CLARK – If it were not for some less-than-stellar fielding by both teams, lefty starters Alec Marcantonio of Dayton and John Stauffer of Johnson might have been locked up in a pitchers’ duel.
However, that was not the case on a very cold and gray Thursday afternoon when the Dayton-Johnson league clash was moved to Johnson High School after Dayton’s field was unplayable due to Wednesday night’s rainfall.
Instead, innings were extended by either glove or throwing errors, while pitchers from both sides yielded almost as many unearned runs as earned.
In an extra-inning game – the first for both teams this season – that included 20 runs, 22 hits, 10 errors, several wild pitches a passed ball, a hit batter, four lead changes and one tie, visiting Dayton came back to outlast host Johnson 11-9 in eight innings in Union County Conference-Mountain Division play.
Dayton won its fourth straight to improve to 4-1 and 3-1 in the Mountain Division.
Johnson fell to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the Mountain.
Dayton scored the winning runs in the top of the eighth after tying the game at 9-9 with a run in the top of the seventh.
Leadoff batter Alex Marcantonio, who on the mound struck out eight in four complete innings before moving over to center field, began the top of the eighth when he reached on an opposite field infield single, with the ball rolling and staying fair inside the chalk before it was picked up. Marcantonio was 3-for-4, with two doubles, his infield single and three runs. The junior lefty batter reached base safely four of five times.
Mike DePalma then reached on an error after Johnson junior righty relief pitcher Matt Berko dove and almost caught his sacrifice bunt attempt.
With runners on second and third and nobody out, junior lefty batter Joe Iuliano drove in Marcantonio with a ground out to second to give Dayton a 10-9 advantage. Iuliano, Dayton’s catcher, was 1-for-5, with one single, two RBI and the game-winning RBI.
Cleanup batter Chas Bohannon, Dayton’s top senior, produced an important insurance run when he delivered a sacrifice fly to right, scoring DePalma.
In the bottom of the eighth, Johnson had runners on second and third when senior catcher Kyle Pender – who previously delivered an RBI-single in the fifth – flied out to Marcantonio in center for the game’s final out.
Junior right hander Tommy Walsh pitched the final four innings for Dayton, not allowing a hit or run in the seventh and eighth.
Dayton was able to extend its winning streak in a game that took just under three hours to complete.
Johnson led 3-1 after the first inning before Dayton went ahead 6-4 in the top of the third. Dayton extended its lead to 8-4 in the fifth before Johnson pulled to within 8-7 in the bottom of the fifth.
Johnson took its second lead at 9-8 with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, with junior lefty batter Mike Boulanger producing an opposite field two-run double, his blast hitting the bottom of the left field fence on a bounce.
While a possible game-ending double play could not be executed by Johnson in the top of the seventh, Bohannon came around to score the run that made it 9-9. Bohannon led off the seventh with an infield single.
“Everyone was mentally strong for us,” Bohannon, a returning starter, said. “Tommy was awesome on the mound and Alec threw strikes.”
Bohannon was 3-for-4, with two singles, one double, three runs, two RBI and a fine over-the-shoulder catch at first base. Sophomore left fielder Mike Iuliano was 3-for-5, with two doubles, a single, two runs and an RBI. He reached base safely five of his six times up.
“We have a young team and the field was tough and they continued to battle,” said fourth-year Dayton head coach Mike Abbate.
Stauffer pitched seven innings complete, including scoreless frames in the second, fourth and sixth innings. His pitching record remains 0-0, with two no-decisions in two starts.
“We didn’t help him out with our fielding, fifth-year Johnson head coach Dave Kennedy said.
The double for Boulanger was his third extra-base hit in Johnson’s last two games, including a triple and home run in Tuesday’s 6-2 division win at Oratory Prep.
“Mike has some good power and the ability to hit the ball the other way,” Kennedy said.
Johnson leadoff batter Matt Dunn produced two hits. The senior shortstop was 2-for-4, with two singles, a walk and one run.
Johnson cleanup batter, senior center fielder Jay Shapiro, was 1-for-3, with a single, three runs, two walks and one RBI. He also reached base safely four times in five trips to the plate.
“I thought we swung the bats better at times,” Kennedy said.
UNION COUNTY CONFERENCE-MOUNTAIN DIVISION BASEBALL
DAYTON (4-1, 3-1) 1 0 5 0 2 0 1 2 – 11 15 3
JOHNSON (2-3, 2-2) 3 1 0 0 3 2 0 0 – 9 7 7
WINNING PITCHER: Tommy Walsh.
LOSING PITCHER: Matt Berko.
DOUBLES: Dayton – Alec Marcantonio 2, Mike Iuliano 2, Mike DePalma, Chas Bohannon.
Johnson – Victor Rizzuto, Charlie Riechers, Mike Boulanger.
TRIPLES: Dayton – None. Johnson – None.
HOME RUNS: Dayton – None. Johnson – None.