It's on to the finals for the Washington Township Senators
The Senators beat the Philadelphia Blue Claws 13-2 on Saturday at Washington Lake Park behind John DiPietro, and then closed out the series with a 6-1 commplete-game victory from veteran Frank Rose out at Rosyln Park on Sunday. The Senators now move on the division finals vs the South Jersey Hot Stovers.
As they have done all season long, the Senator offense wasted no time getting down to business. Bob Wood led off with a booming double to right field, and Kurt Ley singled him over to third and then promptly stole second. Mark Alessandrini's ground out plated Wood, and a Danny Laudisio single placed runners at the corners.
Laudisio then took off for second, and when the throw went down, Ley was able to scamper home with a second run. Laudisio moved up to third on a wild pitch, and Miles Reader sent him home with an infield ground out to make it 3-0 in a hurry. Blue Claw starter Steve Porrini finally got out of the inning, but not before allowing singles to Hector Colon and Jim Toth.
The Senators stranded two runners in the third, but the bats got busy again in the following frame. Reader started things with a walk, but he was quickly erased when Porrini snared a Colon liner and doubled him off first. No matter. The Senators went to work with two outs yet again.
Toth singled and Porrini walked Chris Johannes and Rose to load the bags. Nick Frese delivered an RBI single to center, and Porrini then walked Mike Fanelli to force in another run. A wild pitch sent a second run home, and Billy Trotman then delivered another clutch hit, this a two-run single that gave the Senators a nice 7-0 buffer. And it could have been even worse, because Wood followed with what looked like a sure single to left. But the ball hopped up and clipped Fanelli's leg, resuluting in the final out of the frame.
The Senators continued the onslaught in the fifth, again starting things with two outs. Laudisio walked, and Reader followed with an RBI double. Colon was hit by a pitch, and Porrini again lost the plate, walking Toth and Johannes to make it 9-0.
DiPietro certainly enjoyed the run properity. He breezed through the first five frames, allowing just three scratch singles. But the Blue Claws finally go on the board in the sixth. Larry Russel and Kirk Nolan singled to start the inning, and after an Anthony Warnock strikeout, Mitch Spritzler singled to load the bases. A wild pitch sent Russel home with a run, but DiPietro got Tom Wilmer on a fly to center and then fanned Greg Weneck to escape further damage.
Porrini went to the bullpen to start the sixth, but they fared no better. Fanelli walked with one out, and Trotman was hit by a pitch. Wood singled a run home, and after Ley grounded out, an infield error produced a second run. And the Senators made the Blue Claws pay for the miscue, as Laudisio and Reader followed with RBI singles to make it 13-1. It was all over but the final count.
The Blue Claws added a run in the eighth. Russel and Nolan again singled to start things, but Nolan was nailed at second by Laudisio when he tried to advance on a wild pitch. Warnock's sacrifice fly delivered the run, but it was too little, too late. Johannes finished things with a shutout ninth, and the Senators had the Game #1 win.
The Nats collected 15 hits, and the Blue Claws hurt themselves with 10 walks to boot. Wood led the charge with three safties, and Reader (three RBI), Laudisio and Toth each had two. The Claws got two hits each from Spritzler, Porrini, Russel, and Nolan. DuPietro finished with six strikeouts, and he scattered 10 hits in picking up the victory.
On Sunday, the venue changed to Rosyln Park, with Rose taking the hill. As usual, the Senators were off and running in the top of the first.
Wood walked, move to second on a wild pitch, and stole third after Ley flew to left. Alessandrini singled him home, and Laudisio and Reader walked to load the bags with one out. But the Senators could muster just the single run, as Colon popped to short and Joe Leo fanned looking to end the inning.
The Claws played small-ball to get a run back in the second. Porrini walked and stole second, and Dennis Hanratty sacrificed him to third. An infield error plated Porrini, sending Russel to second, and Nolan followed with another single. But things went a little haywire for the Claws. Nolan was caught off first by Rose on the step-to-third move, and the Senators were able to retire Russel at the plate on the play. Ron Dalton's fly to center ended the thread with the score holding at 1-1.
In the fourth, the Senators put up a crooked number. Alessandrini led off with an infield grounder that resulted in a bang-bang play at first. The arbiter ruled that the Blue Claws missed the bag on the play, and he got an infield single. Some observers felt the call was missed, but it was certainly a close one.
Alessandrini stole second, and then trotted home on Laudisio's double. Reader singled and stole second, and Colon's groundout produced a second run. Leo followed with a swinging-bunt single, and after he stole second, Toth rocketed a double to left-center to plate them both. Rose reached on an infield error and Frese boomed a single to left, but Bruce Schumin fanned to end the threat with the score 5-1 in favor of the Nats.
Rose picked it up from there. Between the second and fifth innings, the righty retired nine consecutive Blue Claws, aided by some solid defense from Reader, Colon and Ley. And the Senators added a sixth and final tally in their half of the fifth.
Ley doubled, and Laudisio drove him in with a one-out single, but the Claws got a break when the Senator backstop was doubled up on Reader's line out to center.
The Senators looked sure to add more in the sixth. Consecutive singles by Colon, Leo, and Toth started the inning, but Rose smoked a liner that was snared by the Blue Claw hurler and turned into a 1-5 double play. Frese's FC groundout ended that inning with no damage to the Claws.
But the Blue Claw offense could do no more with Rose. He allowed just three hits and two walks the rest of the way, and closed out the complete-game victory in fine fashion.
The Senator offense once again collected 15 hits, with Laudisio leading the way with three. Ley, Alessandrini, Leo, and Toth each had two, with Toth and Laudisio picking up two RBI. The Blue Claws could manage only six hits, and three of those came off the bat of Nolan. The only run Rose allowed was unearned. It was a great effort by the long-time Senator hurler.
And so the Senators move on to the league finals against the tough South Jersey Hot Stovers. Game #1 will be next Sunday at Glassboro's Delsea Drive Park.
Notes: It was a long year for the Blue Claws, as they were unable to achieve a single victory against a 45-year-old opponent. All three of their victories came against the younger competition. Go figure...Kirk Nolan stood out in this series for the Claws, with a 5-for-6 performance at the plate, almost a third of the Blue Claw hits...the Senators were without stars Angel Rivera and Frank Izzi for this series, but that didn't stop them from piling up 30 hits in the two games...Alessandrini had a great catch in center on a Warnock drive in the second game. Not too many outfielders in this division run that one down...Reader (and Fanelli, before pulling a calf muscle) did a superb job at short in Game #2. And Rose was also excellent there in the opener. The Senators are blessed to be deep at just about every position on the field...a Senator-Hot Stover match should be a good one. The Nats took the season series, winning 7-2 and 4-2, and losing 6-5 in the regular season finale at Campbell Field in Camden. But both teams were hot with the bats in their semi-final series. So one wonders what type of series this will be.