Tenafly limits the damage, gets back to .500

Asher Zorn retired all four batters he faced to pick up the save in Tenafly's 4-1 win over Demarest on Monday.

DEMAREST – The spring season is a sprint; seven weeks and then playoffs and then done, so there is not much time to make up ground. It’s best to do that quickly like the Tenafly baseball team has. After two losses to start the season Tenafly got back to even as it won its second straight game, 4-1, in the waning daylight on the road at Northern Valley/Demarest on Monday.

“It’s a good win for us. We had a nice double play to end the first [inning], we got another one on a flyball [in the third inning] when we hit the cutoff man,” said Tenafly head coach Andy Escala. “We limited what could have been a couple of big innings for [Demarest].”

Demarest had its chances against Tenafly starter Theo Wasserlauf through the first three innings, but the senior right-hander rope-a-doped out of trouble when he stranded six runners on base with the pair of double plays ending the home halves of the first and third innings.

With two on and one out in the bottom of the first, Wasserlauf induced a ground ball to third where Dylan Pro-Miller turned it into a 5-5-3 double play. Demarest loaded the bases with one out in the second before Wasserlauf got a called strike three and a pop-up to keep the Norsemen off the board and in the third inning the Norsemen loaded the bases again, this time with no outs.

It only cost Tenafly a single run as a strikeout and an 8-3-5 double play with first baseman Archer Zorn throwing a strike to Pro-Miller at third for the final out just after Michael Scalera slid home with Demarest’s lone run on Drew Greenberg’s sacrifice fly.

Freshman Ari Borek threw 4 2/3 solid innings in his first varsity start for Demarest.

Meanwhile, Demarest freshman Ari Borek (4 2/3 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 H, 4 K, BB, 75 pitches) was cruising through the first three-plus innings. In his first varsity start, Borek faced just one batter over the minimum through the first three frames with Wasserlauf’s leadoff single in the top of the second the only blemish and he struck out four over that span.

A bang-bang play at first base in the top of the fourth went Tenafly’s way and Soma Yamazaki’s leadoff infield hit, his steal of second and his walk to third via a balk call, set up the tying run. Wasserlauf’s second hit of the game, a double to center, scored Yamazaki to make it 1-1 and a two-out rally in the top of the fifth pushed the Tigers in front for good.

With the bases empty, Ryan Tarabokija drew a walk out of the No. 9 hole to flip the order and Zorn also drew a base on balls before Yamazaki painted the rightfield line with a double that drove in two and made it 3-1 and Yamazaki then scored on a wild pitch for some added cushion.

Yamazaki finished 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI. He also drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on an error in the top of the seventh before that turn at bat was deleted and the game halted due to darkness.

“At the beginning of the count we were taking first strikes,” said Yamazaki in Japanese and through his translator Zorn, and in reference to his two-run double. “Once the count got to 1-2 I was mindful of the offspeed, but I was still looking for fastball, too.”

Soma Yamazaki scored two runs and drove in two others for Tenafly, which is now 2-2 on the season.

Demarest had been off to 2-0 start to its season, opening with a 14-13 victory over Northern Valley/Old Tappan and then topping Passaic Valley on Saturday. The Norsemen had piled up 25 runs in their first two games, but the big hit proved elusive against Wasserlauf (4 2/3 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 H, 8 K, 4 BB, W, 93 pitches).

“I started off with a bunch of runners on, but I just tried to continue to throw strikes and try to give my defense a chance to make some plays. My curveball was working early and I used my fastball and my slider to get strikeouts,” said Wasserlauf, who worked the give and take of a floating strike zone “There were a few pitches that we missed of mine, but there were also a lot that [the umpire] did give to me today. It hurt at some points but he did come in clutch a few times in my favor on 3-2 counts.”

Zorn came on his relief with one out in the bottom of the fifth and his appearance was more straight forward. He retired all four hitters he faced, struck out three of them and earned the save one inning sooner than expected when darkness quashed Demarest’s shot at last licks.

Tenafly, now all square at .500, will try for the sweep of the Norsemen at home on Wednesday.

“We got a good start from Theo, Asher came in to close it up, we got some timely hitting and that is the formula. That’s baseball,” said Escala. “With weather and the schedule changing you, honestly, just have to think one game at a time and try to win the one you are playing.”