By Bob Behre
The Sportika Gallagher offense was pecking Northeast Pride to a slow death while lefthander Shayne Ostrowsky went into complete shutdown mode last night at Diamond Nation.
Ostrowsky worked just four innings but did not allow a hit, struck out nine and walked one in a performance that permitted his team to build an early 4-0 lead over a gritty Pride team.
The Gallagher bullpen – coach Shaun Parker would use four pitchers to close out the final three innings – held off a late charge by Northeast Pride on the way to the 18U Wood Bat Black Bracket championship in Flemington.
“I was able to throw my curveball effectively,” said Ostrowsky, a senior at Pennsbury High in Pennsylvania. “I was throwing fastball-curveball and locating in and out.”
Ostrowsky had saved Sportika Gallagher’s1-0 semifinal victory over A’s Nation Showcase and pitched two innings on Saturday to give him seven scoreless innings for the weekend.
“Shayne is someone you can rely on,” said Parker. “He pitched outstanding for us.”
Jack Felipe singled home Elijah Dickerson with two outs in the top of the first inning and singles by Sam Aslansan and Adrian Jimenez would eventually lead to a run in the second that was scored on an infield error. The early 2-0 lead appeared huge the way Ostrowsky was chucking it.
Sportika Gallagher tacked on two more runs in the third on three hits. David Melfi scored on a wild pitch and tournament MVP Nicholas Torres delivered Adam Zakaria with a two-out single to center field. Gallagher had eight hits in the first three innings of the game and would get 10 in the game.
Parker has been taken by the impressive development of Torres.
“He’s come a long way,” said Parker. “It’s his third year with us. He was like a deer in the headlights when he came in. But he’s showed he belongs and he’s done that by working hard. It seems like he always comes through in a big spot.”
Once Ostrowsky was through for the night, Parker went about piecing together the final three innings with a deep array of pitchers. “Everyone contributed on the staff. We win or lose as a team and they were all part of it.”
Lance DeSantis pitched a 1-2-3 fifth to keep the no-hitter in place, but Northeast Pride would end the bid in the sixth.
Joseph Curreni got the first hit of the game for Pride when his one-out single in the bottom of the sixth scored Luan Biberaj. Reliever Jerry Hewitt had walked Biberaj leading off the inning and plunked Stephen Banas with a pitch. But Hewitt induced an inning-ending double play to get out of further trouble.
Alec Schwartz took the mound for the seventh and got two outs around issuing a walk to Brett Paulsen. Parker then called on Kenny Lombardo to get the last out and the junior at Hunterdon Central did so in unusual fashion.
Evan Dempsey latched onto a two-strike pitch from Lombardo and drove it into the left-center field gap to score Paulsen and shave the deficit to 4-2. But Dempsey got greedy and tried to stretch the hit into a triple and was gunned down at third by a perfect relay from the Sportika Gallagher outfield. For Lombardo, it was an unusual save as a pitcher can get.
Sportika Gallagher (5-0) outscored its tournament opponents 28-10. Northeast Pride (4-1) held a 30-12 runs advantage on its opponents.