Clarke edges Plainedge in bottom of seventh
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Clarke centerfielder John Fogarty watched a drive by Plainedge's Richie Whalen sail over his head with two outs in the top of the seventh. That two-run double capped a four-run inning that tied it at 4.
It didn't take long for Clarke to bounce back. A half-inning later, an error on a ball hit by Fogarty led to the winning run in the Rams' 5-4 victory Thursday.
Jessie Russo reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He was chugging toward third when Fogarty hit a sharp ground ball -- a potential inning-ending double play -- right at the second baseman. But an errant throw to the shortstop went into leftfield and Russo scored the winning run.
"With two strikes I was just trying to put the ball in play and make something happen,'' Fogarty said. "It's been our philosophy to shorten up with two strikes and just put the ball in play and you never know what could happen.''
On a blustery, bitterly cold day, both teams struggled to get comfortable. Two errors helped Clarke (3-0) take a 1-0 lead in the second. The Rams manufactured a second run in the fourth after pinch runner Nestor Haddo stole second, moved up on a fielder's choice and scored on a sacrifice fly.
"It was a very sloppy game," Plainedge coach Tom Abruscato said. "It was a tough day. The pitchers had trouble and our kids did a good job and theirs did as well."
Clarke added two insurance runs in the sixth, seemingly enough for Matt Seelinger, who had relieved starter Chris Caizza (two strikeouts, no earned runs and two hits in four innings.)
It came apart in the seventh as Seelinger (2 2/3 innings, four strikeouts) walked two before giving up a two-run double to Jimmy Mendyk. Mike Turton recorded the final out, but not before allowing Whalen's tying double.
But it was Fogarty who helped Clarke keep its composure and pull out the win.
"The cold is tough," Fogarty said. "But it's also your mindset and how you feel going into the game. You have to block that out and think the right way and just do the job."