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ARDSLEY, N.Y. — Sometimes in baseball, the biggest innings start with small ball.
Pelham sure proved that on Saturday. The Pelicans rallied for five runs in the third inning of their 6-5 win over Ardsley, jump-started by gorgeous back-to-back bunt singles by Spike Manning and David Wright.
“They do that on their own,” Pelham coach Brian Leighton said. “If Spike gets anything down the vicinity of the third baseline, with his speed, it’s an automatic base hit for him. And David’s was a perfectly placed bunt.”
The victory gave Pelham () the Ardsley tournament title after knocking off Hastings in Friday’s opening round. Ardsley defeated Nanuet.
It was also the seventh win in eight games for Pelham (11-4), which trailed by two runs early and closed it out with Ardsley stranding the bases loaded.
“What’s happened is our hitting has gotten us ahead and our pitching has had to hold the lead,” Leighton said. “But today we were able to fight back. I was really proud of the way they played from behind. This is a huge win for us.”
Manning and Wright have been in the middle of most rallies of late, few that have started as inconspicuously as Saturday. Manning, a junior shortstop, led off the third and squared to bunt late, dropping down a slow roller up the third baseline.
Wright, a sophomore third baseman, followed with an almost identical bunt that Ardsley couldn’t even make a play on.
“I thought we needed a pick-me-up for the team; to spark something,” said Manning, who was selected this week as one of MSG Varsity’s All-Underrated team members. “I had no clue (Wright) was going to, too.”
Manning later scored on a single by Ben Schwartz, and Wright tied the game at 3-3, scoring on a double by Dylan Tuttle.
Joe Bitetto gave Pelham the lead later in the inning, crushing a two-run double to center and later scoring on Anthony Senerchia’s RBI single. All runs came before Ardsley got an out in the third.
“That’s the game of baseball,” Manning said of the bunt hits starting the rally. “Even something small like that can decide a game.”
Ardsley got two runs back in the fourth inning. Gabe Kardish brought in a run on an RBI grounder to second, which Adam Deangelo later followed with a two-out RBI single.
The Panthers threatened in the final three innings but Pelham escaped each time. Ardsley had the leadoff man on in the fifth but stranded him at third before leaving two men on in the sixth.
In the seventh, Pelham brought in ace Gjon Ljucovic to close out. Ardsley again got the leadoff man on and had the bases loaded with two outs. But Ljucovic ended it with his third strikeout of the inning.
“We know this is a good team that we played,” Manning said. “Being able to gut this one out really means something.”
Manning, Schwartz, Bitetto and Senerchia each had two hits for Pelham, and Bitetto scored twice. Mike Murray picked up the win with three scoreless innings of relief and three strikeouts.
Alec Eisenberg had three hits and a walk for Ardsley.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org