Cardinals Sweep Cubs in NEAA Playoffs

by Ralph Martignetti

For the fourth straight year, the Cardinals and Cubs met in the NEAA playoffs. The past two years, the Cubs knocked the Cardinals out in single elimination. This year, the Cardinals got a measure of revenge with a two game sweep by scores of 8-1 and 9-4.

The Cardinals set the tone of the series early in the opening game.

After JC Pezzuto struck out five and walked one in two innings of work, the Cardinals exploded for six runs in their half of the second. Owen Locke reached first on a rare catcher’s interference call. Oliver Franklin doubled him to third. Three staight walks with two out plated two runs and left the bases loaded for Francesco Santaniello, who took a

2-0 pitch into the right center field gap for a two run double. William Marchi then lined a single to right to drive in another run and only some fast fielding by the Cubs right fielder kept Santaniello at third.

On the next pitch, Marchi took off for second and got into a rundown long enough for Santaniello to score the sixth run of the inning.

Owen Locke took over pitching duties for the Cardinals and struck out three and walked two in his two innings of work. In the bottom of the fourth the Cardinals extended their lead with some aggressive baserunning. With one out, Francesca Rubino doubled into left center and Jared Repoza walked. Rubino and Rapoza pulled off a double steal and two wild pitches allowed each to score. With one out in the fifth, Mattea Del Peschio recorded the Cubs first hit, a sharp single through the shortshop hole, but she was stranded when Santaniello struck out the next two batters. In the top of the sixth a walk to Marcos Soto and double by Colman Shea scored the only Cubs run of the game.

Game two started out differently. Jase Cherchi, who along with Vince Coppola and Bella Vilar were drafted by an undermanned Cubs squad, led off the game with a double and scored on a Texas League single by Colman Shea. Aside from the two hits, Fred Moseley struck out the side in the first and second innings. Meanwhile, Shea held the Cardinals to one hit and a walk through two. But in the third, the Cardinals took advantage of the new Cub pitcher’s wildness to score five runs. Four of the first five Cardinals walked to tie the score. With the bases loaded, Pezzuto delivered a rocket single to center, scoring two and putting runners on the corners. Locke followed with a rocket of his own, delivering one run and again putting runners on the corners. Pezzuto and Locke pulled off a double steal to plate the fifth Cardinal run of the inning. On the next pitch, Locke stole third and attempted to score when the throw got through the third baseman out into left field. Coppola picked the ball up and fired home to nip Locke. It was the first of two Cardinals that Coppola would gun down at home.

But the Cubs would not go quietly. A hit batsman and singles by Cherchi and Soto loaded bases for Shea, who drilled a 1-2 picher over the center fielder’s head. The Cubs got a bad break as the ball bounced over the centerfield fence, so instead of a bases clearing triple, the hit ended up a two run double. With one out and the tying run on second, Moseley stiffened and struck out the next two Cubs to preserve the lead.

Neither team scored in the fourth, where Locke, after a leadoff walk, struck out the side. Both teams were able to score in the fifth. For the Cardinals, two walks were followed by a single by Marchi to drive in one run and put runners on first and second.. On the first pitch, Pezzuto lined a triple to the fence in left center. A grounder to second scored him for the final Cardinal run. In the bottom of the fifth, with Pezzuto on the mound, Cherchi singled to left with one out.

On his steal of second, the throw went into the outfield allowing him to proceed to third. He scored as the ball took a bad hop past the center fielder. Pezzuto struck out the next two batters. He struck out the first two batters of the sixth before giving way to Rubino who got the final out, putting the Cardinals into the championship round for the first time in the four years of the NEAA only league.