BY GENE NARDI
On Wednesday, March 15, the No. 5-ranked Wellington High School varsity baseball team hosted top-ranked William T. Dwyer High School in a showdown between two of the county’s best.
The Wolverines rallied in the fifth inning to defeat the Panthers 4-3.
Alec Mendez was the workhorse at the plate for the Wolverines, with three hits and two RBIs to help lift his team over the Panthers, who took an early 3-0 lead. Dwyer entered the game 9-1 and at the No. 2 state rank in Class 7A, while Wellington improved to 7-2 on the season.
The first inning ended scoreless, but Dwyer opened it up in the top of the second inning, plating two runs to go up 2-0. Sean Malezke had a RBI double that drew first blood for the Panthers. Dwyer quickly landed another run to take the 2-0 lead. Wellington shortstop Christian Vazquez came up with a solid double play to shut down the Dwyer attack.
Dwyer would continue its march, though, adding another run in the top of the third inning to put the Wolverines in a deeper hole.
In the bottom of the third inning, Mendez got his first single to breathe life into the Wolverine squad. He struck a line drive through center field to safely reach first base. Danny Hernandez connected with the ball next to put runners on first and second. Their efforts fell short by the end of the third inning, and Wellington continued to trail 3-0.
In the fourth inning, Vazquez made it to the plate as the result of a Dwyer error to close the margin for Wellington to 3-1. Mendez then hit an RBI single for the Wolverines to cut the Panther lead by one, trailing only 3-2. Hernandez launched a deep center field ball that hit the turf, sending in Mendez. It would appear to be the tying run, but Mendez lost his grip on the clay and fell short of the plate, only to get tagged out.
It was the fifth inning that broke the game open for Wellington. Dylon Tosto had a one-run RBI on a sacrifice bunt that tied the game at 3-3 for the Wolverines. Mendez grabbed another base hit to send in the go-ahead run that would eventually seal the win for Wellington.
Ethan Kramer entered the game in the fifth inning on the mound for the Wolverines to help the defense squash any late comeback from the Panthers. Wellington’s defense was flawless in the final inning to give the Wolverines the 4-3 victory.
ABOVE: Wellington first baseman Kyle Black looks at the ball to make the play at first base.