Cleveland Remains Undefeated
August 09, 2012 -
The final battle between undefeated teams was as great of a game as expected, and both teams continued their impressive offensive output. Cleveland stormed ahead with 7 runs in the first two innings, but New Brunswick battled back to keep the game competitive. In the end, however, those two big innings were too much for the Matrix to overcome as the Blizzard claim the top spot headed into the final rounds of competition.
Blizzard Storms Into The Lead
Cleveland starter Matt Palko sent the New Brunswick Matrix players down in order in the first, and it appeared that his mound opponent--Howie Brey--would do the same to the Blizzard. After retiring the first two batters, however, Brey gave up a double to Dan Belliveau and single to Andrew Frey to score Bellivear. Patrick Ammar the singled and was followed by Adam Urbania, who smacked a three-run home-run over the brick wall in left-centerfield.
In the second, Palko again got through the line-up quickly, allowing only 1 hit and recording 1 strike out. The inning was interrupted by a half-hour lightning delay, which was the first weather-related delay for the tournament this year.
In the bottom of the inning, the Blizzard had more two-out magic. After two consecutive fly outs to rightfield, Phil Navatsyk doubled and Jack LaMarca was walked. Belliveau's second double of the game scored them both. Frey then singled to score Belliveau and give Cleveland a commanding 7-0 lead after two innings.
New Brunswick Answers
While Cleveland has been the most offensively-productive team this year, New Brunswick has been equally as impressive in run scoring. They got one back in the third thanks to back-to-back two-out doubles from Cody Pace and Jon Guida. After ending the bottom of the inning with a double-play, the Matrix rallied for three runs in the fourth. Anderson Rosa singled and stole second, followed by a Sean Keenan base-on-balls. Dan Sweeney then singled to right, and a bobble by fielder Belliveau allowed Rosa to score from second. Vinny Tranchina's ground-out to second-base scored a second run, and Sweeney then scored on a wild pitch.
Another double-play from the Matrix erased Jim Jaksa's fourth inning lead-off single, but the favor was returned by the Blizzard the next inning as LaMarca and Frey doubled off Pace and Guida. Cleveland added two insurance runs quickly in the fifth. Belliveau led off with and walk and scored on Frey's home run, which was his third hit of the day. The Blizzard stranded two in the inning.
Matrix Cannot Find Needed Hits
The Matrix scraped a couple more runs in the following innings. DJ Roche reached when second-baseman Navatsyk and right-fielder Belliveau collided while tracking a pop fly. Rosa brought him home with a long fly to centerfield, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double.
New Brunswick relief pitcher Matt Cesare shut down the Blizzard for three innings, allowing only 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out one. Five outs were on fly balls to the outfield.
The final run for the Matrix came in the seventh. Jorge Rivera walked and reached second a fielder's-choice. He scored courtesy of Guida's double, his second of the game. However, Palko retired Mike Muha on a line-drive after that, and closer Matt Elko sent the Matrix down in order in the 8th and 9th innings to seal the win for the Blizzard.
Selected Game Statistics
Excluding the rain delay, the game took less than 2-hours to complete. Both teams put their bats to the balls, as evident by only 5 combined walks and 5 combined strike outs. New Brunswick had 9 hits and Cleveland had 13. The Matrix were error free in the outfield.
All of Cleveland's position players registered at least one hit. Dan Belliveau and Giancaro Saia both had 2-hit afternoons for Cleveland, whild Andrew Frey was 3-for-4 with a home-run, 2 runs scored, and 4 runs-batted-in. Cody Pace, Jon Guida, and Anderson Rosa all had 2-hit afternoons for New Brunswick.
With the win, Cleveland remains undefeated and will play Baltimore on Friday at 1:00pm for the right to advance to the championship final. New Brunswick remains alive with 1 loss and will play Livonia. New Brunswick has played Livonia only twice before: a 10-3 win in 1985, and last year's 13-11 loss that eliminated the Matrix from the tournament. Cleveland is 0-5 against Baltimore and has been outscored 66-11 in those games. Their most recent encounted was Baltimore's 16-2 seven-inning win last year on Thursday.