Few hitters reach base off Jake Gargiulo to begin with, and even the ones that do are not truly safe.
The Calhoun lefthander’s pickoff move has become a weapon, and it was on display Thursday. Gargiulo picked off two of the five batters to reach base against him in the Colts’ 7-3 win over Valley Stream Central at Cantiague Park. Gargiulo also struck out eight, walked none and scattered five hits in seven innings as first-place Calhoun improved to 9-2 in Nassau AA-III.
Matt Pelcher’s two-run double in the fourth gave the Colts the lead for good, and Rob Backus went 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs and three stolen bases. Dylan Hughes went 3-for-4.
Gargiulo actually got off to a tough start on the cold and windy afternoon, allowing a two-run double to William DeLuca in the bottom of the first. But he settled in and only allowed one base runner until the seventh inning — and yes, he was picked off at first.
“The first inning was bad, but I got control of all my pitches and kept them around the strike zone,” Gargiulo said. “My changeup was on today, and once I realized that, it was smooth from there.”
He added: “This year I’ve been getting a lot of guys with the pickoff. It’s becoming my bread and butter.”
“He’s one of the best kids on Long Island with that pickoff move,” coach Art Canestro said. “I wish I could tell you I taught him that, but it’s a natural move. He picks off kids that aren’t even going to steal. It’s a neutralizer.”
Calhoun got on the board in the third inning on Jack Pugliano’s RBI single, and an inning later Pelcher ripped a double to left to score two and give Calhoun a 3-2 lead.
“I was looking for a fastball, got one and just drilled it down the line. It was my biggest hit on varsity so far,” said Pelcher, an eighth-grader at Merrick Avenue.
Connor Hannon drove in Pelcher with a hard-hit sacrifice fly to center later in the fourth, and Mike Losak’s RBI single in the fifth made it 5-2. Calhoun tacked on two more runs in the seventh thanks to RBI singles from Backus and Hughes.
Valley Stream Central (4-8) pulled a run back in its half of the seventh after an RBI single from Joseph Stewart, but he also became Gargiulo’s latest pickoff victim.
He probably won’t be the last.