Some days, weather and baseball just don’t mesh. Such was the case Tuesday, when Senerchia Post 74 defeated Navigant Credit Union – Fairmouht Post 85 2-1 in an American Legion match-up where, due to a heavy dose of humidity, simply hitting the ball out of the infield constituted something of an accomplishment.
In the top of the first, it seemed like Navigant would be scoring runs whether the weather was in their favor or not. After Senerchia starter David DeFusco allowed two opposite-field hits to open the game, a sacrifice fly scored what would be Navigant’s only run of the game.
Despite the uneven start, however, DeFusco pitched exceptionally well the rest of the way, compiling a complete game two-hitter. Only a rising sophomore in high school in a league that is filled with high school upperclassmen, post-grads and even college players, Defusco’s overall dominance at such a young age did not go unnoticed.
“Dave’s a tough kid,” said Senerchia manager Chris Sheehan. “For him to go out and pitch the way he did and get us a win was huge, especially considering his age.”
With their starter settling in, Senerchia, who improved its state-best record to 13-1 with the win, needed only to produce at its usual level offensively to continue what has been a stellar start to the legion season. But coming off a long stretch of games after a tournament in New York, the Senerchia lineup struggled to consistently put men on base throughout the day, and even failed to register a hit until the fourth inning.
Much of that offensive ineptitude was due to the outstanding performance of Navigant’s EJ Torres. Due to a thinned out Navigant roster, Torres was saddled with the unenviable position of being the only pitcher available, and though he performed admirably, giving up only three hits on the day, he tired as the game wore on.
In the fifth, with Torres laboring, Senerchia was finally able to break through. After catcher Jordan Carvalho drew a walk and second baseman Matt Webb laid down a perfect bunt – aided by the deadening effect of the rain-soaked grass – for a single, the stage was set for leadoff hitter Rob Henry to finally put his team on the board. After taking several close pitches on the outside corner to put himself in a 3-1 hitter’s count, Henry proceeded to boom a line drive that, in clearer weather, may have reached the fence.
With the weather overcast and humid, however, Henry had to settle for a game-tying double. The inning continued after a catcher’s interference call on a ground ball to the pitcher allowed left fielder Kevin Sutyla to load the bases, and Senerchia finally gained a lead it would never relinquish when Torres hit center fielder Dante Baldelli in the left leg with a fastball.
With a one-run lead and DeFusco on the mound, there wasn’t much drama left on the day. DeFusco allowed only one base runner to reach in the final two frames, and did not allow a hit to close out Senerchia’s win.
The fact that Senarchia scratched out a win without its usual explosive offense should bode well for their prospects as the season wears on. However, even going back to its tournament over the weekend, it seems that Senerchia’s offense has labored to some degree, and Sheehan was candid about his team’s struggles after the game.
“Our hitting is in a little bit of a rut right now,” Sheehan said. “But we’re going to be all right. Hitting is a timely thing, and if we get our bats going, along with getting younger guys like Dave experience out there, we’ll be in good position for the playoffs.”
Only time will tell if there offense rekindles in time to make Senerchia’s championship dream a reality.