Don’t give this Calhoun baseball team an inch. It could cost you the game.
Plainedge didn’t give the Colts very much to work with in Sunday’s Nassau Class A quarterfinal round. Red Devils ace Tyler Kregeloh was ahead of the hitters and racking up strikeouts. They had men on base in six of the game’s seven innings. And they didn’t commit an error in the field.
Yet Calhoun emerged with a 2-0 victory at its Joe Corea Field. Senior Alec Edwards’ one-out solo home run was the centerpiece of a two-run third inning and the gritty pitching of senior righthander Dan Bondi made it stand up.
Calhoun (20-1) has looked every bit the part of the No. 1 seed in the tournament thus far. The Colts’ only blemish this season was a one-run walk-off loss to Carey in which ace Brian Chin was throwing a no-hitter when he reached the state-mandated pitch limit. In three postseason wins they’re pitching has posted a pair of shutouts and they’ve outscored opponents by 27-6.
Kregeloh retired the first seven Colts he faced and six of them were behind in the count from the first pitch. Edwards got a slider over the plate on the righty’s first pitch and hammered it for a homer to leftfield, his fourth of the season. Joey Goodman would later drill a two-out triple to right and score on Matt Kalfas’ single through the middle.
“I'm a guy who loves to swing at the first pitch,” Edwards said. “It's usually the best pitch in the count, so it’s smart to attack early. He gave me a slider and left it down over the plate. It was a perfect pitch for me to hit.”
To reach the semifinal series, Calhoun was going to need one win while Plainedge (14-9) needed two. Calhoun coach Art Canestro had front-line pitchers — Chin and Kalfas — ready but gave Bondi this assignment Wednesday right after they won their second game because of his poise.
“He's not going to be too high or too low — so this is a perfect environment for him,” Canestro said.
And Bondi lived up to that. He allowed five hits, three walks and hit a batter but was at his best when the Devils had men on base. Bondi held Plainedge hitters to 0-for-4 with three strikeouts with runners in scoring position. He fanned a total of seven.
The Colts didn’t make an error behind him and Chin, at second base, smartly turned a second-inning ground ball into a double play by tagging the runner instead of throwing to second.
“There's always a bit of like anxiety in these games because you want to play well for your teammates and you don't want . . . an elimination game,” Bondi said. “You just want to get the job done.”
Kregeloh allowed five hits and struck out six over his six innings, but Plainedge left eight men on base.
“I’m proud of how we battled. Kregeloh pitched one hell of a game,” Devils coach Colin Fratrick said. “They had a couple of big hits in big spots and when we got chance, we didn't get those hits.”
Calhoun has won nine straight and this season has allowed more than three runs just twice. They go to the semis brimming with confidence.
“The other teams left are great but I feel like this is the team,” Edwards said. “We hit one-through-nine, all our pitchers throw strikes . . . [and] our team chemistry is off the charts. We feel confident we can get it done.”