Sometimes, the best offense is a good defense. And that defense is good enough for a victory.
Hills West nailed four West Babylon runners trying to steal or on pickoffs, and managed just enough clutch hitting, to defeat the Eagles 4-3 in League IV action on Wednesday. The teams have split the first two of their three game set, with game three Saturday afternoon.
Visiting West Babylon entered the day undefeated in league play, including an 8-3 win over the Colts on Monday. It looked like more of the same on this day, as Eagles starter Kevin Angiulo shut down West through the first three innings. The visitors scratched out runs in the first and fourth off Colts starter Remy Janco.
But Janco picked off runners in the both the second and third to prevent further damage, and it would be the strong Colts defense that would be the difference, and eventually let the offense pitch in.
"That's how we're going to win," Colts shortstop James Barone said. "We're not the best hitting team, but the fact we can do these defensive things really helps us out, gets us out of innings."
In the bottom of the fourth, West first baseman Mike Kaufman lashed an RBI-triple, and he scored the tying run on Dylan Mouzakes' bunt single. West Babylon notched three straight hits in the fifth to re-take the lead, but Janco got Eagles DH Nick Buturla to groundout, stranding two runners.
"Remy showed a lot of guts today," Colts coach Tom Migliozzi said. "He didn't have his best stuff...he definitely showed some guts and did what he had to do to win."
In the fifth, Colts third baseman Luke Stampfl singled, and scored the tying run on Barone's triple to left.
"I was looking for anything relatively over the plate," Barone said. "That last pitch, a curveball, I saw it right out of his hand, and hit it."
Barone scored the go-ahead run on Kaufman's sac fly, and the Colts defense kept the team on top, with catcher Matt Cabezon nailing Jordan Goldman trying to steal second in the sixth, and doing the same to Nick Disanza in the seventh.
"We have two very good lefties in Janco and Kaufman," Migliozzi said. "Especially in high school, it gives other teams a lot of difficulty trying to move baserunners."
The Eagles got the potential tying run on base in the final inning again, but Janco got Dominick Penna to ground out, and the win was in the bag. Janco went the distance, giving up 14 hits, walking one and fanning eight. Stampfl had two hits, and Kaufman had two RBIs.
The win put Hills West back at .500 at 4-4, while West Babylon fell to 7-2. Migliozzi knows the offense needs to heat up if the Colts are to continue to climb the ranks of their division.
"Our pitch selection is probably as bad as its going to be," he said. "We're swinging at the wrong pitches, it's not that our swings our bad, it's just that we're not swinging at the right pitches."
On this day at least, the defense was right on the money.