ARMONK – Byram Hills senior Frankie Vesuvio had his bat in hand, but he figured it was just for show.
Tappan Zee was one out away from heading into extra innings against the defending Class A state champs on Friday. And with a base open, the Bobcats’ most feared hitter expected to be intentionally walked.
“I was ready to go to first base,” Vesuvio said. “I didn’t really think he wanted any part of me.”
To Vesuvio’s surprise, TZ lefty Nick DelliPizzi came after him.
The decision was understandable. After all, DelliPizzi had struck out the West Virginia-commit in each of his previous two at-bats — both on nasty changeups.
But the final at-bat would be different. Vesuvio was hunting a fastball, and when he got one up-and-in, he pounced on it. The walk-off single gave the Bobcats a much-needed 2-1 win, avoiding their first three-game losing streak since 2009 in the process.
“All of the guys were down, so to pick everybody back up was big,” Vesuvio said. “We can’t lose three in a row going into the two games against Eastchester next week. This was huge for us.”
Byram has struggled to hit with runners on base recently, which resulted in losses to Nyack and Pelham this week. The champs were beginning to look vulnerable, and the Dutchmen were ready to take their best shot.
They started off with a bang, turning a rare triple play to thwart the Bobcats in the first inning. TZ took a 1-0 lead on an error in the fifth while DelliPizzi got through six innings on an efficient 68 pitches, only adding to the feeling of inevitable doom for Byram.
But senior right-hander Anthony Russo kept the Bobcats in it, and with the game on the line, Vesuvio came up clutch.
“This year is tough,” Russo said. “We get everyone’s ace (pitcher) and everyone is excited to play us. If they beat us, they’re screaming on their bus. It’s a tough atmosphere, but we just have to battle.”
Player of the game: Frankie Vesuvio, Byram Hills — Despite striking out twice against DelliPizzi, the reigning Journal News Westchester/Putnam player of the year came through when it mattered most. He also led off the game with a double and made a couple of nice catches in center field.
“Honestly, I haven’t really come through that much in big spots,” he said. “I think it was probably my first walk-off in my high school career, and it feels great.”
Turning point: The Dutchmen loaded the bases in the third inning with no outs, but Russo somehow wiggled out of trouble by inducing a shallow fly ball, a strikeout and an infield pop-up.
“I felt today that I didn’t have my best stuff,” Russo said. “But my fielders made plays when we needed behind me, and I just battled.”
Stat line: Byram Hills (10-4) — Russo pitched a complete game on 95 pitches (58 strikes), allowing no earned runs on four hits and three walks with one strikeout. Vesuvio went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI, Jonathan Lattarulo had a pinch-hit sac fly to tie the score in the seventh, and Nick Sapone scored the winning run. Tappan Zee (9-5) — DelliPizzi pitched 6 2/3 innings on 90 pitches (59 strikes), allowing two runs on six hits and one walk with three strikeouts. John Daly and Jordan Peryasz doubled, and Mike Algert scored a run.
Quotable: “We knew coming into the season that we were going to get everybody’s best,” Vesuvio said. “Everybody is coming at us and wants to see how they stack up against the defending state champs. You have to be up for every game and you have to be ready.”