Race in Berkshire League baseball just got tighter. Gilbert 10, Lewis Mills 4. Story by John Torsiello
You could forgive Robert Weiss’s mind for being elsewhere during classes Monday at Winsted’s Gilbert School.
His thoughts were drifting to the Walker Field diamond, where that afternoon he would take the ball from head coach Patrick Cooke and try to keep the Yellowjackets in Berkshire League title contention in a big contest with another contender, Lewis Mills.
Weiss, a senior right-hander, must have been thinking positive thoughts because he was on his game against the Spartans, pitching a complete game and leading his club to a key, 10-4, win that indeed kept Gilbert’s pennant hopes alive.
The win lifted the ‘Jackets to 9-4 overall, 8-4, in the league, while Mills fell to 10-4 overall and 10-3 in the BL. Both are trailing twice-beaten Northwestern and retain chances to catch the Highlander by season’s end.
“Robert was jazzed up all day,” said Cooke. “He wanted the ball and he pitches well in big games.”
Said Weiss, who allowed just four hits and struck out eight, “I pitched well but it wasn’t my best game.”
Nonetheless, he upped his personal record to 5-0 (with one no-decision).
“I enjoy the pressure of a big game. I tried mixing it up on them because they are a good fastball hitting team. When we got the seven runs, it relaxed me.”
Weiss only had one troubling inning, that coming in the top of the fourth inning when the visitors put all their runs on the board, three coming off the bat of Kyle Eisenmann, who hit a shot that sailed high over the centerfield fence and made the score 7-4 in favor of the home team.
Gilbert took advantage of some very sloppy play all around by the Spartans in the bottom of the previous inning to score seven times, mixing in four errors, a wild pitch and one big hit by Nick Cripe that plated two runners.
Gilbert added a single tally in the bottom of the fifth when Devon Molway led off with a walk, stole second and then took third when Mills’ catcher Kevin Sullivan’s throw bounced into centerfield. Molway scored on a wild pitch.
The Yellowjackets pinned on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it 9-4.
Ted Smith led off the inning by getting plunked by Mills reliever Joe Bruzas, and then scored on a booming double to left center field by Gilbert catcher and potential Major League Baseball June draftee Justin Morhardt. Weiss tallied the final run for his team when he reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Morhardt, and scored on a single by Alex Moreira.
Weiss settled down after Mills’ four-run fourth inning uprising, facing only two batters over the minimum during the last three frames. He was aided by some spectacular fielding.
Brady Hecht was erased on a beautiful relay from Gilbert left fielder Mike Huber to shortstop Nat Marshall to third baseman Jon Marshall that nipped the Mills runner trying to take third on a single by Sam Brooke in the fifth.
Then Marshall made a Major League caliber play at third when he dove to his right to snag a ground ball and threw the Mills runner out at first from his knees.
“Jon Marshall was absolutely great today,” said Cooke. “He was hurt last year and he has helped us a lot coming back this season. I liked the way we played all around today, hustling to break up plays and playing great defense. That relay play was textbook.”
Mills head coach Vic Rinaldi said this was one to throw away for his club.
“We made a ton of errors, walked people and had wild pitches and you can’t win games by doing what we did today. My first pitcher (Zave Milborn) had issues with the mound but you can’t make excuses. We’ll just go back to practice tomorrow and try to work things out. We have to play Northwestern and have a chance to catch them. But we have to play better than we did today.”
Gilbert has a tough stretch of games coming up, playing Shepaug Wednesday, Wamogo Thursday and traveling to Cooperstown, N.Y. to play Wamogo in those two team’s annual trek to the Mecca of baseball over the weekend. The Yellowjackets also have Norwich Tech in a non-league game and Housatonic within the next week.
They also have a big date coming up with Northwestern at Walker Field May 19. Bobby Weiss did all he could Monday to make sure that meeting with the Highlanders will mean something for his team.