NEWARK – Keeping cool served Delaware Military Academy senior pitcher Vincent Ruggiero – and his teammates – very well Tuesday afternoon.
After giving up two runs in the first two innings, Ruggiero shut down the St. Georges bats and the sophomore-heavy Seahawks scraped their way past the Hawks for a 3-2 win at Newark National Little League, improving to 4-0 on the young season.
“It was big because as a senior, I had to show our younger guys that you have to stay calm even after you make some mistakes early on,” said Ruggiero, who went the full seven innings, surrendering only three hits and escaping St. Georges’ tying threat in the top of the seventh to complete the comeback.
“He’s a senior and he went out there and just competed for us,” Seahawks head coach Aaron Lewis said. “We have a really young team, but I have faith in all of these players. A win like this shows them they can compete with anybody.”
St. Georges (2-2) got a jump on DMA with an RBI single by Shane Feehery in the first inning and a solo home run by sophomore centerfielder Tristan Guild. That was all the offense the Hawks could muster however, and head coach Jeff Rodgers plans to use it as a lesson.
“We lost this game in innings three, four and five – we took the lead but we got complacent,” Rodgers said. “We’ve talked about getting a lead and adding on, not letting up, and this is a lesson to be learned.”
DMA trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, but loaded the bases on singles by Ruggiero and John Bialecki, sandwiched around a Brennan Hazewski walk. After Andrew Turulski’s laser over the infield brought home courtesy runner Shane Carney, Lewis turned to the sophomore just as he crossed home plate to pick up a bat and pinch hit.
“I was looking at a first-pitch fastball, just to get it on the ground and get on base,” Carney said. He did exactly that, slapping a ball that proved too tough for St. Georges to turn into a double play, scoring Bialecki with the winning run.
Ruggiero hit Guild with a pitch to start the seventh, but eventually stranded him at third, inducing a line-out from Riley Hall and a first base pop-up by pitcher Tyler Campbell to end it.
“We just want to keep the momentum going and not get too cocky,” said Ruggiero, who picked up his second win of the season. “We want to stay within what we know we can do as a team.”
“St. Georges is a talented team and we lost a lot of seniors, so it feels really good to get this win,” Carney added.
Delaware Military Academy pitcher Vincent Ruggiero delivers a pitch during a game at Newark National field on Tuesday afternoon.