2017-04-27 / Around Town

GAME OF THE WEEK

Jorge Fans 13 to Lead Islanders' Victory
By James Merolla

Right fielder Owen Sullivan charges a fly ball in the fifth inning. The junior made the catch and added a single in the Islanders’ two-run fourth inning. Right fielder Owen Sullivan charges a fly ball in the fifth inning. The junior made the catch and added a single in the Islanders’ two-run fourth inning. Behind the stellar pitching of A.J. Jorge and the clutch defense of shortstop Payton Lee, the Middletown Islanders defeated the Pilgrim Patriots 3-1 for their third straight Div. I win on Monday, April 24 at chilly Gaudet Field.

Jorge struck out 13 and brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning for the second straight start. In his previous start six days before, he pitched eight shutout innings, allowing only one single in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Portsmouth.

He received slightly better support against Pilgrim. The Islanders staked him to 3-0 lead, which was more than enough.

After striking out the first five batters he faced, Jorge got things going offensively in the bottom of the second with a bouncing grounder that skipped past the glove of the first baseman for an error. Owen Sullivan then walked, and after Pilgrims starter Zach D’Andrea uncorked a wild pitch, sending Jorge to third, catcher Kyle Denis fired the ball into left field to allow Jorge to score the game’s first run without the benefit of a hit.

Middletown senior A.J. Jorge delivers a pitch against Pilgrim. Jorge went the distance, allowing only two infield hits, and not until the seventh inning, while striking out 13. Middletown senior A.J. Jorge delivers a pitch against Pilgrim. Jorge went the distance, allowing only two infield hits, and not until the seventh inning, while striking out 13. Jorge shut down the Patriots in the third and fourth innings, notching three more strikeouts. D’Andrea breezed through the Islanders lineup in the third, but he ran into trouble in the fourth.

Islanders catcher Ethan Mello got it started with a single to center field, the first hit for either team. Collin Bruneau followed with an infield hit between short and third, but when Jorge attempted to sacrifice the two runners into scoring position, Mello was thrown out at third base.

Middletown’s first baseman, Preston Walker (9), stretches to take the throw from shortstop, Payton Lee (not pictured). The Pilgrim runner, Michael Hampton was out on the close play. Middletown’s first baseman, Preston Walker (9), stretches to take the throw from shortstop, Payton Lee (not pictured). The Pilgrim runner, Michael Hampton was out on the close play. Sullivan beat out an infield hit to short, loading the bases. Grady Richard then ripped a liner to left for a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Preston Walker lived up to his last name, working a bases-loaded free pass for Middletown’s third run.

That was all Jorge would need as he notched his 10th and 11th strikeouts in the bottom of the sixth, preserving his no-hitter. But the seventh brought some drama when Jorge walked Alec Blomingburgh and pinch hitter Robert Hazlewood to begin the inning, his fourth and fifth walks of the game.

Jacob Resendes then broke up Jorge’s no-no with an infield hit to shortstop that Lee managed to keep in the infield. It saved a run, but it loaded the bases. Cameron Olson then lined another bullet between short and third, forcing Lee to make another flat-out dive, this time to his right, to keep the ball in front of him. One run scored, but Lee’s heroics saved another run.

Pilgrim center fielder Evan O’Connor dives for a sinking line drive off the bat of the Islanders’ Ethan Mello. O’Connor couldn’t hold on and the senior catcher’s leadoff single started Middletown’s fourth inning, two-run rally. Photos by Meri Kellerwww.merikeller.smugmug.com Pilgrim center fielder Evan O’Connor dives for a sinking line drive off the bat of the Islanders’ Ethan Mello. O’Connor couldn’t hold on and the senior catcher’s leadoff single started Middletown’s fourth inning, two-run rally. Photos by Meri Kellerwww.merikeller.smugmug.com Middletown coach Chuck Paiva called time and went to the mound to calm down his ace. “In the seventh, he lost his feel. He started to rush his pitches,” he said. “He was going too quickly and I needed to slow him down to get his rhythm again. I went out there and A.J. said to me, ‘Coach, I can’t throw a strike.’ But he slowed down and refocused and got his confidence back.”

With the bases still juiced and no outs, Jorge struck out the next batter, got another to fly out and fanned his 13th batter with a rainbow curve to end the game. He needed 32 pitches in the final frame to get the win, just five shy of reaching the high school limit of 110 pitches per game.

With its third straight win, Middletown evened its record at 3-3 in Division I. Pilgrim’s loss dropped its D-I record to 3-3.

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