustangs broke the game open in the third.
Nate Wengerd and Stanley Sirrine walked to open the inning then Orgovan reached on an error.
Wengerd scored on a throwing error from third then Heath Martin plated the remaining Mustangs on base with a double to left.
“That inning, we walked the first two batters to start it off,” Kiphart said. “Then we don’t catch a fly ball. Then an easy ground ball play at the plate, we don’t make the play, it was a disaster from the get go. After that, we bounced back. We could’ve easily packed it in, after those first four batters I thought we limited the damage, so that was a good sign.”
For Bell, it was good to see his seven-hitter, Martin, have a two-hit performance and deliver two RBI.
“That’s one thing I’ve always preached. If we can get a few hits and get some production out of the bottom of the order, that’s when you can really start scoring runs,” he said. “If you just have the top of the order, you’re going to scratch out a run here and there, but if you get that bottom of the order going, that’s when you can really score.”
Sirrine delivered an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when he slapped a single up the middle that scored Tim Steed.
Lakeside (0-1) originally got on the board with three runs in the top of the third.
Alex DeCamillo and Shawn Gilbert scored on bases-loaded walks while DiBell crossed home plate thanks to a balk.
Kiphart felt a few of his team’s issues in the field were related to it being their first time on a baseball field this spring.
“A lot of first-game jitters, we didn’t have a consistent enough approach at the plate,” he said. “It’s our first time on a baseball field. It’s not the easiest conditions to play in today with the big breeze and cold air, but both teams played in it so you can’t use it as an excuse.
“Hat’s off to Grand Valley. They made some key plays and in a game like this, the team that makes those plays is going to win.”
Bell, on the other hand, is pleased to see his team starting to look more polished at the end of the first week of the season.
“We want to eliminate a few things and just get better every day,” he said.