By Paul Gotham
ROCHESTER, NY – Hoping to get a few solid innings, Mike Kelly chose to start a freshman for the first game of the post-season. The head coach of Monroe Community College baseball got what he wanted and then some.
Dylan Sheffer (Penfield, NY/Penfield) tossed a complete game shutout as the MCC Tribunes convincingly defeated the Genesee Community Cougars, 7-0 to open the Region III D2 tournament at Tribunes Field, Friday afternoon.
Sheffer scattered six hits and stranded 12 base-runners for his fourth win of the season.
“I didn’t really expect that,” Kelly said of Sheffer’s outing. “I knew he could throw five, six shutout innings. I didn’t know he’d throw nine.”
After working through bases loaded situations in the first and fourth, Sheffer faced the minimum in the sixth through the eighth.
“Just a very, very gutsy performance by a freshman,” Kelly continued. “In all my years that might be the first time I sent out a freshman on the first day and for him to go nine was great. We really didn’t even have a thought of bringing anybody else in.”
Sheffer worked out of trouble in the first that wasn’t completely his fault. He fanned the first batter of the game then surrendered a single before getting a fly ball. A two-out ground ball looked like the end of the inning, but it struck the infield umpire putting a pair of runners on board. A hit batsman loaded the bases before the right-hander retired the side on a come-backer.
“Thought that was the third out,” Sheffer said of the ball glancing off the umpire. “Just making the pitch and getting the last out of the inning.”
The freshman kept Genesee off balance craftily mixing speeds throughout the game lowering his ERA to 1.88.
“I was throwing mostly off-speed today. No fast balls,” Sheffer explained. “This team sits fast balls. I could throw my off-speed any time in the count.”
Monroe got all the runs it needed in the second.
Angel Rosario (Bridgeport, CT/Bullard Havens) highlighted a five-run inning with an opposite field single scoring two runs.
“He threw it on the outer part of the plate where I like it,” Rosario recalled. “I just drove it to left field.”
Danny Mendick (Pittsford, NY/ Pittsford Mendon) and AJ Kehlenbeck (Oakfield, NY/ Oakfield-Alabama) came around to score on the play.
“It was important for us to get an early lead,” Roasario noted. “It got us off to a great start.”
Angel Diaz (Humacao, PR/Geneva) jump started the inning with a one-out single through the left side of the infield. Kehlenbeck followed with a base hit. Mendick plated Diaz with Monroe’s first run of the game.
After Brett Sanders (Greece, NY/ Greece Olympia) moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt, Rosario struck, and then the Tribunes took advantage of two Genesee miscues.
Rayshelon Carolina (Willemstad, Curacao/ St. Jozef Secondary) beat out an infield single and forced an errant throw allowing Rosario to score. Carolina came home as Brad Kaczka (Pittsford, NY/ Pittsford-Sutherland) got aboard when his hard hit ball was mishandled.
“You’re not going to win games if you don’t put pressure on the defense,” Kelly explained. “You got to hit hard ground balls. You got hit balls into the gaps. Our foot speed helps us. They can’t just sit back and throw the baseball across the field. We’re going to run out of the box hard. If they do the slightest thing wrong we usually make it work against them.”
The Tribs added two in the sixth.
Carolina and Kaczka worked back-to-back one-out walks. After a double steal, Vinny Bomasuto (Dunkirk, NY/ Dunkirk) brought home both with a hit.
Diaz and Kehlenbeck each had two hits.
The Tribunes take on Mercyhurst Northeast, Saturday. The Saints lost earlier in the day to GCC. A Monroe triumph eliminates Mercyhurst from post-season play. First pitch is scheduled for noon at Tribunes Field.