Division baseball coach Tom Tuttle hoped for significant offensive improvement from his team this season. Days like Thursday afternoon are a step in the right direction.
Highlighted by the efforts of second baseman D.J. Melgar and outfielder Sean Paprocki, the Blue Dragons tallied six two-out runs en route to a 10-5 Nassau A-III victory over South Side.
“We’ve been swinging the bats really well,” Tuttle said. “That’s one of the things we really wanted to work on after last season,” Tuttle said.
Division (6-0) starting pitcher Joe Wolf allowed four earned runs in 4 2⁄3 innings to earn the win and complete a three-game sweep. He utilized a quality fastball/knuckle-curveball combination and struck out four.
“The knuckle-curve was working well today,” Wolf said. “I was having a little trouble locating it early on but I think I found a way.”
Melgar’s two-out, bases loaded walk on a payoff pitch opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning.
Paprocki followed up Melgar’s RBI with a two-run single to right-centerfield to give Division an early 3-0 lead. He went 1-for-1 with two walks and two RBIs.
Tuttle then relayed the steal sign to Paprocki while Melgar stood on third.
Paprocki took off, and when Melgar realized the throw would not be cut off before reaching second, he bolted for home plate. Once the catcher received the throw back home, Melgar had already slid and swiped his hand across the plate.
Just like that, it was 4-0 Division.
“I read the shortstop before the pitch and kind of saw what they were going to do,” said Melgar, who was 2-for-2 with one walk, three RBIs and two runs. “From there my instincts just took over.”
Third baseman Hunter Traenkle’s single between first and second with two outs in the second propelled Division to a 5-0 advantage.
South Side (0-6) made it interesting in the fifth. Tuttle replaced Wolf after falling behind 3-and-0 in the count with runners on second and third and two outs. Reliever Chris Rzemieniewski took the mound leading 7-2 before South Side’s Pat Leach laced a triple to the wall in dead-center on the first pitch to cut the deficit to three.
But Rzemieniewski displayed his perseverance after the early hiccup. He forced a ground ball to short to end the frame and closed out the following two innings while allowing just one run on an infield single by Pierce Fine.
“The triple didn’t bother us one bit,” Tuttle said. “He’s a senior and we knew he was going to shut the door.”
Division extended its lead in the fifth. Melgar capped off the inning by lining a single into left-centerfield to put the Blue Dragons up 10-4.
“We’re a confident bunch right now that love to play baseball and have fun,” Melgar said.