Justin Silvestro’s bases loaded infield single, with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, proved to be the difference when the Lexington Blue Sox edged the Chiefs 3-2 in the second game of their best of five Intercity League championship series.
The series is now tied at one game each with the pivotal third game scheduled for Morelli Field on Friday night at 8:00 PM. Game Four will be played at Morelli on Sunday night at 7:30 PM. If a Game Five is needed, it will be contested on Tuesday night at 8:00 PM.
The game featured a fine pitching matchup between two seasoned ICL veterans, Mike DiCato of the Chiefs and Matt Karis of the Blue Sox.
Karis set the Chiefs down in order in the top of the first inning. The Blue Sox used doubles from leadoff man Jeff Vigurs and cleanup hitter Dave Ahern to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning.
The Chiefs came right back to tie things up at 1-1 in the top of the second, without the benefit of a hit, but could have come away with much more. Karis hit Johnny Welch with the first pitch of the inning and Mike Gedman reached on an error by shortstop Steve Gath. Peter Copa (pictured) then drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Mike Andre was next and he hit a sharp grounder down the first base line that was knocked down by a diving Tommy Haugh. Welch scored on the play and Andre got an RBI, but was thrown out at first with Karis covering the bag. Karis then came up huge, with two runners in scoring position, when he struck out Mike Barbati and Paul Yanakopulos in succession to keep it a tie game.
DiCato struck out Mike Hart and Ross Curley in a 1-2-3 bottom of the second. Karis matched that plus in the top of the third, when he struck out the Chiefs’ side (Tony Serino, Juan Portes & Welch) with a walk to Billy Mottram mixed in.
It was solo home run derby in the fourth inning. Copa gave the Chiefs a 2-1 when he sent a Karis pitch off the light pole in left. Ahern went the same route in the bottom of the inning with a shot to left-center that tied the game back up at 2-2.
Karis set down the top of the Chiefs order again in the top of the fifth (Serino & Mottram groundouts and Portes strikeout).
The Blue Sox got a leadoff single from Haugh leading off the bottom of the fifth. Will Marcal attempted to bunt him to second but a charging Welch made a fine play and gunned out Haugh at second for the first out. Hart was next and he bounced into a 6-4-3 doubleplay.
The Chiefs had a bigtime chance to take the lead in the top of the sixth but came up empty. Welch and Gedman led off the inning with consecutive singles. With Copa at the plate, Welch went to third on a wild pitch to put runners on the corners with no outs. Copa then hit a fly to medium depth centerfield that was caught by Hart who then threw a perfect strike to the plate to get the tagging Welch on a close play. With Gedman still at first, Karis got Andre to groundout to end the inning.
The Blue Sox got the game winner without getting the ball out of the infield in the bottom of the sixth. DiCato started the inning strong when he got Vigurs to groundout and then struck out Curley. Trouble began to brew when DiCato walked Gath on a 3-1 pitch and then hit Ahern with a 1-0 pitch. With the left-handing hitting Graham at the plate and the go ahead run in scoring position, Gedman came on in relief but walked him to load the bases. Another lefty was next in Silvestro and he hit a hard grounder up the middle that Barbati made an extraordinary diving stop on. The second baseman just couldn’t recover in time to get the force at second as Gath came across the plate to make it 3-2. With the bases still loaded, Gedman got Haugh on a groundout to Barbati to keep it a one run contest heading into the seventh.
Barbati grounded out to Gath at shortstop for the first out of the seventh. The Chiefs then caught a brief break when Yanakopulos reached on Gath’s throwing error. The veteran shortstop quickly made amends and gloved a Serino grounder up the middle and turned it into 6-unassisted-3 doubleplay to end the game.
DiCato worked 5.2 innings, allowed four hits, walked one and hit a batter.
Karis went the distance giving up just four hits as well while striking out eight and walking a couple.
The # 1 seeded Chiefs will be home team in Friday’s Game Three at Morelli.
(Bruce Tillman- www.andrechiefs.com , Bruce Hack-stats& boxscore (Pointstreak.com), Jim Valente-photo)