Team Papio pulled out all the stops in Game 1 of the Fall World Series, utilizing all aspects of their game for the 5-1 win over Team Swope on Friday in College Park.
A combination of small ball and big hits put Team Papio on the board first, with a four-run fourth inning. A walk and stolen base from Austin Chavis, followed by a single from Tucker Flint put runners on the corners as James Heffley stepped to the plate.
Heffley hadn’t started the game, but after junior catcher Justin Vought was hit in the left wrist by a pitch while at bat in the second inning the freshman got the nod.
In his first plate appearance, he proved he could compete and laid down a squeeze bunt that drove home Chavis and left Flint at second. Then, after Team Swope reliever Ryan Ramsey walked one batter and hit another, freshman Matt Orlando roped a bases-clearing double to the wall in left field for the 4-0 lead.
“I just jumped on the first fastball I got and put a pretty good swing on it,” Orlando said. “We’ve been preparing since last night…we had a game plan. We had a lot of quality at-bats.”
The following inning it was Chris Alleyne who went deep, his long shot carrying over the left field wall to put Team Papio up 5-0 heading into the sixth inning.
“You have to have multiple ways to score,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Ideally, for our offense to run right, you’ve got to lengthen and shorten the field… Heffley comes in, executes a safety and, worse case, you leave that inning you’re up 1-0 and with your pitchers throwing the ball pretty good. But instead, [Orlando] comes up and gets that big hit.”
Freshman starter Sam Bello and redshirt-freshman Sean Burke combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings and seven strikeouts, before junior Sean Fisher entered in the top of the sixth after Burke gave up a run to Team Swope.
Fisher threw three consecutive strikes for the final punch-out of the inning, minimizing the damage and coming back out to secure the Team Papio victory in the seventh.
“Sam Bello got the nod today not because he has the best stuff,” Vaughn said, “though [Bello] is 90-92 [mph] with a breaking ball, but [because] his mentality is through the roof. That guy’s a competitor, he’s a winner.”
The same could be said for the other young pitchers on the mound Friday. Vaughn was happy with what he saw from the freshman pitchers; though they lack consistency, there’s big potential amongst the new faces in Maryland’s pitching staff. And, amongst the returning arms, some have newfound strength on the mound.
“Fisher does what Fisher does,” Vaughn said. “[He] had a tremendous summer up in the Cape…. [and] he’s been flat-dominant since he’s been back.”
Across the diamond, Team Swope’s battery of Nicholas Dean, Ramsey and David Falco threw four scoreless innings and four strikeouts, including two three-up, three-down innings from Dean.
“That’s prime-time, Friday night, legit stuff,” Vaughn said of Dean’s pitching arsenal.
“I saw a lot of focus,” Dean said of his fellow pitchers. “Guys need to be more confident working through the zone…just go right at hitters.”
Game 2 of the Fall World Series is set for 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.