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December 03, 2016
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Play ball!

Safe! Sullivan West’s Zach O’Connor beats the tag from Liberty shortstop Brendon Siegel.

Champing at the bit to get to my first baseball game, a home opener for Sullivan West vs. league rival Liberty, I had hoped for a sunny day and a warm wafting breeze. I should have known better. Instead, the diamond duel was played out in the rain, preceded by some sleet amidst plummeting temperatures. Thus the inspiration for the quote, at center right, by the Carpenters. The two schools have enjoyed a fierce baseball rivalry over the years, but this one looked as if it would be anything, but captivating as the Westies jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first, initiated by a leadoff triple from senior Jared Meola, a blast to center field off Liberty starter Killian Bloat. Zach O’Connor drew a walk and stole second, as Meola stole home. The Bulldogs loaded the bases as Bloat hit Gavin Owen, who would later be plunked again, and walked Owen Andrews. A walk to Ronj Padu plated the second run and a bases-clearing double by Westie starting pitcher Cody Franskevicz made it 5-0. Liberty got one run back in the top of the second as Phillip Cohen scored on a passed ball. They added a second run in the fourth as Caleb Philips turned his leadoff walk into a run by stealing home. The Westies tacked on two runs in the bottom of the fourth off reliever Brendon Siegel to make it 7-2 as Zach O’Connor and Patrick Pierce scored. But Liberty would not relent. Franskevicz’s victorious day on the hill ended with 96 pitches after four-and-a-third innings. He struck out five and walked six in his outing. Meola pitched two-thirds of an inning and Pierce recorded the save with two innings of work. Meola and Pierce each yielded two runs (one earned and one unearned). In the top of the sixth, Liberty threatened as the Indians got close at 7-6. Cohen scored on a wild pitch from Meola, and Morris Schrader turned a walk from Pierce into a run as he came around to score on a ground out by Andrew Philips. The Westies, who never trailed, got three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Franskevicz drove in Owen Andrews. He then scored as Nick Grossman reached on an error. A pair of walks loaded the bases and Grossman scored as Pierce walked to make it Sullivan West 10-Liberty 6. Sullivan West improved to 1-1 (1-0 OCIAA). Liberty fell to 0-1 (0-1 OCIAA). The two teams completed their league series over the course of the rest of the week. For an album of photos visit www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com.