By Mike Zummo
If you look at the building in the Pine Bush Town Park, you will see pictures of the Pine Bush Junior Little League with District 19 banners from 2018 and 2019.
Obviously, there’s no banner from 2019 due to the cancellations from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the Pine Bush Little League junior baseball players haven’t skipped a beat as they captured another District 19 flag for the program, beating Wallkill Area, 12-2, on Wednesday night at the Pine Bush Town Park.
Yes, Wednesday, not the day before. Not the previous Saturday, or any other day that the game might have been played but wasn’t due to weather.
“We’re relieved,” Pine Bush manager Sven Demar said. “We’re very excited for the boys and ourselves. We’re just finally glad to play the game after I don’t know how many rainouts we had – showing up and going home, showing home. It gets really frustrating after a while.”
Wednesday night, however, Pine Bush was patient and was able take advantage of Wallkill Area’s difficulty finding the strike zone scoring nine runs in the game’s first two innings.
“That’s how these boys have come out every game,” Demar said. “We’ve come out swinging the bats, making hits and playing strong and tying to get up on the other team quick.”
Wallkill starting pitcher Marco Futia started strong, retiring the first two batters and then Pine Bush did all its damage with two outs.
Kurt Fisher got things started with a single and Mike Joerger followed with one of his own. Then Futia walked the next two batters to let in Pine Bush’s first run. Robert Lawrence singled home two runs before Jonah Demar walked to load the bases again.
After eight batters, Bryce Buchalter replaced Futia on the mound and walked Brian Murtagh and Zach Graziano to let in two more Pine Bush runs. Then, Jake Pawlowski hit a little blooper that landed in a no man’s land between the pitcher’s mound and second base to score Pine Bush’s sixth run.
Buchalter finally got out of the inning right where it started, as Fisher flew out to left field.
Buchalter walked the leadoff batter in the second inning and was replaced by Mason Franklin, who promptly gave up a double to Ryan Shust. Stephen Moser singled home a run and Murtaugh chased home another when he grounded into a fielder’s choice. Another run came in when Pawlowski reached on an error.
But from there, Franklin calmed things down, keeping Pine Bush off the board for the next two innings.
Wallkill put up a run in the fifth inning when Pablo Acosta scored on a wild pitch.
Pine Bush threatened to end the game by the 10-run rule in the fifth inning when they scored a run on Lawrence’s bases-loaded walk, but with two outs, Mike Vesely came in with the game-ending run on third base and sent the game to the sixth.
After Futia delivered an RBI single in the sixth inning to cut Pine Bush’s lead to eight innings, Vesely got in trouble in the bottom of the inning. Murtagh singled and went to second on an errant pickoff.
He scored on Graziano’s RBI single. Graziano stole second and scored on Shust’s game-ending single, sending Pine Bush to the Section 3 tournament.
Pine Bush is scheduled to play its first Section 3 game on Sunday afternoon in Pine Bush against the winner of Friday’s game between the District 18 and 20 champions.
“Every time, we’ve had great pitching,” Demar said. “Our defense is there and they swing the bat. These kids make plays happen and that wins ballgames.”