Rockaway Express Rebounds At Tilden For Doubleheader Split
The Rockaway Express hosted the Elmjack All-Stars at Fort Tilden last Sunday in a baseball doubleheader in the 9U division of the Nassau County Youth Athletic Association (NCYAA).
The Express started the day with a 2- 0 record having swept their opening doubleheader against the Salisbury Spartans of East Meadow. The day started as badly as possible for the Express as they lost the opener 17-3. Every ball Elmjack hit seemed to make its way between fielders or roll under a glove.
The Express offense stalled inning after inning with men in scoring position. Starting pitcher Billy Reyes and reliever Matt McDonagh were throwing strikes but it seemed the Express fielders were a half step behind every ball as the Elmjack batters circled the bases.
After the opening loss head coach Jamie Agoglia advised the boys that the second game starts with the score 0-0 and to leave the first game behind. They apparently took Agoglia’s advice to heart as the Express came out and defeated Elmjack 6-3 in a magnificently played game.
The pitching and defense on both sides was first rate and every base earned was hard fought for.
The Express jumped on top in the first inning as starting pitcher Ian Byrne and Daniel Green led off with singles. Billy Reyes drove home Byrne with a grounder to second and James Agoglia scored Green with a single to center. Terence Marten then drove in Agoglia with a double to right.
The Express then set the defensive tone of the game in the bottom of the first as they retired Elmjack on three outstanding plays. The first two batters were retired on hard hit ground balls which were smoothly handled by second baseman Mike McManus and third baseman Reyes. Then, after the next Elmjack batter reached on a base hit, catcher Agoglia gunned him down attempting to steal with a bullet throw to shortstop Green who deftly applied the tag.
The game turned into a defensive struggle over the next few innings as both pitchers kept throwing strikes and both defenses made play after play. Elmjack broke through for two runs in the bottom of the third but the Express defense kept it from becoming a big inning.
Elmjack had runners on first and third with no out as the batter hit a soft comebacker to the mound. Byrne alertly froze the runner at third as he ran straight at him and then threw him out at home as catcher Agoglia applied the tag to get the runner.
The next batter singled cleanly to center to drive in two runs but Byrne cut off the strong throw from center fielder James Tuohey and tossed to McManus at second to cut down the runner for the second out. Byrne then struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Elmjack tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the fourth but again the Express defense limited the damage. The Elmjack leadoff batter walked and made it to third with no outs on 2 stolen bases.
The next batter hit a line drive up the middle but shortstop Green made a leaping, lunging grab for the out. Then a sure looking hit to the right side was snagged nicely by McManus who threw to first baseman Matt McDonagh for the second out as the tying run scored. Byrne again got the third out with a strikeout.
Elmjack brought in their ace to start the fifth. Jake Mackoff worked a leadoff walk and made his way to third on 2 steals. The hard throwing righty struck out the next two before Green hit a smash up the middle for what looked like the lead.
The Elmjack second baseman made a terrific backhanded stab, however, and threw out Green by a half step. Green then relieved Byrne on the mound and struck out 3 in a row to end the fifth still tied.
Reyes led off the sixth and was hit on the left elbow by a fastball and had to leave the game. Green came in to pinch run and promptly stole 2 bases. He then dashed home with the go ahead run when the pitch trickled away from the Elmjack catcher. McManus later drove a clean base hit to right to drive in Agoglia with an insurance run.
Marten scored the sixth run as Joe Featherston walked with the bases loaded. Elmjack led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple and looked ready to rally again but Green bore down and again struck out 3 in a row to seal the win.
The Express record improved to 3-1 with the split as the hard fought victory erased all bad memories of the first game loss.