Express Rolls On Until Rain Halts Show
The Rockaway Express continued their winning ways last week with a win in the New York Travel summer league and a victory in the Southern Grand Slam Baseball Tournament. Then the weather did what their opponents this summer have been unable to do – halt their winning ways.
First the Express defeated the very tough Joe Torre Bulldogs, 3-2, at the Joe Torre Fields in Marine Park, Brooklyn on Wednesday, July 25. The Express then traveled down to Stafford Township, NJ where they won their opening tournament game 11-1 over the South Jersey Smoking Aces before rain cancelled the remainder of the tournament.
The Express-Bulldogs game in Brooklyn was wellplayed and tightly contested. Billy Reyes pitched a 6- inning complete game victory, striking out seven Bulldogs in the process. The Brooklyn team had scored 41 runs in a doubleheader the previous weekend but the Express defense held them to two runs on four hits. The defense was led by James Tuohey at 3B and James Agoglia and Jake Mackoff behind the plate.
The Bulldogs scored a run in the top of the first and had a runner on third with one out when Tuohey snared a hot line drive and alertly stepped on third for an unassisted double play to end the threat. The Express answered right back when Reyes drove in Joe Tammaro from second with a single up the middle. The Express defense held firm in the second as center fielder Mike McManus fought off the sun to make a tumbling catch of a short fly ball.
The Express then struck for two runs in the bottom of the inning as McManus and James Agoglia stole their way around the bases. In the top of the third, left fielder Matt McDonagh’s alert back-up of a play at third kept the leadoff batter from scoring on a steal attempt. Reyes then struck out the next three batters to escape the jam.
The Bulldogs had 11 at bats with a runner on third throughout the game but catchers Agoglia and James Mackoff blocked numerous pitches to prevent any from scoring. Tuohey made a sparkling play at third in the top of the fourth as he short-hopped a bouncer down the line on the backhand side and fired across the diamond to first baseman Daniel Green for the out.
The game entered the 6th with the Express holding a slim 3-2 lead. The Bulldogs advanced the tying run to third with one out when catcher Agoglia came up with two gems to save the day. He pounced on a third strike in the dirt and alertly tagged the batter before he had a chance to run to first and give the runner on third a chance to score. Then with two outs he chased a wild pitch to the backstop and dove back to the plate to tag out the potential tying run for the game-ending out.
After a crisp practice on Friday, the Express drove down to the Jersey shore on Saturday morning for the Southern Grand Slam tournament. Their first opponent, the South Jersey Smoking Aces, had finished second in the tournament last year. The Express threatened in the top of the first but Ian Byrne was thrown out at the plate on a fine CF-SS-catcher play by the Aces after Daniel Green had singled. The Express shut down the Aces in the bottom of the inning as starting pitcher Mike McManus induced three infield pop-ups. The Aces took advantage of a rare two error inning by the Express to score a run in the second. The Express answered right back in the top of the third as Green roped a double down the left field line to drive in Kieran Conaghan and Byrne, and then McManus lined a double to right knocking in Green and Joe Tammaro. McManus then retired the Aces in order. With new pitchers coming in for the fourth, the Express took advantage of Aces control problems to score seven runs in the fourth after a 90 minute rain delay soaked the fields. Tammro pitched a perfect fourth to preserve the victory.
The Express were poised and confident to keep rolling in the tournament but, unfortunately, the rain continued forcing cancellation of baseball for the remainder of the weekend.
What could have been a depressing weekend of rained-out ball turned into a fun-filled summer minivacation.
The Express family took full advantage of the beautiful hotel, the Stockton Seaview in Galloway, NJ, for a weekend of relaxing by the pool, dining, drinking, rec room and Atlantic City boardwalk strolling. The weekend ended with a wonderful dinner at the local Mexican restaurant where Express mom Kathy Mc- Donagh met and hired the newest member of the Express staff – “the most interesting coach in the world” (see photo). The Express now get ready to continue their summer schedule in the NY Travel Baseball Cub National Division and to participate in the Tri-State Championship Tournament at Baseball Heaven in Long Island, September 22-23.