YORKTOWN – The ace was on and the kid who wore the same number as the boy after whom the game is named had a big day.
The combination meant the end of Yorktown’s four-game losing streak as the host Cornhuskers topped crosstown Lakeland 5-3 Saturday to win the Sorrentino Challenge.
The game included several misplays but one spectacular full layout, diving snag by Lakeland centerfielder Albin Brucaj that could earn a spot on any highlight reel.
That happened to be at the expense of Yorktown No. 7, Jake Bichler, but came with Yorktown already up 5-1 in the sixth inning. At that point, Bichler had already led off the game with a hustling double before scoring, doubled in a run in the second and singled in the fourth, eventually swiping third and scoring on a wayward throw.
“We’re winning this for the family. It’s their game,” the junior said, referring to the family of Joseph Sorrentino Jr., a three-sport athlete who died while a student at Yorktown High School in 1981.
Player of the game: Jim Sharkey also had a huge game – a dominating one, in fact. The Husker hurler struck out nine – often with high heat – and allowed just one run on an infield hit in five-and-one-third innings.
Coach Sean Kennedy lifted the senior, who’ll pitch next year for Fairleigh Dickinson, after he walked his second man in the sixth with his 112th pitch.
Sharkey entered the game with a 2-1 record and 1.20 earned run average.
“He’s a kid with a bright future. … You’ve got to protect a young kid,” said Kennedy, who brought in Matt Pupczyk to get the final five outs.
Turning point: Sharkey came up big from the get-go. He struck out two in the first inning, including DH Austin Cassese with a nasty 3-and-2 breaking ball with the bases loaded and two out in that frame.
Yorktown took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a little bit of luck and a lot of bad luck for Lakeland starter and loser Rich Vetrano. Vetrano got Tanner Dyslin to pop up for what should have been the third out but shortstop Trevor McCarthy, who’d later make a circus catch in short left, lost the ball in the sun, allowing Bichler to score.
After yielding a two-out run, Sharkey again got out of a bases-loaded jam, getting Matthew Tuite to ground to short to end the second inning.
Stat line: Matt O’Dair drove in Lakeland’s first run with that second-inning infield hit.
Lakeland made a late comeback with two in the seventh as a run scored on a Joe Veca error and another on a Tuite single to center.
Vetrano went five innings, striking out two. His best inning was his last as he put Yorktown down in order. Bryan Petriccione replaced him and worked a scoreless sixth, thanks in part to Brucaj’s Superman-dive grab.
Yorktown’s Nick Farda had an RBI on a second-inning infield groundout and Scott Weaver’s speed accounted for another run as he beat out an infield hit to the right side in the third with two down to drive in Dyslin, who’d singled.
Quotable: Kennedy liked the fact his team (now 5-4) got nine hits, saying its “offensive approaches” weren’t good during its four-game losing streak. He wasn’t surprised by 6-4 Lakeland’s seventh-inning surge, saying, “I’d like to say that’s what I wanted – to make it a little more dramatic. But they’re a rival and I expect them to battle.”
Sharkey noted this was the third straight Sorrentino Challenge win for Yorktown.
“Three years in a row feels great,” he said. “It’ll be something I can look back on.”