With a loaded large-school roster, Lancaster High School baseball coach Mark Dalfonso has some difficult decisions when filling out his line-up card.
Vinny Stutz is making one decision nice and easy for his coach: the junior simply needs to be on the field every day. That was evident more than ever on Wednesday afternoon.
Stutz continued his stellar season as he led the Legends at the plate and on the mound to a 4-3 come-from-behind win over Williamsville North in ECIC I action at Lancaster.
“Vinny’s gotta be in the lineup,” Dalfonso said. “I was just talking to (assistant) coach (Derek Jozwiak), Vinny’s gotta be in the lineup every day. He’s hitting about .600 but I haven’t had him in every day because everyone else is hitting too. But he’s got to be in every day.”
Stutz raised his average to .579 with a 3-for-3 day at the plate that included the go-ahead RBI single in the decisive fifth inning that saw the Legends score four times to seize control of the game.
He also picked up the win on the mound, throwing six innings and allowing three runs – one earned – and striking out six.
“I’m just doing everything I can to prove myself and try to get in the lineup every day,” said Stutz, who is also listed on the roster as a first baseman and third baseman. “Whatever I need to do to help the team win …”
The Legends improved to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the ECIC I with the victory. But even though Lancaster won 15-2 at North on April 21, the Spartans came into Wednesday’s game ready for an upset bid.
Lancaster trailed 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth – but that’s when things changed. Alec Tamburri led off with a walk and went to second on a groundout. He came into score on a hit by Ryan Mansell – after some risky coaching by Dalfonso at third.
“I think I shocked my runner when I sent him home because he was a dead duck if they make a good throw,” Dalfonso said. “But the kid bobbled the ball and we were safe. We weren’t scoring runs, so I figured we needed a little bit of a spark.”
Mansell came in to score on a balk that was met with much disapproval by the Williamsville North sideline that included several meetings with umpires on the mound. Max Giordano and Ben Damiani followed by drawing walks. Giordano scored the tying run on a wild pitch that sent Damiani to second and set the stage for Stutz. Lancaster’s No. 6-hole hitter drove a hit to left center that scored Damiani with the go-ahead run.
“I just went up there on a mission,” he said. “I had a man out there and I had to get him in. We realized we had to get things going and we did.”
Some shoddy fielding by the Legends in the top of the second inning “turned what should have been a nine-pitch inning into a 29-pitching inning” and that led to two Williamsville North runs. The Spartans added another in the top of the fifth – but Lancaster was just getting started.
“We did a nice job of bouncing back during the game,” Dalfonso said. “A lot of times you talk about bouncing back after the game: ‘Let’s bounce back and get ’em tomorrow. ‘ Well these kids decided during the game that we needed to start playing better.”
Jacob Calo retired the Spartans in order in the top of the seventh for his first save of the season. For Williamsville North (3-5, 2-5 ECIC), Cam Zurat was 2-for-4 while Griffin Green and Joe Battaglia each had a hit and run scored.
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