Patience pays off for locals in rout
By BOB ETTINGER
Marco DeFalco understands how to get to a pitcher better than most.
That knowledge permeated the entire Baird Brothers dugout on Thursday night in a 14-0 five-inning victory over North Hills (Pittsburgh) in the PONY Palomino East Zone tournament at Cene Park.
“We have a great group of hitters,” DeFalco said. “[North Hills starter Beau Braunlich] was throwing a lot of balls in the beginning of the game. We wanted to find our pitch and not chase. We wanted to control the at-bats and hit our pitch when we got it. That’s what we did.”
Baird Brothers (50-7) roughed up three North Hills pitchers to the tune of 14 runs on 11 hits. They also took advantage of six errors.
“This is the first time we entered a tournament with a pitch count,” Baird Brothers manager Don Pletcher said.
“We told the kids we wanted a lot of patience. [Braunlich] wasn’t going to throw the ball by them. We wanted them to go deep in the count. He threw 72 pitches by the third inning [when he was lifted with one out]. He was frustrated, too.”
That frustration led to mistakes by all three North Hills pitchers.
“When you go deep in the count, it takes the odds up there will be a little failure (by the pitcher),” Pletcher said. “They’re good hitters. They’re all college players. They have a lot of faith in their bating and they have faith in the guys behind them. Tonight was our 50th win because of it. We have a lot of faith in each other.”
Baird Brothers will play Ohio Longhorns at 8 p.m. tonight in the double-elimination tournament.
DeFalco tripled singled and reached on catcher’s interference in driving in four runs while Steve Usanio tripled and singled twice to drive in a pair to lead the Baird Brothers attack.
“[Braunlich] has a pretty good curveball,” DeFalco said. “When he starts to throw it for strikes, it’s hard to lay off that first pitch. If the first pitch looks Ok, we wanted to try and find a better one. It really helps out that we have great hitters.”
Baird Brothers left-hander Sebastian Lay tied up the North Hills bats through all five innings.
“He was very efficient,” North Hills manager Jason Bisesi said. “He has a lot of spin to both sides [of the plate]. He did a good job keeping us off balance.”
Lay allowed just one hit, fanned nine, walked a pair and hit a batter in the shutout.
“I threw my normal game,” Lay said. “My catcher (Justin Stewart) called a good game. I just pitched the way I have all my life. My fielders helped me when I needed help and I did my job and made the hit weak balls to help them.
“I stuck with my fastball and worked in my off-speed stuff. I mixed up my pitches and I mixed up the locations. Even my fastball, I changed the speed because if you always throw it the same speed, they’ll time it up.”