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Taconic Rallies in Sixth to Edge Pope Francis

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports - Print
06:57PM / Sunday, May 19, 2024


PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Christian Salzarulo lifted a ground rule double deep to left field to break a 6-6 tie in the bottom of the sixth and send the Taconic baseball team on to an 8-6 win over Pope Francis on Sunday.
 
Salzarulo went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and scored three times in addition to driving home Gavin O’Donnell to give the Thunder the lead for good in a back-and-forth regular season finale.
 
“I was looking for a fast ball early, got one I wanted and took a hack at it,” Salzarulo said of the game-winning at-bat.
 
The victory snapped a three-game skid for Taconic, which enters this week’s Western Massachusetts Class B Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the region.
 
It also saw the Thunder get its highest run total in a game since back on April 25, when Taconic beat crosstown rival Pittsfield, 10-0.
 
That afternoon, Taconic won to improve to 6-2. Since then, it is 5-5, including a loss in the rematch with the Generals.
 
On the other hand, Taconic’s Sunday win gave it a two-game sweep of the Class A Cardinals.
 
“I was hoping for a little cleaner game,” Taconic coach Kevin Stannard said. “Nine hits – we’ll take that. That’s a record for us in this half of the year, so that’s a positive going forward. 
 
“The other [positive] is we’re home Tuesday against East Longmeadow, so we don’t have to travel and get on a bus. We’ll take it – beating a Division 1 school and the second time we beat them this year.”
 
Taconic drew first blood on Sunday morning with a run in the bottom of the second.
 
Quentin Christopher got things started with an infield single and moved up on an errant pickoff throw. Mitchell Hall sacrificed Christopher to third base, and he scored on Christian Aldrich’s RBI groundout to make it 1-0.
 
Pope came back with a pair of runs in the top of the third, but Taconic answered right away, scoring four times in the bottom of the inning.
 
Eddie Ferris got the rally started with a one-out single, and Salzarulo and Damon Pause walked to load the bases.
 
Christopher then reached on a two-base error that also plated Ferris and Salzarulo. Ethan O’Donnell singled up the middle to drive in Pause and send Christopher to third, and Christopher scored on a passed ball to make it 5-2, Taconic.
 
But the Cardinals came right back, scoring three times in a fourth-inning rally highlighted by Johnny Gosselin’s two-run single. And the visitors took a 6-5 lead in the fifth.
 
Pope’s fourth error of the game produced a tyingrun for Taconic in the bottom of the fifth. Salzarulo reached on a leadoff single, moved up on a walk and a ground ball and scored when Hall reached on an error to make it 6-6.
 
Taconic had a chance to pull ahead, but the Cardinals’ Brady Balint left the bases loaded to keep it a tie game.
 
The Thunder did not miss its chance one inning later.
 
Gavin O’Donnell led off with a single to left and took second base on a bobble. With one out, Salzarulo hit his second double of the game to bring O’Donnell home.
 
Salzarulo then went to third on Pause’ infield single and scored on Christoper’s groundout to give Taconic some insurance.
 
Taconic and Pope Francis, which opens Western Mass tourney play on Tuesday at Minnechaug, each used four pitchers in the rain-rescheduled, Sunday morning contest.
 
Stannard said he did not think his pitchers did a great job – walking four, hitting four and giving up eight hits – but, in the end, they did what they had to do – stranding nine runners – and they got good defensive support.
 
“Chase [Wendling] made that great play in the seventh, covered a lot of ground,” Stannard said, referring to the inning’s first out, which Wendling ran down in foul territory. “To make that catch, it’s tough. That ground is moving up and down as you’re running that far. So hat’s off to him.
 
“And then the double play was smooth to end the game. We’ll take it.”
 
Connor Paronto, who threw three innings for the Thunder, got the win when shortstop Salzarulo gathered a ground ball and fed Christopher at second, who relayed to Evan Roccabruna at first to end it.
 

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