By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PULASKI, Va. —
Joe Lovecchio got a rude welcome to Calfee Park by Wilton Martinez.
Martinez clubbed Lovecchio’s second pitch for a two-run home run and Emilio Pagan retired the final seven batters he faced to lead Pulaski to a 7-6 win over Bluefield in front of 616 spectators on Monday night at the only park older than Bowen Field in the Appala-chian League.
Bluefield (12-9) entered the game in first place in the East Division, while Pulaski (13-10) was in fourth place, but just a game behind the Blue Jays.
Both clubs ended the night tied for first place. Danville and Burlington are both within a game of the top spot.
“We fell one run short,” Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said. “We battled back and competed real well and I am happy for that.”
The Blue Jays will take an Appalachian League-mandated day off today, which is fine with Holmberg with a trio of doubleheaders with Burlington on tap for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Bowen Field.
“The schedule says day off, that means day off,” Holmberg said. “We are not going to do anything tomorrow with three doubleheaders coming up.”
Pulaski out-hit the Blue Jays 13-7, led with three hits each from Joseph DeCarlo, Kristian Brito and Gabe Franca. Brito and Martinez each drove in two runs for the Mariners.
Bluefield was paced by Jesus Gonzalez, who broke out of a slump with an RBI double and a single, while Tim Locastro drove in runs with a double and a single. D.J. Jones scored two runs for the Blue Jays.
However, Bluefield four through seventh hitters struggled, going 0 for 14 with eight strikeouts and two walks.
“It has got to be a total contribution, Gonzalez swung the bat good for the first time in a while, I was pleased with that and Locastro got some big hits,” Holmberg said. “What goes around comes around, some nights it might be some player’s night.
“You have got to pitch and you have got to play defense and hope you score just enough runs to win.”
Tazewell native Zak Wasilewski started for the Blue Jays, allowing five hits, two runs, striking out five and walking two in three innings and 57 pitches on the mound.
“The pitch count ate him up a little bit too, he was on a 60-pitch count,” Holmberg said. “You make the play on the pickoff at first on the tag play and you are out of the inning and maybe you get four innings in.
“It wasn’t a bad three innings for him, and every five days is a new experience, but he did a nice job.”
Tyler Smith drew a two-out walk in the first, and dashed toward second a few pitches later, while Wasilewski made the pickoff attempt to first. Matt Dean quickly threw the ball to Dawel Lugo at second, but Smith was called safe.
Martinez drew the walk and DeCarlo and Brito followed with run-scoring singles for the 2-0 lead.
Bluefield cut the margin in half in the third on a walk to Jorge Saez and double by Gonzalez off Pulaski starter Eddie Campbell, a 15th round draft choice in June from Virginia Tech.
That was followed by two more runs to chase Campbell in the fifth when D.J. Jones was plunked with two outs. Jones stole second and scored on an RBI single to left by D.J. Davis. Locastro followed with a double to center to put Bluefield up 3-2.
Pulaski scored two of their own in the fifth when Smith singled, stole second and moved to third when a DeCarlo two-out ground ball wide of third was fielded by Mitch Nay, but the throw was wide of first.
Brito and Zach Shank followed with run-scoring singles to take the lead back at 4-3.
“The first two runs they scored was a tag play at second base that perhaps wasn’t played and they rolled it out and they came up with two runs,” Holmberg said. “The next two runs they scored was a defensive play, a throwing error to first base.”
More misfortune in the sixth when Franca reached on an infield single deep in the hole at short, and Yates followed with a run-scoring double off Tim Mayza, who was making his Bluefield debut in relief of Wasilewski.
“Mayza, I thought he threw well, and Lovecchio gave up the two-run home run, but that is baseball,” Holmberg said.
Lovecchio was brought in with two outs and Yates on second and Martinez clobbered his second pitch over the left field fence.
“There was a ball hit to short rather hard and it ended up getting by him,” Holmberg said. “You have got to knock it down and keep it in the infield so defensively you give the other team five runs, if you make the plays, but that happens at this level.
Bluefield rallied back in the seventh with Gonzalez and Jones reaching on singles, Locastro drove in a run with a single and Jonathan Davis clubbed a two-run double to cut the lead to 7-6.
However, Pagan — who replaced winning pitcher Leoncio Munoz — retired the final seven batters in the game after allowing the double by Davis.
Munoz picked up the win, while Mayza took the loss. Pagan recorded his fourth save of the season.
Bluefield returns to action on Wednesday to complete a suspended game played earlier this season in Burlington, followed by a regularly scheduled game. The Blue Jays will play two the following two nights as well with the Royals.
— Contact Brian Woodson at
At Calfee Park
Bluefield….001 020 300 — 6 7 1
Pulaski……200 023 00x — 7 13 1
Zak Wasilewski, Tim Mayza (4), Joe Lovecchio (6), Brett Barber (8) and Jorge Saez. Eddie Campbell, Leoncio Munoz (5), Emilio Pagan (7) and Toby DeMello. W—Munoz (1-0); L—Mayza (0-1); S—Pagan (4). HR—Martinez (4). Att—616.