Baird Brothers blanked in NABF finals

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bloop hits help

Bonnie Paws win

14U championship

By DAN HINER

sports@vindy.com

STRUTHERS

The Baird Brothers 14-U baseball team came a couple plays away from claiming the National Amateur Baseball Federation championship at Cene Park on Sunday.

But a couple well-placed hits and a quality pitching performance gave the Brooklyn Bonnie Paws a 2-0 win.

Brooklyn put the first run on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs and runners on first and third, Bonnie Paws’ pitcher Thomas Pallazotto hit a popup just beyond the cut of the infield. As the right fielder and second baseman converged, no one called for the ball and it dropped in between both players.

Brooklyn right fielder Tony Holden scored and gave the Bonnie Paws a 1-0 lead.

The only other run of the game was scored in a similar play in the sixth inning.

With two outs and a runner on third, Brooklyn shortstop Antonio Pena hit a popup behind first base. The first baseman, second baseman and right fielder all ran under the ball as it drifted toward the foul line. But no one called for the ball and the second baseman made a last-second attempt at the catch — only to have the ball drop just inside fair territory.

Pena’s RBI single drove in Brooklyn second baseman Sammuel Urena and gave the Bonnie Paws a 2-0 lead.

Baird Brothers head coach Matt Desalvo said a short fly ball is one of the toughest plays to make in the 14-U division. He said it involves communication and the players are still learning that aspect of the game.

Baird Brothers attempted to tie the game in the top of the seventh after back-to-back batters reached with two outs. Both runners advanced after a double steal to put runners on second and third.

But Pallazotto clinched the shutout with a strikeout.

Baird Brothers starting pitcher Trey Pancake pitched four innings and allowed one run on five hits, four walks and struck out five. Pancake also went 1 for 3 at the plate.

Austin Vogt came in for relief in the fifth inning and allowed one run on three hits and a walk. He also struck out two in his two innings pitched.

Baird Brothers recorded four of their six hits and the first three innings. But the Bonnie Paws were prepared for Baird Brothers’ aggressive base running. Four of the first nine outs were a result of Baird Brothers base runners being caught stealing or picked off at first base.

“That’s our style and they all know that,” Desalvo said. “We did a double steal with two outs in the seventh. What other team would do that? It’s the right baseball and we’re pushing other teams to make adjustments. You can’t second guess something that got you to this point.”

Desalvo said Brooklyn made the proper defensive adjustments after their last meeting and the Bonnie Paws were prepared heading into the game.

Pallazotto allowed six hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He also was the driving force behind the Bonnie Paws’ offense, finishing 3 for 3 with an RBI.

Brooklyn head coach Kevin Rice said he knew Baird Brothers were a “good fastball hitting team.” So the coaching staff wanted to slow the pace down and keep Baird Brothers off balance.

“[He threw] first-pitch strikes and he got his off-speed stuff over. And we made some plays defensively. Also like I said, we had some pickoffs, those were key as well,” Rice said.

In addition to the Baird Brothers, Rice cited teams like the Astro Falcons who won the title last season while he was discussing the quality of baseball in the state. He said his team needed to play well because they were playing a good team in their home state.

“Through experience, those guys have really good baseball programs in Ohio—very good, top notch,” Rice said. “I knew it was gonna be tough but we succeeded so I’m very happy about that.”

For Baird Brothers, Desalvo and Pancake agreed that there was nothing significant the team could have done to swing momentum in the game. Pancake said Brooklyn was a good team and sometimes things aren’t going to go their way.

“Everything they hit, it would find a hole and they would do anything they possibly could to get on base. And after they got on base, they’d capitalize off that,” Pancake said. “That’s just how baseball works right there. They were finding them better than we could.”