“I was just thinking about what I had to do,” he said. “It was a big spot. I was just thinking that I had to keep battling.”
He won the battle.
Ronai took a fastball and sent it over the centerfield fence for a three-run home run as Amity held on and knocked off Shelton staff ace 7-4 at Brinley Field in the Old Tavern Complex Wednesday.
“I told (Ronai), ‘that’s the epitome of mental toughness,’” said Amity coach Sal Coppola. “It really is.”
Although the Spartans came away with the victory, Cowell was still tough. There were a number of major league scouts in attendance according to Shelton coach Scott Gura. Cowell, who tossed a no-hitter to start the season and has 68 strikeouts this season, struck out 10 with two walks and gave up four earned runs. However, his only real mistake was a big one.
“You can’t throw an 0-2 pitch that’s hittable,” Gura said. “A three-run home run on 0-2 is just not acceptable. I think he pitched well, he had a great deal of strikeouts, but (Amity) was better than us today.”
The Gaels drop to 9-4. Still, Shelton can sweep the season series with Sheehan if it tops the Titans next Monday. Meanwhile, the Spartans improve to 10-4 and avoid losing the season-series to Shelton. The Gaels won the first match up 4-1. Ronai said the Spartans didn’t change their gameplan in game two.
“Our approach was just to up there and battle,” Ronai said. “Put the ball in play and make their defense work.”
But Ronai and the Spartans had to wait a while in the fifth. With the score tied at four in the bottom of the fifth, Chris Winkel led off with a single. He stole second and Kyle Mattei walked. With Ronai battling, fouling off 0-2 pitches, Winkel attempted to steal third. Cowell turned and threw him out, but the call was overturned after Coppola protested, the umpires talked it over and ruled it a balk advancing the runners.
“As far as I know about the rule, you can’t throw to an unoccupied base unless you step off the rubber,” Coppola said. “Your foot has to break the rubber and then you can throw to an unoccupied base.”Gura’s interpretation of the balk rule differed from Coppola’s, so the Shelton coach protested the call. The umpires got out a rule book and went over it with Gura, who said the pitcher does not have to break the rubber before throwing. The rest of the game was played under protest and if the call is reversed, the game will resume with the score tied at four in the bottom of the fifth with a runner on first and one out.
“Our protest was that he was out at third base,” Gura said. “It would go back to that situation where it’s tied because we threw the man out at third base.”
The two reached the tie after Amity’s modest 4-2 lead vanished courtesy of a two-run shot from Cowell in the top of the fifth. However, in the bottom half the Spartans would get the two runs back and add a third on Ronai’s big hit.
“All year I’ve been saying, ‘good things are going to happen,’” Ronai said. “I’ve just been waiting for something like that to happen.”