BERLIN - All Paul D’Amore had to do was wait.
D’Amore drew a bases-loaded walk as the Berlin Legion baseball beat RCP 4-3 to complete an important come-from-behind win at Zipadelli Field Thursday night.
Berlin head coach Gary Van Etten was proud of his team all around, especially the offense grinding out a tough win against RCP starting pitcher Brett Thivierge.
“I like the effort all around,” Van Etten said. “We beat a really good pitcher. [Thivierge] is a starting pitcher for Mitchell College. He beat us 4-0 last time. We hit the ball against him tonight, so I was happy we did that.”
In six innings of work, Thivierge held Berlin to three runs on nine hits and just one walk.
The scoring didn’t start until an RBI-single in the fourth inning from Berlin catcher Ryan Hyde to drive in Gianni Fanelli, who had three hits of his own in the game, including an RBI-double in the fifth.
Berlin fell behind in the sixth inning when RCP finally broke through against Matt Vernacatola, scoring three runs to take a 3-2 lead.
“They just did a good job of getting the bat on the ball,” Vernatacola said of the sixth inning. “Unfortunately, they found the holes and the ball got by some of our fielders.”
But Berlin charged back, picking up the tying run on a clutch two-out, RBI single by Connor Guidice, setting the stage for the walk-off win in the seventh.
Hyde was relieved of the offense’s ability to squeak by with another win. The decision gives Berlin its ninth win by three runs or less this season.
“I think that’s how our offense has been all year,” Hyde said. “We haven’t necessarily hit the ball spectacularly. We’ve been grinding every at-bat. We don’t overpower the pitcher. But our mindset is to never take a pitch off. That’s something our high school coach [Leo Veleas] preached. That’s something Coach Van Etten’s preaching. So I think that’s our mindset and what gets us through.”
Besides struggling in the sixth inning, Vernacatola was dominant on the mound for Berlin. In a complete-game effort, he gave up seven hits - five of which came in the sixth inning. He also had one stretch of 10 straight consecutive batters retired.
“If he is hitting his spots like he was today, he’s really tough to hit,” Van Etten said of Vernacatola. “He’s not overpowering. But with his arm angle, his arm slot - the ball is always moving - it’s tough to pick up as the hitter.”
Berlin is now 14-5 on the season and two games ahead of RCP for first place in the Zone 7 standings. If Berlin wins either of its last two games, it will clinch the top spot in the zone.
“A lot of our games are close like this,” Van Etten said. “We get a breather here and there. But this one felt good. We really deserved to win this one.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org