Up until Thursday morning, the Westlake baseball team was still searching for its first win of the season. By late in the afternoon, the Wildcats suddenly had two of them.
Led by the complete-game pitching of Tom Iazzetta and a two-run double off the bat of Vin Spaziante that sparked a five-run fourth inning, the Wildcats rolled to a 10-2 home victory over Pawling, completing a productive day begun hours earlier with a lopsided road win over Yonkers Montessori Academy.
“We’ve got a ways to go, but today was a good day for us,” said Wildcats coach John Consorti shortly after watching Iazzetta close out the win over Pawling with a pair of strikeouts. “Hopefully we continue to improve and get better each day.”
Westlake had begun the day 0-2, but just a few hours after Vince Sica pitched six innings in a 13-3 rout of host YMA the Wildcats were back home on their own field looking to put together a modest winning streak. The Tigers, though, jumped on the scoreboard first in their initial turn at the plate against Iazzetta as Dave Bellucci belted a two-out triple and then stole home.
“I’ll take the responsibility for that,” said Consorti about the steal of home. “We usually have our pitchers go from the stretch. He went from the windup and they caught us a little bit on that. But we made the correction later in the game.”
Pawling’s early lead didn’t last very long. Belucci, slated to start on the mound for the Tigers, was replaced before tossing a single pitch after tweaking his leg on his awkward slide across home plate moments earlier. New pitcher Brian Beehler yielded a leadoff walk to Iazzetta and a single to left one out later by Tom Carpenter. Then with two outs, Kyle DeCuffa grounded a two-run single down the right-field line.
The Tigers scored an unearned run to tie the game in the top of the second. But Iazzetta stranded a pair of runners by ending the inning with his first strikeout of the afternoon. In the third, Belucci, able to bat if not pitch, smacked a long one-out double to the gap in right-center field. He was stranded at second as Iazzetta retired Matt Kuhlmann on a grounder to third and Tyler Schilb with a strikeout.
The Wildcats grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the third inning when Carpenter led off by ripping a double to left field, stole third base and soon scored on Dave DeLoughry’s sacrifice fly. If there was a turning point, it came in the top of the fourth as Pawling got a leadoff triple to right by Beehler and then failed to get him home.
Iazzetta escaped unscathed, stranding Beehler at third, by retiring Jake Golodner on a fly to right field, Alex Alcera on a pop out to second baseman Mike Perfito in short right and then Joe Foster on a comebacker to the mound.
“Yeah, that was a big inning for us,” said Consorti. “Tommy did a nice job getting out of it.”
Joe Ruggiero led off the bottom of the fourth for the Wildcats with a walk. Pawling then turned to Belluci, who apparently recovered sufficiently enough to pitch in relief. Matt Marcella, who had belted a homer, triple and double in the win over YMA, lined out to right, but Iazzetta reached safely on a fielder’s choice. With teammates on first and second, Spaziante slammed his big two-run double to the gap in left-center field, stretching Westlake’s lead to 5-2. The Wildcats soon added three more runs in the inning without even hitting the ball out of the infield.
Pawling, suddenly trailing by six runs, squandered a chance to get a little closer in the fifth inning as Iazzetta picked off both Billy Pizzolongo, who had reached on an infield hit, and Belucci, who walked with two outs.
“Honestly, last year he didn’t have much of a move,” said Consorti about Iazzetta, a sophomore southpaw. “This year, he worked hard in the offseason on his move and it’s obviously a weapon now. So between his move and Spaz behind the plate throwing, it’s a good combination for us. It’s a weapon to have. He did an excellent job with that today.”
With one out in the sixth, Pawling got back-to-back singles from Schilb and Beehler. But again Iazzetta pitched out of trouble, retiring Sean Mooney on a pop to second and Alcera on another comebacker. The Wildcats tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Perfito’s two-out RBI single to right.
Pawling went meekly in its last chance against Iazzetta, whose pitch count was still in the mid-70 range as he walked to the mound for the seventh inning. Zach Smith grounded to short and both Pizzolongo and Joe Furlong were strikeout victims, ending the game.
For Westlake, it was quite a contrast from its game earlier in the week against North Salem when 18 Wildcats struck out in a 3-0 eight-inning loss.
“The kids have rebounded since then, getting back to some fundamentals of much better approaches at the plate,” said Consorti. “I think we’re headed in the right direction. We have a young team. We’re starting about five or six sophomores, so it takes a little time. But things are improving.”