Mohegan Braves 12, White Plains Tigers 1 (Game three)
‘Pezzuto Shuts Down Tigers Potent Offense’
Submitted by Jake Whitney, Braves manager
The 2018 WestPut MABL championship opener turned out to be a pitcher’s duel between Fernando Ramos of the Tigers and Jay Tomasulo of the defending champion Mohegan Braves. Both pitched beautifully, as game one was a tight, well-played contest the whole way through. The Tigers would ultimately prevail 2-1, giving the Braves something of scare as they had only lost one game in the past two seasons.
Going into game two the Braves knew they had to get some quick momentum to get back on track. Alex Pezzuto took the hill and pitched an absolute gem, shutting down the potent Tigers’ offense. But it was the Braves’ bats that gave them the momentum they needed, as they scored three quick runs in the top of the first. After first baseman Jeff Cobelli led off with a walk, third baseman Mike Shea and Alex Pezzuto ripped singles. Right fielder Ray Cruz then drove a sacrifice fly and manager Jake Whitney knocked a 2-run single to put the Braves on top for good. The Braves continued to add insurance runs throughout the game and they went on to take game two with a decisive 8-0 shutout.
Shea and center fielder Greg Pezzuto led the Braves’ offense, going 3-4 and 2-4 respectively. Cobelli reached base three times, including a double in the sixth. Whitney reached base four times, with two RBIs and two walks. Hits were also turned in by Cruz, left fielder Jason Bopp, catcher Jeff Ho and Randy Guzman.
After two weeks of scheduling challenges due to wet fields, the deciding game finally got underway under the lights at Lakeland High School in Yorktown. The outfield was still soggy from all the rain, but it hardly mattered. Through six innings this was another pitcher’s duel, with the Tigers’ ace Ramos going toe-to-toe with the Braves’ Alex Pezzuto. After striking out the side in the first, Ramos would see trouble in the second after the Braves’ Greg Pezzuto doubled, stole third, and was driven in via Sac fly by shortstop Joe Tomasulo. After Ray Cruz singled and tweaked his knee rounding first, manager Jake Whitney took over as pinch runner and, catching the Tigers off guard, stole second, ran to third on the errant throw, and then scored on yet another errant throw.
The score would remain 2-0 until the fifth when the Tigers plated a run, pushing a 2-1 game into the late innings. The momentum was on the verge of flipping as Pezzuto, who had pitched brilliantly, took a line drive off his pitching arm and considered coming out of the game. ‘A Pezz’ decided to tough it out, however, and this turned out to be a wise decision as he continued his masterful performance.
Going into the seventh Ramos had struck out 12 Braves, but he finally seemed to tire and the Braves finally found their sticks. The seventh saw free passes to Mike Shea, Greg Pezzuto, Whitney, Cruz and Randy Guzman, and the big hits were supplied by Alex Pezzuto, with a single, Joe Tomasulo and Jeff Ho, each with two-run singles, and Jeff Cobelli, whose deep single to left center cleared the bases. The Braves would go on to score two more runs in the eighth, as Greg Pezzuto and Jay Tomasulo pitched well in relief, securing the 12-1 victory and giving the Braves their third championship in as many years: THREEPEAT!
Special ‘Three Peat’ kudos go to Alex Pezzuto for holding the Tigers to just one run over two games; Greg Pezzuto, Joe Tomasulo and Jeff Ho for their huge post-season hitting; Jason Bopp for his fine pitching in emergency situations; and Jay Tomasulo, for being the workhorse on the mound all season. Co-Manager Mark Hughel and Richie “Jimmy Dee” Gagliardi also deserve special mentions — both missed the post-season but were big contributors all year and key cogs in the Braves’ well-oiled machine over the past four seasons. The Braves would like to congratulate the White Plains Tigers for a very competitive, well-played series.