By Danny Lopriore
Pleasantville righthander Danny Keon pitched four scoreless innings and the Panthers’ defense and relief pitching held on to an early lead Friday in a 7-4 victory over visiting Pawling at Parkway Field.
Keon allowed just one hit and struck out four in the win and the Panthers stretched their unbeaten season-opening winning streak to seven games after building a 7-0 lead after four innings.
“I was fine, no problem, so with a big lead Coach (Dan Iorio) got to use some of the guys who have been pitching well in relief,” Keon said. “I think my curveball was really good, throwing them off balance. I was finishing off with my fastball. They were a little behind on it. The defense made some good plays backing me up.”
Nick Salzarulo drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning, then doubled home another to ignite a six-run fourth-inning outburst. He attributed the team’s early success to a recent Florida trip.
“We had strict practices, played in scrimmages and played one game, but it helped get us going,” Salzarulo said. “We are doing a lot of little things to win. I just try to put the ball in play, whether it’s a sac fly or to drive the ball for a hit. We’re getting guys on base a lot. We have to take advantage of opportunities.”
Catcher Michael Matica, who has been handling what appears to be an emerging deep staff, likes the balance of this year’s team.
“We started off with Danny (Melillo), who pitched a great game, and then brought in guys who are contributing this year,” Matica said. “Colin (Finnegan) has had a couple of saves already and has made a big contribution. The important thing is that we’re throwing strikes and the defense is playing well. I love catching these guys.”
Pawling, now 5-2, put together a rally in the fifth inning to close the gap to 7-4, but could get no closer as Panther relievers Justin Perelman and Finnegan went the last three innings. Finnegan struck out the final two batters of the game and allowed no runs in a clean 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn the save.
Panthers second baseman Massimo Stinziani went 1 for 2 with a double and two runs batted in, while third baseman Brendan O’Neill added two hits, including a triple that plated Salzarulo in the fourth for a 3-0 lead.
“So far, we’ve been playing well in all aspects of the game, especially defensively,” Panthers head coach Dan Iorio said. “Pitching has been very good and our hitting, we’ve been able to apply pressure, playing small ball. In our last game, we bunted six times, forcing the other team to make mistakes. It worked in our favor.”
Iorio said the coaching staff is regulating the pitching staff to be sure arms are healthy.
“We’re watching pitch count and have to be strategic in how we use the guys,” Iorio said. “But we’ve been calling on guys who haven’t pitched much in the past to help our starters. Colin is one guy who has done that for us. He pitched well three times for us this week and he has never pitched for us before. That really helps keeping pitchers fresh.”
The Panthers get into the heart of the season this week, playing border rival Briarcliff twice in a key home-and-home series. The Bears host Wednesday’s game, while Friday’s will be played at Parkway.
Examiner Media – Keeping you informed with professionally-reported local news, features, and sports coverage.