The Rome and New Hartford Mohawk Valley Baseball League teams split their Friday night doubleheader at DeLutis Field in Rome. New Hartford’s Nate Bennett threw a complete game shutout in the opener for a 2-0 win. Rome’s Kyle Clark countered with a complete game of his own to help Rome to a 10-1 victory fueled by a five-RBI power surge by Ethan Brown.
Bennett kept the Rome hitters off balance with his quirky delivery and changing speeds. “I give credit to Nate,” said Rome coach Ryan Hickey after the games. “That’s like the fourth time we’ve faced him” in multiple seasons. “He gives us fits.”
The offense in the first game came early but didn’t last long. New Hartford took the lead in the top of the first. Robert Tehan doubled with one out and scored on a hit by Paul Circelli. Rome starting pitcher Logan DeLutis picked off Circelli at second base to limit the damage.
DeLutis surrendered the only other run of the game in the second inning. Jaron English led off with a walk.
When DeLutis threw to first he had already taken off on a stolen base attempt and beat the throw from first. He stole third then scored on a single by Will Gall.
And that was it for scoring in the game. DeLutis would go five innings allowing five hits and three walks while striking out six. Damon Campanaro threw the final two innings, allowing a walk and striking out two.
Meanwhile, Bennett silenced the Rome bats.
He went all seven innings, allowing four hits and walking two with a pair of strikeouts.
Game two was a wholly different affair. Rome jumped on New Hartford starter Devin Snyder with four runs in the first for a lead they would maintain the rest of the way. Riley Brawdy led off with a double.
DeLutis reached on an error and Brawdy scored on the play. Brown singled home DeLutis and a pinch runner who took over for him would score when Adam Williamson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Marco Macri’s sacrifice fly scored Preston Mecca — who’d singled — for the 4-0 lead.
Rome added a run in the second. Brawdy walked and stole second then scored on a New Hartford error. New Hartford cut the lead to 5-1 when Circelli singled home Bennett in the third.
The Rome batters put the game away with a three-run fourth inning.
Brown was up with Campanaro and DeLutis on and no outs when he deposited a pitch over the fence just inside the left field foul pole.
“The first game was kind of a rough start. We didn’t want to look like that. Second game we came out fired up,” said Brown after the win. Of his homer, he said, “I was down 1-2 in the count. I just wanted to shorten up.”
The Rome team added a run in the sixth on a single by Brown to score DeLutis, who’d tripled in front of him.
In the seventh, Nate Sharron walked and scored on a ground out by DeLutis.
As his team piled up runs, Clark kept throwing strikes. After allowing the only run he gave up, he retired 14 of the final 17 batters to get the win. He allowed six hits and walked one while striking out three.
“It’s a mature group,” Hickey said of the team after the win. “That was the flattest I’ve seen them in game one. But Riley Brawdy got us going” with a double in the team’s first at bat of game two, and Rome never looked back.
Brown, who caught both games for Rome, said Clark “was on fire tonight. All his pitches were working. He never turns his back on a fight.”
“I see myself as the guy who comes in and gets outs,” said Clark of his role on the team. “I pitch to contact rather than get strikeouts. I let my defense do the work. I like pitching the second game.” He said he spends the first game studying opposing hitters to make a game plan for once he’s on the mound. And starting the game leading 4-0 helps. “Lot more comfortable pitching with a lead than in those nothing-nothing games,” he said.
Rome plays its last two games of the season in a 5 p.m. start against Ilion on Monday, Aug. 10, at DeLutis Field.