By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
After gaining an early lead against the Riverside Beavers in a Premier Athletic Conference home clash, the Lakeside Dragons had to use some late-game heroics to hang on from a thrilling 10-9 win.
After spotting the Beavers a 9-8 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh on an unearned run after Austin DiBell had tied the contest at 8-8 with a shot over the left field fence in the bottom of the sixth, the Dragons battled right back to win the game after the first two hitters were retired.
Caleb Garcia was hit by a pitch and Alex DeCamillo chopped what appeared to be the third out of the inning and the game-ender. It was hit just far enough to fall safely into no-man's land where first baseman Ian Rebenock was forced to field it.
Pitcher Maxx Brubaker went to cover as Rebenock went to throw, but with DeCamillo racing for first he was able to get a hand on the bag before the ball got there. Then, Matt Rocco drilled a shot toward second baseman Joe Tribuzzo, who was unable to come up with the ball cleanly and it fell harmlessly into center, tying the game at 9.
Nick Meola promptly delivered a line single to left to score DeCamillo for the game-winning run, setting off pandemonium in the Dragon dugout.
“For a freshman, Matt Rocco is a good two-strike hitter,” Lakeside coach Andy Kiphart said. “He’s got a good, short stroke at the plate, and with two out and two strikes on him, he stayed focused and hit the ball hard to tie the game. Shawn Gilbert, who has pitched three days in a row now for us, pitched well and gave us a chance to win the game, too. Then Nick got the big hit.”
Lakeside had scored five in the bottom of the first for a quick 5-0 lead, but the Beavers (9-5, 5-3 in PAC) came right back with four in the second and another pair in the third for a 6-5 edge.
“We just couldn’t put Lakeside away today,” Riverside coach Ed Humes said. “When we runners in scoring position, especially in the seventh with the bases loaded, one big hit could have done it. Credit Lakeside for a gusty effort to win the game.”
The Dragons tied the game at 8-8 after DiBell, drilled a two-out shot over the fence. Meola had reached with his third hit of the day, moved up on an error and gone to third on a passed ball to set up a sharp grounder by Jared Parsons to cut into the lead of Riverside.
DiBell tied it up, setting the stage for a fantastic finish which went Lakeside’s way.
Leading the way for the Dragons (4-11, 1-9 in PAC) was Meola with four hits and a pair of RBIs. DeCamillo hit safely twice and scored two, DiBell scored twice, as did Caleb Garcia at the bottom of the order.
“I was glad for the way we responded after that first inning,” Humes said. “Maxx did another fine job pitching, but we couldn’t hold the lead today. What can you do?”
Tribuzzo had a big day offensively for Riverside. Three singles led to three runs scored and a pair of RBIs. Anthony Lilly had two hits, as did Graham Becker. Mike Gunderling scored twice, and Drew Tornow drove home a trio in the second inning with a bases clearing double to the fence in right center to cut the early Dragon lead to 5-4.
A key play at the finish for Lakeside came with runners at second and third after a wild pitch plated a run with one out, a ground ball to DiBell at third set up a rundown play. DiBell tossed to catcher Nick Senita, whose throw to shortstop DeCAmillo was close enough to allow a tag of the runner, and Gilbert escaped further damage to set up the photo finish for Lakeside.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.