Saugus in a squeaker!
Bats explosive but nothing to show for it
By Mark Rogoff
The opener of the
2003 Little League World Series pitting Saugus, MA and Tallmadge, OH
didn’t exactly feature overpowering pitching performances.
While the box score may suggest
otherwise with so few hits in the hit column, both offenses were
putting the ball in play. Balls were hit hard, but they just weren’t
finding the holes. Saugus junk baller Michael Scuzzarella and
Tallmadge lankly lefty Jake Mays pitched effectively, yet struck out
only a combined 7 batters.
The game remained scoreless until the
6th when Saugus plated 2 runs off Mays. And despite a comeback effort
from the Ohio state champs in the bottom half, Saugus was able to hold
off Tallmadge to take the Pool A opener 2-1 in front of 4,800 at
“We got away with one,” said Saugus
head coach Rob Rochenski. “I think it’s going to be like this all the
way through. I don’t think there’s going to be too many blowouts
After an intentional walk to Matthew
Muldoon put runners on first and 2nd in the Saugus 6th, David Ferreira
singled to left as Dario Pizzano came around to score on a fielding
error by left fielder Paul Pakan. Tyler Grillo then singled home
Muldoon, and was thrown out trying to advance to 2nd on the play.
“(Ferreira’s hit) got our confidence
back in us,” said second baseman Joseph Kasabuski.
That confidence was needed after
knocking out only 2 hits in the first 5 innings and experiencing a
build up of frustration after multiple hard hit balls couldn’t find
their way to the outfield grass.
Coach Rochenski tried to explain the
lack of run production in Game One after scoring nearly 200 runs in
their previous 19 post-season games.
“It was tough,” he said. “It’s a
totally different atmosphere here. It was real tough to get going with
nerves, excitement, and all that.”
The real excitement began in the bottom
of the 6th after a fielder’s choice and a single put Tallmadge runners
on first and 2nd. Catcher Jake Jamieson singled to right to score Matt
Keen. And with runners again on first and 2nd, Rochenski tried to
bring in Muldoon to close the door. Because of an earlier substitution
and the mandatory playing rule, Muldoon was not allowed back into the
game and Scuzzarella had to return to the mound. In one pitch he got
the job done, inducing Pakan to ground into a game-ending double play.
“(I had) to clean up the mess,”
Added Rochenski, “That was all a master
And asked if he was worried Scuzzarella
might not be able to hold the lead, Yano Petruzzelli said, “No,
because I knew they weren’t going to score 2 runs. Scuz was pitching a
gem for us.”
“I’m just glad the kids stepped up in
the end,” Tallmadge head coach Randy Keen said while fighting back
tears. “They could have gone 1-2-3 and rolled over and played dead.”
The Massachusetts state champs
threatened first in the 5th frame when Mays walked leadoff man Tyler
Grillo. Grillo advanced to 2nd on pinch hitter Mark Sacco’s sacrifice
bunt. He then took 3rd on Tyler Calla’s ground out to Tallmadge 2nd
baseman Keen. Grillo was left stranded after Scuzzarella grounded to
3rd to end the frame.
together a threat of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
Andrew Payne worked a leadoff walk and one out later advanced to 2nd
on a passed ball. Pinch hitter D.J. Radcliffe then grounded to third
baseman Yano Petruzzelli, who faked a throw to first to invoke
Radcliffe to head to 3rd. It worked, as Petruzzelli tossed to
shortstop Craig Cole, who was covering 3rd on the play, for the tag.
“I’ve pulled that off 3 or 4 times the
last 2 years,” Petruzzelli said.
Coach Keen was impressed with the
defensive effort turned in by the occupants of the 3rd-base dugout.
“New England played great defense,” he
said. “I don’t know how many times I had to tell that 3rd baseman,
‘Good play, good play.’”
Saugus next plays Richland, WA Sunday
at Lamade Stadium, while Tallmadge returns to action Saturday against
Boynton Beach, FL.