Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cadets top Troy, make it six of seven in the Big 10

For the sixth time in seven years, the La Salle Institute baseball team can lay claim to the Big 10 Conference regular season title.

La Salle's Matt Mainello (right) is congratulated by Nick Bernardo (25) after Mainello scored a run in the fifth inning of Wednesday's Big 10 baseball game against Troy High at Geer Field. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

La Salle's hitters jumped all over Troy High starter Jesse Twiss in the first inning. Zach Remillard led off with a single and J.P. Sportman doubled him in for a run. Sportman stole third and then scored on Will Remillard's sacrifice fly.

A few loud fly balls later, Twiss was out of the inning and the Cadets were licking their chops.

But Twiss calmed down and turned Wednesday's game into a classic pitcher's duel.

La Salle's Dave Roseboom, on the other hand, never dug himself a hole. Roseboom faced the minimum through three innings and worked out of jams in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. He picked off a pinch runner in the seventh inning to end the game.

La Salle head coach Jesse Braverman called Roseboom the "high school equivalent of Andy Pettitte" for his nifty pickoff move. "You don’t know when he’s going to first and when he’s going home," added Braverman.

"I think he (Roseboom) kicked it into another gear," said Troy head coach Curtis Nobles. "Usually, we have a lot of success against him. He seemed to start backing down a little bit in the past. But today he stepped his game up and he came right at us. I tip my cap to the kid. He came out guns blazing."

"It's my third Big 10 title and our sixth in seven years," Roseboom said. "That’s pretty impressive. Now we’ve got one of our goals. That was the biggest thing in the gym this year. Get the Big 10 title out of the way and get past the first round of the sectionals because that’s the thing that has really plagued us."

La Salle, which will play NYS No. 8 Mamaroneck Saturday in a postseason tune-up, earned a first round bye in the Section II Class AA bracket.

La Salle Institute senior pitcher Dave Roseboom (12) is met by R.J. Williams (left) after he struck out the side in the fifth inning of Wednesday's game against Troy High. La Salle assistant coach Brian Henkel (6) looks on.

I think it's fair to say that Troy High has had La Salle's number in recent games. The Flying Horses were 2-for-3 against their rivals in 2009 and won the first game on April 28 against a suspension-depleted La Salle team.

Wednesday, La Salle matched Troy's trademark intensity and held on for the 3-1 win.

"It's no secret that Troy has been our most tenacious opponent," Braverman said. "They have a lot of ability and they have a lot of emotion and they have outplayed us in several recent games. There had to be that in people’s minds that we wanted to play a better game against them. But it was also the Big 10 championship at stake, so there were a couple of things riding on it."

"They really feed on momentum really well," said Roseboom. "That’s their big thing. Once they get on top of you, they stay on top of you. That’s one of the really hard things about them. They’re really a hard-nosed team. I know Curtis does not let them get down, because he’s yelling in their ear."

Six league titles in seven years is quite an accomplishment for any high school team because it means that the roster has turned over many times. La Salle, of course, has had many great players compete in the blue and white the last seven years and Braverman wished to thank every single one of them.

"That is hard to do because there are some really good teams competing against you," Braverman said. "I just have to tip my cap to the players that I have been blessed with. Brian Henkel and I have had some wonderful talent to work with."

Troy High junior pitcher Jesse Twiss deals during Wednesday's game against La Salle. Twiss was hit hard in the first inning, but recovered and kept the Flying Horses in the game until the very end.

With a ton of pressure on his shoulders, Jesse Twiss pitched well in the late innings, doing all he could to keep his team in the game.

"He’s starting to get there," Nobles said. "Early in the game, he left the ball up a little bit and he settled in. He made the adjustment, starting get his offsepeed pitches for strikes and he actually pitched a very good game if you delete the first inning."

There were two outstanding defensive plays in the game, both of which featured La Salle second baseman J.P. Sportman.

Troy High catcher Anthony Ragosta scampered to corral a wild pitch as Sportman bolted from third base. With a small foul territory behind home plate, Ragosta quickly found the ball and tagged Sportman just before he touched home plate to end the third inning.

In the seventh, Sportman made a nice diving stab to his right to field a ground ball and throw out Troy's Justin Schnellbaecher at first base.

Whatever hard feelings they may harbor for each other, the members of the Troy and La Salle baseball teams shook hands after Wednesday's game. (Video capture by Will Montgomery).

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