UTICA — Smith Post advanced to the District V American Legion baseball title game against Whitestown Post with an 8-2 win over Moran Post Tuesday at Murnane Field. But that title game was washed out and was rescheduled for 5 p.m. today, though the location had yet to be determined at press time.
Smith, the three seed, and Moran, the two seed, each scored once in the first inning of their rematch of a July 14 playoff game Smith won 16-1.
In the top of the first, the Smith offense didn’t need a hit to open the scoring. Moran starting pitcher Richie Paul walked Riley Brawdy, Jake Premo, Derek Holmes and Damon Campanaro. The last walk forced in a run.
“Good to put one up early,” said Brawdy, who started on the mound for Smith. He said the approach was to “try to do the same thing again,” in playing a team Smith had beated by 15 in Camden a week ago when both teams were 1-0 in the tournament.
The Camden-based two seed immediately responded. Eric Mitchell led off with a single and, after two ground outs to move him to third, scored on single by Paul.
The Smith offense came to life in the third inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and ending Paul’s day on the mound with a five-run effort. Campanaro started things with a walk. Paul then walked Mike Flint, Kyle Williamson and Melchiore. The fourth walk forced in Campanaro for a 2-1 lead. Brawdy then snuck a single inside the bag at first base that plated Flint and Williamson for a 4-1 lead. That was the last batter Paul faced. Moran went to Kohl Ingalls. Premo singled off of him to drive in Melchiore. Holmes doubled to score Premo to make it 6-1 in favor of Smith.
“A lot of pressure was off me,” Brawdy said of his mind set after getting a five-run cushion.
Moran’s offense could only get one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning. Brian Gonzalez walked to start the inning and moved up when Alex Wurster was hit by a pitch. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, then Gonzalez scored on a sacrifice fly by Paul. That cut the lead to 6-2.
Brawdy, who went the distance for Smith in the win, did not allow another run. His final line was seven innings, four hits and a walk allowed with eight strikeouts. He retired the final eight Moran hitters in a row.
The Smith offense added a pair of insurance runs in the fourth. Again the Rome-based team got an RBI on a walk with the bases loaded. This time it was Brady forcing in DeLutis. Marco Macri followed him with a sacrifice fly to drive home Williamson.
Paul’s line was 2 1/3 innings pitched, allowing six earned runs on two hits and nine walks. He struck out four. Ingalls went the final 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits and four walks. He struck out two.
Smith manager Ryan Hickey said the game plan against Paul was to “stay disciplined, attack strikes in the zone.” He said that after the five-run third the Smith players went into “lockdown mode,” focusing mostly on playing defense. “Don’t make any mistakes,” he said was the approach once they had the bigger lead.
Hickey said the plan Tuesday was to use Brawdy in a must-win game to get to the championship, then hand the ball to Macri to start the title game. “Moran is a very good team. You can’t overlook the two seed,” especially after Moran handed top seed Whitestown its first loss of the tournament 3-2 Monday night. “You have to win the first one,” Hickey said of what was supposed to be a doubleheader Tuesday. “We believe in Marco.” What does Smith need to beat Whitestown for the league crown? Hickey said: “Marco Marci has to give us a chance,” the team has to play good defense and “we have to hang in there and see if we get some timely hits.” Brawdy added: “We can’t go flat.”
The tournament schedule is located at www.nylegionbaseball.com under District V's schedule. The league could not use Murnane Field today because the Utica Blue Sox play home games there and play there today.
When Whitestown and Smith met July 15 in the 2-0 bracket, Whitestown got a 4-3, walk-off win on a single by Max Pawlowski in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Moran finished its season at 13-6, while Smith improved to 13-6. Whitestown has a 15-2 record.