Monday, August 9, 2010

Pugliese cuffs Bandits, leads Outlaws in victory

Fifth-seeded Eagan hung with top-seed Savage for most of the game, but Outlaws pitcher Travis Pugliese held the Bandits bats at bay as he led his team to a 3-0 win yesterday in Elko.

“That’s why he’s our ace,” said Savage manager Travis Peterson about Pugliese’s performance. “In big games, he’s the one we go to. I thought he was outstanding today, especially in these conditions.”

In mid-90s humid heat at Elko’s Frederickson Field, Pugliese pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout as Savage (13-4 in Cannon Valley League play, 30-8 overall) defeated Eagan in its first game of the second round of the Section 5B playoffs.

On the other side of the diamond, Bandits ace Matt Johnson worked hard in going eight strong innings to keep his team in the game. The Eagan starter allowed 12 hits and four walks, but only three runs (two earned).

“He’s been great for us for years,” said Eagan manager Brandon Paetznick, regarding Johnson, “he throws strikes, mixes pitches well, and does exactly what he needs to keep guys like Savage down.”

With 11 singles, two doubles, four walks and a hit batsman for the game, the Outlaws had their scoring chances, but Johnson was able to induce three double plays and strand 11 base runners.

“We left a village on the base paths,” remarked Savage’s Peterson following the game.

Despite some opportunities, runs were at a premium in this game, especially for Eagan - who’s overall record fell to 15-15.

At one point, Pugliese retired 10 straight batters and 15 out of 16. But Savage only led 2-0 in the top of the sixth when the Bandits had their big chance to break through.

Eagan co-manager / outfielder Billy Denet led off with a drive to medium-depth left center. With a lot of hustle and a nifty slide, Denet was able to stretch his hit into a double.

Five batters later, after Bandits Tony Johnson and Roy Larson were able to work walks, Eagan’s dangerous five-hitter, first baseman Ryan Sward, came up with the bases loaded and two outs.

“That was really our big chance, we had up who we wanted,” said skipper Paetznick, “Sward’s been clutch for us all year, I thought he’d come through but he just got under it.”

Pugliese was able to get Sward to swing underneath a 1-0 offering and send a harmless fly to left field to end the Eagan threat.

Later, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Savage was looking to add some insurance runs. With runners on first and second and two outs, the Outlaws finally got a clutch hit.

Designated hitter Zach Harazin smashed a 2-2 pitch from Johnson hard up the middle for an RBI single to score pinch runner Brandon Walczak and put Savage up by three.

“[Harazin] came up clutch,” said Peterson about his DH, “Zach has quietly had a pretty good season with the bat and it really showed today.”

Harazin finished his day as one of five Outlaw batters with two hits. He and first baseman John Means were arguably the offensive stars of the day, with Means reaching base in all four of his plate appearances - going 2-for-2 with a walk, hit by pitch and an RBI.

Following Harazin’s hit, Savage had a chance to add more as a Dylan Peterson single loaded up the bases for pinch hitter Dusty Otto. But, as was the case throughout the game, Eagan’s Johnson was able to escape the jam by by getting Otto to pop up to the catcher.

No more runs were necessary, however, as Savage’s Pugliese finished what he started by retiring six of the last seven Bandits batters to earn the complete game victory.

“Pugliese, on the mound, has always given us a chance to win even when we’re not putting runs up on the board” remarked Harazin, “a shutout, that’s pretty characteristic of him.”

The Savage win - coupled with Burnsville’s win over Elko later on in the day - means the Outlaws will now face their nemesis Bobcats tonight with the winner earning a spot in the Class B State Tournament. Game time is slated for 7:30 at Elko’s Frederickson Field.

Eagan, on the other hand, is now in must-win mode if it wishes to keep its season alive. The Bandits will face the Elko Express tomorrow night at 7:30, this game is also in Elko.

Notable individual efforts:
Savage Outlaws
~ Travis Pugliese: 9 IP, CG, W, 4 Hs, 7 Ks, 3 BBs
~ Zach Harazin: 2-for-4, RBI
~ John Means: 2-for-2, RBI, HBP, BB
~ Taylor Rahm: 2-for-4, 2B, R, Sac Bunt

Eagan Bandits
~ Matt Johnson: 7 IPs, 2 ERs
~ Billy Denet: 1-for-3, 2B
~ Roy Larson: 1-for-2, 2B, 2 BBs

**Note: I was the PA for this game. While doing the PA, I did score the game and make notes, then conducted four interviews afterward. Also, I shot some game photos, but could not get great shots from inside a press box behind two nets and a backstop. I did, however, also take postgame photos of two of the game’s best players (Savage's Travis Pugliese and Zach Harazin). The photos featured in this article are - from top to bottom - Savage's Travis Pugliese, Eagan's Billy Denet after sliding by Savage second baseman Evan Walker for a double, Pugliese getting Eagan's Ryan Sward to fly out to left, Savage's Zach Harazin.


Braaty Sr said...

Way to go Savage Outlaws good luck at State

Braaty Sr said...

It's nice having someone following the Cannon Valley Baseball League for those of us that can't make it to every game. TY