Express Sweeps Four Games to Finish First
After suffering their first loss of the season last weekend, the Rockaway Express got back on the winning track with 4 wins this past week. That gave them a 13-1 record and first place in the NY Travel - Cub National division entering this weekend’s playoffs.
The Express defeated the Ozone Howard Renegades 11-10 on Tuesday at Kings Bay in Brooklyn. Then two days later the Express scored a 12-9 victory over the Brooklyn Blazers in a battle for first place at Joe Torre fields. The regular season ended on Saturday with a family affair as the Express played their friends and neighbors on the Rockaway Cadets 9 at Amity fields in Brooklyn and came away with a 9-1, 8- 3 doubleheader sweep.
The Express started fast against Ozone Howard on Tuesday and jumped out to a decisive 11-4 lead after 5 innings. Starter Ian Byrne pitched 4 effective innings and James Tuohey pitched a scoreless fifth in relief. The offense was sparked by “Two-fer” Tuohey who went 2-2 with 2 runs and an RBI, Matt McDonagh who was 2-2 with a run and 2 RBIs and Jake Mackoff who also went 2-2 with 2 runs. Byrne also scored twice.
Ozone Howard came roaring back in their last at bat, however, to almost steal the victory. Relief pitcher Joe Tammaro got the lead-off batter in the inning for the first out but then 9 consecutive batters reached base to make the score 11-10 with the bases loaded and one out and their hold on first looked shaky.
Daniel Green got the call to take the mound to try and stop the bleeding. He battled the Renegades cleanup hitter through an epic 9-pitch at bat before he finally got him to pop up for the second out. Then he struck out the next batter on 3 pitches to preserve the nervous victory and first place.
That set up Thursday’s match with the 10-1 Express facing the 10-2 second place Blazers. The game couldn’t have started worse for the Express as they gave starting pitcher Mike McManus no support by committing 5 errors in the top of the first as the Blazers raced to a 4-0 lead. Daniel Green showed the Express fighting spirit when he lined a single to left to start the bottom of the inning and raced all the way to third on Ian Byrne’s ground out to third and then scored as he pressured the Blazer defense into an error trying to keep him on third.
Mike McManus showed the same aggressive baserunning as he scored the second run by racing home from first on James Tuohey’s single to right. The Blazers rebounded by scoring 4 more runs with 2 outs in the top of the second. The damage would have been worse if not for James Agoglia gunning down two would-be base stealers from his catcher’s spot.
That left the Express in an 8-2 hole in the second. But they showed they were not ready to give up first place by scoring
7 runs in their at bat to take the lead. Joe Tammaro led off with a single and scored on Kieran Conaghan’s base hit. Matt McDonagh singled and Jake Mackoff walked to load the bases. Green drove in 2 with a base hit to left. Billy Reyes drove in another with an infield hit and Green again pressured the defense into a run-scoring error. McManus drove in Reyes with the tying run and once again showed his aggressiveness on the bases by stealing 2 bases and scoring the go ahead run by forcing an error.
The Express defense resumed their usual steady play from there as Mc- Manus pitched a scoreless third and Green pitched the final 3 innings striking out 6 for the save. Green finished 3- 3 with 3 runs and 2 RBIs. Reyes, Tuohey and Jake Mackoff had 2 hits apiece and McManus added 2 RBIs.
Sunday’s season ending doubleheader with the Cadets 9 had a family picnic feel as classmates and neighbors faced off with each other. First place was still on the line for the Express, however. The teams played evenly in the opener and the Express held a slim 1-0 lead after three innings as Cadets starter Chris McElhinney matched Express pitcher Matt McDonagh. The Express broke through for 7 runs in the fourth, however, with Mike McManus getting the big hit with a bases loaded single driving in 2. Cadets relief pitcher Timmy Mills then closed out the inning and pitched an effective fifth. Ian Byrne pitched 2 scoreless innings in relief for the Express and James Agoglia pitched the sixth as the Express prevailed 9-1. Sean Peter Mullin led the Cadet offense with 3 hits, Kyle Duffy reached base all 4 times up and Cory Davis anchored the defense at second base with several sparkling plays.
The second game was tied 2-2 after two innings as Cadets starter Jason Sebastiano recorded all 6 outs via strikeouts to stay even with Express starter Billy Reyes. Once again the Express took advantage of one big inning as they scored 6 times in the third, the big blow being another 2 run hit by McManus. Cory Davis closed out the inning for the Cadets and held the Express scoreless the rest of the way striking out 7.
The Cadets could manage only 1 run off Express relievers McManus and Green, however, as the Express won 8-3. The Cadets defense shone as second baseman Zach Erhard cleanly handled Terence Marten’s screamer in the fifth and first baseman Mike Light deftly scooped up the low throw for the out. In the sixth, right fielder Ryan Gibson made a terrific running catch to rob Daniel Green of an extra base hit. The Express defensive highlight was James Tuohey’s diving stop at third in the fourth inning on a hard hit grounder by Gibson and then throwing from his knees to nail Gibson at first, aided by McDonagh’s nifty scoop.
The playoffs begin for the Express on Saturday, August 25 – time, opponent and field to be announced. The Express enter the playoffs as the #1 seed in the Cub National division.