Friday, 27 August 2010 00:00
The Glen Cove Giants traveled to beautiful Berks County in Pennsylvania last week to play in the Hooters National Wood Bat Championship. As the Giants drove through the agricultural farmland on their way to Reading, Wyomissing and Robesonia, one could not help but think of M. Night Shymalan’s 2002 movie, Signs with all of the corn growing. Matt Grabowski stuck his head out the car’s window and wondered out loud if “Graham Hess” or if any crop circles were out there in the large corn fields?
In game one on Friday night at Alvernia University, against the host team, Berkshire Red Sox, the Giants gave the ball to rookie Bobby MacDonald. After getting ahead with two strikes, the Red Sox hitter lined a single to center. The Red Sox wanted to jump out in front and tried to steal second. Louie Lambros, making his Giants debut behind the dish, threw a seed and the runner was tagged out by Richie Maccarone. The next hitter dropped a bunt single but was not able to advance past second.
Eamonn Boyd led off for the Giants and lined out to CF. Richie Maccarone worked out a walk and then did what he has done for the Giants all summer. He stole second base, and then third. Spencer Bilello drove a double to deep centerfield to score Maccarone giving the Giants a 1-0 lead, which would prove to be all of the scoring for this game. MacDonald pitched 6 and 2/3 innings before giving up a seventh inning walk. The Giants brought in Pete Cappiello to get the final out. Cappiello’s first pitch was a ball outside. Cappiello held the runner close and threw over to pick off the surprised runner to end the game.
Saturday’s games were played in Robesonia on a field in the middle of the town. It was very quiet until the local freight train meandered through the outfield. Someone counted 135 freight cars being pulled by six engines every 30 minutes or so. The Giants were scheduled to play the Schuylkill Blue Jays. The Giants sent Brandon Lubrano to the bump. Lubrano pitched a four hit complete game, allowing only one unearned run. Unfortunately, the Blue Jay pitcher was equally good and the Giants lost 1-0 on an infield error.
The nightcap was against the Lehigh Valley Vikings. Pete Cappiello took the ball for the start and proceeded to strike out 15 Vikings while allowing only two hits, the first of which didn’t come until the sixth inning. Cappiello was dominant with his fastball and change up. The Giants scored in the second on a Spencer Bilello walk, followed by Chris Theodorou’s single to center. Danny Grabowski drove in Bilello with a single to left for the only run of the game.
Through the first three games, the Giants had played three 1-0 games, winning two and had only given up one run, which would later become an important tie-breaker factor.
The fourth seeding game was to be played on Sunday, Aug. 15 in the light rain, which escalated to a very steady and cold precipitation. The Giants drew the Schulkill Storm. Bilello took the ball for game four. With his 6’ 4” frame and Amish like beard he looked very imposing to the Storm. Bilello pitched two innings before giving the ball to Richie Maccarone to close out the game.
The Storm scored a run in the top of the first. The Giants countered in the second on walks by Theodorou and Lambros. A Bobby MacDonald single drove in two for the Giants lead. The Storm knew that the Giants were seeded at the top of the tournament and wanted to go out with a win which would have dropped the team from Long Island to third or fourth place, or perhaps worse. The Storm countered with a two spot in the third to take the lead at 3-2 as the rain came down harder.
In the Giants half of the third, the Giants bats came alive after Joey Fiorino and Richie Maccarone walked. Cappiello, Bilello and Grabowski singled in runs to give the Giants a 5-3 lead. In the fourth inning, the Giants exploded for seven runs after Lambros walked and moved to second on a ground out. Tom Montefusco, recently signed to a new fall contract, doubled down the right field line to score Lambros. Monty got it all as he drove the ball down the line. “I saw the pitch well and was able to get some good wood on the ball. Coach Bruce has worked with me on rolling my top hand”, Monty added. Eamonn Boyd worked out a walk and then Joey Fiorino blasted a double to score Monty and Boyd. The Giants had their running game working with this tandem of speed on the bases, almost appearing as if there were one horse after another lined up on bases.
Cappiello stepped in the box and ripped an RBI single to left center. Danny Grabowski followed with another RBI single to left and the Giants had suddenly had scored seven to lead 12-3. The Storm scored a meaningless run in the fifth to make the final 12-4.
The Giant hitting leaders for the tournament were Danny Grabowski (.333, 3 RBIs), Pete Cappiello (.300, 2 RBIs), Chris Theodorou (.285), Joey Fiorino (.285, two doubles and 2RBIs), Spencer Bilello and Bobby MacDonald with two RBIs apiece, and Tom Montefusco and Richie Maccarone with an RBI apiece.
The Giants were going to the semi-final game. Unfortunately, the rains did not stop and the tournament director called off the playoff rounds. The Giants finished in second of the total 13 teams and felt some disappointment about the playoff rainouts. The Giants brought some hardware home and will take three weeks off before beginning the fall season with a few new players that joined them in the beautiful and rustic fields of Berks County of PA.