Rosabella tops Gioffre in game that sets stage for winner-take-all PCYBL Majors playoff finale
June 20, 2019 at 4:36 a.m.
Ryan Gagnon led off with a base hit on the first pitch of the game, Scott Sullivan tripled, John Pauletti hit an inside-the-park home run to deep right centerfield and Rosabella Realty jumped off to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning of a game they had to win against the John Gioffre’s Gents 12U (ages 12 and under) team in the final round of the Port Chester Youth Baseball League Major League Playoffs at Lyon Park Monday (6/17).
It was win or go home for Rosabella because Gioffre had beaten them 8-2 in an earlier playoff round with Joey Ciciriello leading the way with three hits, Sam Benoit getting three walks and Gioffre looking unbeatable with a lineup that includes Billy Villanova, ace pitcher Dylan Cally and Christopher Sabato Jr. Sabato’s cousin Aaron, the homerun-hitting All-America, record-breaking first baseman for the University of North Carolina, was home in Rye Brook at the end of the scholastic year and on hand to watch the finals.
But Rosabella had other ideas about which team was going to win the championship.
They rebounded in the playback rounds by beating Suppa 11-1 behind solid pitching from starting pitcher Joshua Virella and strong relief from Bryan Sachs and Scott Sullivan. With timely hitting from all three pitchers, as well as solid base hits from Gagnon, Pauletti, Johnny Borzoni and Paul Heintz, Rosabella was up 8-0 by the second inning and never looked back.
That set the stage for the Monday showdown against Gioffre’s Gents.
If Gioffre won, they were the champs.
If Rosabella beat them twice, they were the champs.
The stage is set
They were halfway there, beating Gioffre 9-2 in a game that was a lot closer than the score.
Rosabella's win set the stage for a winner-take-all final playoff game for all the marbles after press time Wednesday (weather permitting) at Lyon Park.
"We played playoff baseball and won a game we had to win with timely hitting, pitching and by doing all the little things right," Rosabella coach Jack Kelly said after the game. "But we haven't won anything yet. So I told the team to stay loose, stay focused and let's win it all in the must-win final game."
Gioffre didn't roll over.
Pitcher Dylan Cally bounced back from a rough start and Gioffre rallied for two runs in the bottom of the second when Rosabella ace Joshua Virella, who had been cruising up to that point, gave up base hits to Cally and Benoit before taking a walk on the wild side, walking in two runs with Brian Escobar and Nick Wolff drawing bases on balls with the bases loaded. Then Sabato beat out a costly infield hit, costly because he jammed his hand sliding and had to be taken out of the game shortly thereafter.
That made the score 3-2 Rosabella. Virella pitched three solid innings, at one point striking out five of six batters. Cally's turnaround pitching had Gioffre back in the game. But both coaches had to make pitching changes because of pitch count limitations. And that's when some strange things started happening.
A Rosabella coach was thrown out of the game for allegedly clapping his hands too hard while trying to motivate his team and protesting supposedly too long, too hard and too loud over a disputed ball call. And a swinging strike was called a ball because the pitcher threw an illegal curve ball.
But throughout it all, both teams played solid baseball with one run separating them going into the top of the fifth inning when it still looked as though it was anybody's game.
Kit-Kat walk pivotal
Until, that is, Katherine (Kit Kat) Calloway opened the inning with a walk that seemed to undo the Gioffre relievers. They started their own walk on the wild side, and suddenly it was Frankie Frisch time, and you could almost hear that former Fordham Flash and ex-Major League baseball great-turned-radio announcer uttering his trademark lines:
"Oh, those bases on balls, they'll kill you every time."
And they did. Bryan Sachs singled. Kit-Kat stirred up her team with a strong slide into third on a double steal, followed by walks to Ryan Gagnon and Sullivan. Pauletti smacked a bases-loaded base hit to right field good for two RBIs. Next came a Johnny Borzoni base hit. A walk to Gazment Neza. And an Eddie Mateus base hit to right, his second, good for two RBIs, his long hair flying as he clapped his hands while sprinting for first base.
Almost before you knew it, six runs were in and Gioffre never recovered.
Tears in dugout
In the Gioffre dugout, a kid was crying after the game.
"Don't cry, it isn't over yet, we still have another game to play," Chris Sabato said, two ice packs on his injured hand. His coach wanted to know if he was going to play in the finale. Sabato is a gamer. "I'm going to try," he said.
Both teams are going to be out there trying. But only one team is going to win.
Whatever team wins, Port Chester is going to be a winner. Because both squads are filled with solid players who look capable of making the Port Chester High School varsity Rams better in the future. Rosabella's Pauletti, Virella, Sullivan, Mateus, Sachs, Borzoni and Paul Heintz are just the kinds of players Rams head coach Eddie Martinez is looking for. So are Gioffre's Villanova, Benoit, Cally, Sabato and Ciciriello.
But that will take care of itself in time. Right now, all they want is to win the PCYBL Major League playoffs in a final game showdown. And time will take care of that as well.