* Follow Section 1 baseball on Twitter @MSGVarsityKDJ *
DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. — Coming into Friday’s matchup against Valhalla, Dobbs Ferry junior Mike Mitaro wasn’t sure if he’d play. As more of a part-time player, Mitaro usually doesn't know what each game will hold for him.
It’s safe to say the game-winning RBI in extra innings wouldn’t have been his first guess.
“I wasn’t even sure I was going to play!” Mitaro said with a smile. “(Starting first basemen Thomas Fleming) was out and I wanted to step up for my team. You don’t really think about it in terms of getting the game-winning hit or anything like that when you find out you’re starting, you just want to help the team. Luckily I could.”
Mitaro hit the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 8th inning to give Dobbs Ferry a 9-8 win over Valhalla in one of the most exciting games of the year so far. Dobbs Ferry led 4-2 heading into the top of the seventh, but Valhalla exploded for six runs, putting the Eagles in a big hole heading into the bottom of the inning.
Dobbs Ferry would not give up though and mustered together an exciting four-run rally to tie the game and force extra-innings.
After a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, Mitaro got his chance to play hero, rifling a single to right field to end the game and send the Eagles into celebration.
“Thomas injured his ankle this morning doing warm-up drills and Mikey was a last-second insert,” said Dobbs Ferry coach Matt Arone. “I knew he was going to get that hit because he had seen the pitcher in the last inning. He’s a junior and he loves baseball, so this is great for him. It’s going to be a big confidence booster for him.”
While Mitaro was the hero of the day, the victory truly was a team-win for the Eagles. Starting pitcher Danny Crowe was great on the mound before getting into trouble in the seventh inning striking out seven and giving up just four hits in 6 and 1/3 innings pitched.
Eddie Ritch led off the bottom of seventh inning with a huge double off the fence to start the rally that tied the game. It was a form of redemption for Ritch who came in to relieve Crowe after Crowe got in trouble in the top of the seventh. Ritch gave up four runs, but Coach Arone says that his performance on the day shouldn’t be judged off of his pitching.
“Eddie closes games when we need him to, but he had just pitched yesterday,” Arone said. “I didn’t want to use him but we needed to. He’s a leader and when he had the chance to step up again he did. We needed that hit; if the leadoff guy doesn’t get on we don’t win this game. He didn’t just get on, he set the tone.”
Matt Fata came in to relieve Ritch and did a spectacular job in the seventh and eighth innings. He got out of the seventh inning without surrendering more damage and posted a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth. Leadoff hitter Rocco Cipriano had a nice day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with three singles.
The loss was disappointing for Valhalla, but head coach Josh Wolfson said after the game he was proud of his team’s effort. The Vikings battled back to tie the game in the fourth inning at two and then battled back and took the lead in the seventh.
“We battled, but you play 21 outs,” Wolfson said. “We scored six runs in the seventh and felt pretty comfortable with a four run lead, but it’s not over until that last out. I think it was a little bit of inexperience; we’ve got some younger guys, but we just didn’t make the plays to end it.”
Valhalla’s Joe Lovecchio hit a double to tie the game at four and keep the big seventh inning rally alive and then Ben Scher drove him in to give the Vikings the lead. Al Corradi and Mike Linnane also drove in runs for Valhalla who batted around the order in the inning.
The Vikings have no time to let the loss get to them though, as the play again tomorrow at Croton-Harmon.
“We have 17 games left,” Wolfson said. “Every game is a one game season; this season’s over and it’s on to tomorrow. We play in less than 24 hours, so we’ll have to be ready.”
Follow Jordan Griffith on Twitter @MSGV_JGriffith