CRESSON – Al D’Elia – manager of the New York entry in the 75th AAABA Tournament – was happy to win the coin flip to determine the home team in Thursday’s early quarterfinal game at Mount Aloysius College.
It only took Buffalo Royal Printing about two hours to change his mood, as it nickel and dimed D’Elia’s Long Island Astros into elimination, cashing in on a chance to play in the tournament semifinals with a 12-2 victory at Mount Aloyisius College.
The game was ended after seven innings as a result of the 10-run rule. Rarely still alive this deep in the tourney, Buffalo will face perennial power New Orleans today.
“We’ve had three teams finish second in the tournament. It’s been probably 30 years,” Royal Printing manager Bob Carnevale said, referring to the 1980 team that fell in the finals to Baltimore. “It’s been so long since we had a semifinal team, I can’t remember when. I’m overwhelmed with emotion.”
Buffalo wasn’t flashy in its dissection. Nine of Royal Printing’s 11 hits were singles – it didn’t have an extra-base hit until the sixth inning when it already was ahead 6-2. Buffalo also took advantage of four walks and two hit batsmen.
“We weren’t trying to do too much at the plate. I think that really helped us. We had a lot of clutch hitting,” left fielder Ross Mistretta said. “I’m just happy to be here (in the tournament) still.
“Hopefully we can go all the way, or at least stay as long as we can.”
Mistretta was a key contributor, going 3-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs. Mistretta scored in the first and singled in two in the second.
Buffalo plated runs in every inning but the fourth and the fifth, busting loose for seven runs in its final two at-bats.
Seven Royal Printing batters hit safely, with Ryan Voight posting two hits and two RBIs and Max Giordano adding two hits.
Jack Putney knocked in three runs.
“(On Wednesday), we only won 2-1. We didn’t have our best at-bats. We were going out of our comfort zone and swinging at bad pitches. Today we really worked the count, got some walks, worked our way on base,” Putney said. “It’s really something else (to advance this far). I knew coming down here we had an outstanding team, with good pitching and hitting.”
Erik Johnson went the distance for Buffalo. After surrendering a two-run homer to John Castiglione with one out in the second, Johnson retired eight of the next nine Astros he faced.
He finished with a five-hitter, striking out six and walking two.
“Early on, I was just trying to find what was working. As the game went on, it just got easier and easier. Everything was working, and the defense played great behind me, picking me up when I needed them,” Johnson said.
New York had entered the quarterfinal matchup as the higher seed after winning Pool B with a 2-1 record.
“We got one shot, and that was it. It was one of those days you take your hat off to the pitcher. He was fabulous,” D’Elia said.
“We didn’t pitch very well today, and we couldn’t hit.
“That’s pretty much it. Every bounce just went the wrong way. It’s baseball.”
Buffalo, meanwhile, will be looking to continue its Cinderella run.
“This is a nice, hard-working team. But I know, from here on, we’re going to be playing teams every bit as good as we are,” Carnevale said. “If we play the way we did today, we have a chance – good defense, excellent offense, excellent pitching.
“Every facet of our game today was on.”