Baby Bombers Shutout Oneonta In Second Game, Split Doubleheader
STATEN ISLAND, NY -The timing couldn't have been better. After dropping the first game of a doubleheader 4-2 to lose their fourth in five to give red hot second place Aberdeen life, the Baby Bombers bounced back to take the second game 5-0 over Oneonta (37-33) before 2,879 at Richmond County Ball Park Sunday night.
Tim Norton along with ace relievers Jonathan Hovis and Nick Peterson combined on a seven inning three-hit shutout to get Staten Island (42-28) back on track. The victory kept them 2.5 ahead of Aberdeen, who won their fifth straight over Vermont Lake to improve to 40-31 and make this final week interesting. A week prior, a crucial game between the Bombers and IronBirds was rained out. Now, it could mean something if Staten Island doesn't take care of business, which is why getting the second game meant so much.
"Big time," said skipper Gaylen Pitts. "Aberdeen's playing like they're not going to lose the rest of the year...If we take care of business, we're alright. If we don't, we're going to be struggling but that was a big time performance by Norton after we lose the first one. Step up and set the tone that second game."
"It was good to bounceback in the second game of the doubleheader. We were a little sluggish the first game. Everybody looked kind of tired. It seems like we played better in the second game," first baseman Kevin Smith said after smashing a two-run home run to deep right in the eighth for the final margin and erase any doubts.
With the game scoreless in the fifth, the Bombers mounted a two out rally and pushed across two. After Wilkins De La Rosa walked, he advanced to third on a Seth Fortenberry single to right and came around to score on Brennan Boesch's throwing error. Mitch Hilligoss followed with a sharp single to left to plate the second run.
Sailing along through the first five, Norton (3-3) ran into trouble in the sixth by walking two of the first three batters before departing. Hovis came in and got the next two hitters to ground out to Hilligoss to end the threat.
"The job there is to come in and get a double play ball. Get ground balls and limit the damage in the inning," Hovis said. "I threw a couple of sinkers and got them to roll over it and we got out of there without giving up a run."
Staten Island tacked on three in the sixth. Again benefiting slightly from an error, they made the Tigers pay. After Wilmer Pino singled and stole second with one out, Tim O'Brien's routine grounder was booted by shortstop Scott Sizemore which allowed Pino to score. After new Oneonta reliever Chris Krawczyk fanned Jose Gil, the first pitch he delivered to Smith was tattooed into the water to make it 5-0.
"It's good cause I haven't had that all year," Smith pointed out about his first dinger at St. George. The other came on the road earlier this season. "It's good to finally start hitting some home runs. Everybody's been putting the effort in all year and been doing a good job."
"[Krawcyk] gave me a change up and one of the guys who played with him told me and said he likes to throw the change up a lot. So I went up there and I got a change up. It was just lucky I guess."
"They're all big now," Pitts added. "I told the team from Day One if we're good enough to still be standing at the end, then we'll go onto the next level. If we're not good enough, we'll go home."
"If we take care of business, we're going to be fine."
Notes: In the first game, a Deik Scram RBI single scored Louis Ott to break a 2-2 tie in the fifth and spark the Tigers to a 4-2 win- making a winner of reliever Randor Bierd (4-0). In a losing effort, George Kontos went six allowing three earned runs while striking out five to fall to 7-3 and suffer the hardluck defeat. ... With yesterday's rainout being made up, both games were played over seven instead of the full nine. The first game took two hours and 12 minutes while the second needed just two hours to complete. ... Rehabbing Yankee left fielder Hideki Matsui will be participating in batting practice the next two days with gates opening at a special time of 3 PM on Labor Day. ... Baby Bombers conclude three-game set with Tigers Tuesday night before finishing with three against Tri-City at St. George.