East Prospect draws first blood in Susquehanna title series
EAST PROSPECT — Norbert Rodriquez didn't get a chance to take the mound for a pitching-rich East Prospect team in the Susquehanna League's regular season.
"I played the field, but it had been a while since I pitched," Rodriquez said.
Guess who was on the mound, though, when the league's best-of-5 championship series opened on Tuesday evening?
"Toomey (East Prospect manager Mark Toomey) sent me a text two days ago, and said 'be ready to pitch on Tuesday,'" Rodriquez said after the Pistons topped Conrads, 6-4, in Game 1. "I replied, 'in relief,' and he said 'maybe starting.'"
Rodriquez admitted he was nervous at the outset of the game between teams that had split four regular-season contests.
"At the beginning, the nerves were there because I was trying to get a win for us," he said. "I threw too many balls early on, but by the third inning, I kind of settled down."
The right-hander walked four batters in the first two innings, and one of the runners scored in the top of the second inning to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Rodriquez was charged with just one more run before he exited with two runners on base and two outs in the top of the fifth. The York High graduate made the most of an opportunity that he never could have imagined less than a week ago.
"When I took him out, I told him 'you did exactly what we asked you to do,'" Toomey said. "We hadn't pitched him (Rodriquez) one time, but we had five kids on this team who were Division I college pitchers. Norbert did a great job for us."
Hunter McVey, the winning pitcher in the second and third games of the semifinal series against Hallam, relieved Rodriquez and pitched the last 2 1/3 innings. McVey gave up two runs in the seventh, but East Prospect, which never trailed after taking the lead with three runs in the second, held off the visitors for the victory.
Sean Rigney led the Pistons' attack by smashing two home runs and driving in three runs. Rigney said it was his first two-homer game since his senior year at Manheim Township (2006). The left-handed hitting Rigney ripped a two-run shot over the right-center fence in the second and cracked a solo homer down the right-field line in the sixth.
"The ball was flying a little bit today," he said. "I ended the series against Hallam swinging the bat pretty well, and it carried over to today."
Rigney delivered his blasts while hitting out of the No. 7 hole.
"I'll hit anywhere as long as we (East Prospect) take care of business," he said.
Toomey said that Rigney leads the team in home runs.
"He can really hit them," Rigney said. "Down in Stewartstown, he hit one of the longest balls I've ever seen hit there."
Rigney was the only multiple-hit player for the Pistons in Tuesday's game.
Matt Jordan and Andrew Gideon each had two hits for Conrads, and Jordan drove in two runs.
The second game of the series is set for 5:45 p.m. Thursday on the Conrads diamond in New Bridgeville.
— Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.