Wednesday, May 3, 2017
By Cory K. Doviak
NJS.com Editorial Director
Senior Robbie Leuck threw five solid innings and also led the Emerson offense with two hits and two RBI as the Cavos topped Park Ridge, 11-1, in six innings.
EMERSON – If Waldwick keeps on winning, there is nothing that Emerson can really do to close the one-game gap that exists in the NJIC – Patriot Division standings other than to hold serve until the two teams meet again next week. But they can keep the pressure on.
While Waldwick had a day off to get ready for its pivotal matchup against Midland Park on Wednesday at Yogi Berra Stadium, Emerson used Tuesday afternoon to throw another one in the win column as it took care of business with an 11-1 victory over rival Park Ridge.
“We are not really paying that much attention [to Waldwick]. It doesn’t matter to me, we are just trying to win the game we are playing,” said Emerson catcher Brendan Kelly. “When we see them we will try to beat them, but we are not focusing on them while we have other games to play. It was Park Ridge today and that was our focus.”
Emerson took control right from the get-go as Anthony Laureano, leading off the bottom of the first inning, reached on an error and then scored when Robbie Leuck whacked one to the fence in left-centerfield for an RBI triple. Brandon Steidl’s groundball to second scored Leuck with a second run.
Leuck, the senior right-hander, played a key part in giving himself a lead to work with.
“Our offense has been hot and when we are rolling I don’t have to worry about whether we scored in any one inning and think about having to try to throw a shutout. I know the hits and the runs are going to come eventually because we are a good offensive team,” said Leuck, who struck out four and walked just one while allowing six hits in his five innings of work. “I have a great defense behind me and I am always working toward that. I didn’t have that many strikeouts today and that is okay with me because I know the guys behind me are going to catch the ball and get the outs.”
Vincent Pinto had three of Park Ridge's seven hits and drove in the Owls; run.
First, in the bottom of the second, Park Ridge committed two straight errors that allowed Kelly and Tyler Callagy to reach base. Park Ridge starter Cole Triano then got a strikeout for what should have been the third out of the inning, but instead it was the first and Andrew Brahm’s sacrifice fly to centerfield gave the Cavos a 3-0 lead. Leuck came through with his second RBI and, with runners on the corners, a balk call let Laureano walk home with the run that made it 5-0 with four of those runs of the unearned variety.
“This past week, these past four games, it’s been a little rough for us. We come out every day expecting to play well and the kids are working, but it hard when it starts like it did today with error, error and the heads go down,” said Park Ridge head coach Pete Crandall. “We’ve played four bad ones in a row and we have to find a way to get going back in the right direction.”
The Owls did manage to generate some positive momentum in the top of the third when Luke Lagnese, Jonny Meyer and Justin Kuron strung together three straight singles to load the bases. But while Leuck was not focused on striking hitters out for most of the game, he got half of his total on two consecutive hitters for two big outs and then escaped unscathed when Justin Cho smoked a line drive that landed right in the glove of Emerson second baseman Pete Durocher.
Leuck allowed just one hit after that and Emerson brought the game to an early conclusion with two runs in the fifth courtesy of Kelly’s two-run double and four more in the bottom of the six to make it a 10-run spread.
Emerson shortstop Anthony Laureano scored three runs and anchored a defense that played error free baseball.
“Every league game that we play is the most important one for us. We don’t take any league game lightly and we want to throw the best pitcher that is available and Robbie [Leuck] did a great job for us today,” said Emerson head coach Chris Sommerhalter. “We capitalized on some of the mistakes that they made in the field, we scored a bunch of runs early and we swung the bats well throughout.”
Nick Delpome finished up on the mound with one scoreless inning in relief of Leuck (5 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 4 K, 1 BB), who was also the only Emerson hitter to have a multi-hit game. Leuck finished 2-for-2 with 2 RBI and a run scored. His sixth inning sacrifice fly gave him two balls hit to the warning track, though he claimed the second would have gone out of the park had the gusty wind not been blowing in from behind the right field fence.
“They say I have warning track power,” said Leuck, “but that is just a myth.”
Laureano scored three runs, Steidl scored twice and drove in a run, Joe Carmosino had a hit, an RBI and a run scored and Kelly drove in two, scored one and stole a base as part of a balanced Emerson (11-5) offense. Callagy and Jared Delpome each scored a run and Brahm, hitting out of the 9 hole, finished 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.
Pinto (3-for-3, RBI) had three of Park Ridge’s seven hits and drive in the only run for the Owls, who have now fallen back to the .500 mark on the season (7-7) after a 7-2 start.
“We swung the bats okay, but we are having a hard time picking it up and throwing it lately,” said Crandall. “We started out not knowing exactly what we had here, we graduated almost everybody and then we got out of the gate playing well with a bunch of young kids. We played pretty good baseball until this last week and now we have to find a way to get back to that.”