The early season North End Athletic Association (NEAA) Major League All-Stars played a skilled Hill House All-Stars team on a muggy Monday night at Langone Field.
Alex Parisi took the hill and promptly struck the first batter out. After letting up a walk, the third batter got a hold of a Parisi pitch to the gap in right center.
Just when it looked like Hill House was about to jump out to an early lead, James Heath—galloping like a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred—appeared on the spot to make an outstanding catch to secure the second out, having tracked the ball down from his right field position. Parisi promptly retired the next batter, ending the half inning. The NEAA couldn’t take advantage of a JoJo Brienze single and took the field to start the second.
The second inning was domination from both pitchers as each hurler struck to the side. Inning three began with Matt Griffin on the mound for the North End squad. He matched Parisi’s dominance by letting up only one walk to the three batters he faced that half inning.
The North End then came to bat in the bottom of the third of a scoreless tie. After a strikeout, Griffin secured a walk, landing on first. Max Howard then confidently stepped into the box and proceeded to blast a triple, scoring Griffin for the first run of the game. Following the triple, Rich Wells waited out a long at-bat to ultimately reach first on a walk, but Hill House managed to escape more damage that inning by striking out the next two hitters. End of three it was 1-0 North End.
Griffin went back to work on the mound in the top of the fourth where the lead-off hitter for Hill House and was able to make good contact out to deep left field. Unfortunately for Hill House, Desmond O’Heard made the second incredible catch on the blast. Griffin made light work of the next batters, with grounders perfectly played by the North End infield for the next two outs, ending that half of the inning.
The bottom of the fourth was uneventful for the home team headed to the 5th. Max Howard pitching took the hill for the 5th with the North End clinging to a 1-0 lead. Jo-Jo Brienze made two great fielding plays at third on hard-hit grounders and throwing darts to first to record the first two outs. Will Previte cleaned up the inning by making his own put-out, ending the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the 5th the first two North End hitters went quietly but then James Heath’s managed to wait out the pitcher and get a base on balls after an intense at bat. With two outs, a man on, and in a high pressure spot, Richard Wells dug in, sat on the first strike, then blasted the ball down the right field line for a triple.This monster hit allowed Heath to score all the way from first, making it 2-0. The inning ended on a strikeout, but the damage was done.
This lead was all Howard needed as he struck out the first two hitters, gave up a walk, then settle back in and K’ed the last batter. His play on the mound and hit to give the NEAA their first run of the game, earned him the game ball, in a difficult selection with so many players making amazing defensive plays and coming up big at the plate when needed. Parisi, Griffin and Howard combined to no-hit a talented Hill House team while striking out 10. The North End play flawless defense committing no errors to support their pitchers efforts.
The North End and Hill House will go at it again on June 3rd at Langone Field in what should be another exciting game of these two excellent teams.