BY RYAN COBB Sports writer
SLIP IN THE OUTFIELD — Rome Catholic right fielder Mike Eisinger slips while retrieving the ball during Friday’s non-league contest against Herkimer at DeLutis Field. The Redwings prevailed, 12-10, in a game that saw each team commit five errors. (Sentinel photo by Angela Madonia)
The Rome Catholic baseball team was looking to avenge Wednesday’s 12-1 loss to Herkimer in Friday’s rematch with the Magicians, and the Redwings managed to do just that.
But it didn’t come easy for them after they gave up an early lead and had to fight and claw their way back to grab a 12-10 victory in their second game this week with Herkimer in an error-filled non-league matchup on Friday at DeLutis Field.
"Baseball is a funny game," said Rome Catholic coach Joe Melioris, referring to the contest that featured 10 total errors. "If you make an error and don’t pick your head up and want the ball the next time its hit, it’s going to find you."
The Redwings survived in a game that saw each team charged with five errors.
The Redwings started things off by grabbing a 3-1 lead in the second inning starting with a RBI double by Zach Rowlands, who later scored off a throwing error by second baseman Armond Viscomi, to not only take control of the contest but knock the starter Peter Mackenzie out after two innings.
But soon after an inning later, the error bug suddenly stung the hosts, as they committed three mishaps on the field with two passed balls by Redwings hurler Alex Rudiak that allowed two runs to score and was followed by an RBI double by Mackenzie to give the Magicians a 4-2 lead.
The deficit then grew worse for the Redwings when the Magicians scored an additional two runs to make it a three-run game midway through the fifth inning.
The lead didn’t last though because Rome Catholic managed to pull out some magic of their own with a nine-run outburst in the bottom of the inning to vanish the Magicians’ lead and give themselves a comfortable 12-6 advantage.
Rudiak kicked things into gear with a leadoff double to help unnerve Herkimer and he accomplished just that with the Magicians giving up seven unearned runs on three hits, including two for extra bases, four walks and a hit batsman through relief pitchers Spencer Heath, Viscomi and Gio Aceto.
Rudiak said he was thinking fastball throughout his whole at-bat before nailing his game-changing double.
"Coach Melioris said look for a dead-red fastball, and I got a dead-red fastball," said Rudiak, who batted 3 for 4 with three runs scored and an RBI.
"I started the bat right where I was supposed to and it was lucky enough to be a hit and fall in the right spot."
The junior also picked up his first win of the season after throwing for 6 1/3 innings and allowing three earned runs on eight hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
The Magicians, however, made life harder for the Redwings by getting two men on first and third base with one out in the final inning to knock Rudiak out of the game and bring in reliever Josh Blair.
Blair was rattled as soon as he threw his first pitch with the Magicians scoring four runs off Blair on three walks, two wild pitches and two hits before he was pulled with an out remaining.
Matt Vacca managed to close things out to get the Redwings the victory and secure the save.
Rowlands finished 1 for 2 with two RBIs for the Redwings, and Blair had a double and an RBI as well.
Melioris said the squad worked harder in practice on Thursday, which included a significant amount of running, and added that hard work is what it takes to win ball games.
"The other night against Herkimer, we went up and all of a sudden they quit and it became a joke," he said.
"In practice, we changed the flavor of our team a little bit and did a lot of running. You’ve got to work harder because it’s not funny to the coaches, the fans or anybody when you play poor baseball, and today we found a way to win, and that’s a positive."
"We went to work really hard Thursday and coach Melioris said we can play a lot better than Wednesday and that’s what we tried to do," said Rudiak.
"We played today not as well as we should be playing but we played better than last time. It feels good to come out when we lose to a team like 12-1 and good to come out and beat them."
Matt Migloire went 3 for 4 with a double and scored two runs to lead Herkimer, while Ryan Schiavi batted 2 for 3 with a RBI, and Viscomi hit 2 for 4 with a double as Herkimer’s record falls to 3-4 overall.
The Redwings’ record increased to 3-4 overall heading into a 4:30 p.m. Center State Conference game at Old Forge on Monday. Rome is 2-1 in the league.