By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Luke Westervelt received the game ball. The gesture barely seemed to equal the effort. With bat, glove and arm the Penfield shortstop led the way.
Westervelt triggered a decisive five-run third with a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle as the Patriots went on to defeat the Fairport Raiders 8-3 in Monroe County League action on Friday.
Westervelt plated Jack Burke and Ryan Kalbfus when he drilled a 1-1 fastball.
“The best you can do is get a base hit, so I was just looking for my pitch,” Westervelt said. “Got one right down the middle, and I was able to do what I‘ve been taught to do.”
Logan Martella-Tasick started the inning with a single to left. Burke reached when he beat out his sacrifice bunt, and Kalbfus loaded the bases with a bloop single to right.
Fairport starter Trevor Povlock looked like he would escape the jam when he induced a 5-2-3 double play, but Westervelt kept the rally going.
“He’s playing like a senior leader,” Penfield coach Nick Marcin said of his shortstop. “He’s gotten so much more mature at the plate and the bats he’s been grinding out for us.”
Paul Cullen reached on an error before Mike Pickett delivered with an inside-out swing sending a single through the right side of the infield plating two.
“We’ve done that a few times this year,” Marcin said of the two-out rally. “We don’t worry about two outs. We don’t worry about two strikes. We just keep playing hard, and these guys keep believing in each other. They believe that until that third out is recorded the inning is still going.”
“They got the timely hits when they needed them,” Fairport coach Brian Reed noted. “They had a situation where we almost got out of it, and then they capitalized on it with a couple of clutch hits. We couldn’t find those clutch hits.”
A wild pitch made it 6-0 Penfield.
Fairport rallied for three runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Evan Newkirk was the headlight with a single. Two outs later, Jake Rugaber walked, and Nick Turturro brought the Raiders first run of the day with a base hit to shallow center. A passed ball and wild pitch brought home two more runs.
“We scored three the next inning, so I was happy with it,” Reed stated. “We are going to battle no matter what. We are going to stay in there.”
Kyle Straube picked up the win. The right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits. He walked three and struck out eight over four and a third innings of work.
“He’s a grinder,” Marcin said of his starter. “Kyle is very cerebral. He’s very calm. He’s always in control. He’s very smart.
“He’s somebody that we know it we can get him through that bumpy inning, he can settle back in and get us three, four, five more outs, and that’s what he did.”
“In the third inning I struggled a little bit with my control,” Straube said. “Everything was down. I went in and talked to my pitching coach. Talked to me about using more legs. With the flat mound I was a little low in the zone, used more legs and that’s how I rebounded.”
Cullen came on in relief and pitched two and two-thirds of shutout ball.
“He goes about his business,” Marcin said of his reliever. “He doesn’t seem like the moment ever gets to him. He just focuses on what he has to do.”
Fairport threatened in the sixth. Mike Sabatine started the stanza with a double to left center, but Westervelt made a pair of smooth plays at short to retire the next two batters. It looked like Chad Riorden would keep the inning alive when his hard hit ball kicked off the glove of Pickett at third, but Westervelt alertly made a barehanded play and came up throwing to get Sabatine at home for the final out of the inning.
“I wasn’t even ready for it,” Westervelt explained. “I saw the ball bounce out. Just picked it up barehanded and launched it…It was a momentum killer.”
Cullen doubled home a run for Penfield in the fifth. Kalbfus doubled and scored on Westervelt’s two-out single in the sixth.
Burke, Cullen and Martella-Twick all collected two hits.
Sabatine reached base three times with a hit and two walks.
Penfield improves to 7-0. The Patriots plays at Greece Athena on Monday.
Fairport falls to 5-2. The Raiders play Webster-Schroeder at Basket Road Field next Wednesday.