When you have been around baseball as long as Bill Buscetto has, you understand the impact an unusual play can have, especially on a team of 14- and 15-year-olds.
“Hustle out, we have to play defense, the game’s not over,” Buscetto barked Saturday in the Potvin Tournament 15-Under championship game after his team was the victim of a scenario rarely seen in baseball; a triple play off a bunt in the fifth inning.
The Connecticut Rebels responded and held on for a 2-1 win over Groton at Dodd Stadium. The two will play for the championship today at 1 p.m., also at Dodd.
The Rebels had just taken a one-run lead in the fifth when Bryan Harper walked, went to second on a single by Chris Turner and scored on a Brandon Gillespie base hit. That’s when Buscetto called for the bunt, which was popped into the glove of Groton pitcher Reynaldo Sierra. Sierra turned and fired to Danny Santos at second for the second out, and he threw to Jordan Hamler for the third. “I have never seen that in my life, never in my life,” Buscetto said with a chuckle. “We were hanging our heads, but I was telling them to stay positive, we’re still in the lead.”
“I thought that was the game-changer right there,” Groton coach Jesse Hahn said.
It didn’t turn out that way thanks to the efforts of Rebels pitcher Pete Aldrich (six strikeouts, one walk). The big right-hander allowed just four hits, only one after he allowed Groton its only run in the third inning. “I was pretty much just throwing the fastball, the off-speed wasn’t working for me,” Aldrich said. “Harper helped me out behind the plate — he called a great game.”
The Rebels had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Aldrich singled and scored on a double by Izzy Davila. Groton tied the game in the third when Shawn Nadeau scored on Aaron Hill’s base hit.
“We both threw our top pitchers (Saturday). It will be an even match (today),” Buscetto said. “They’re a really good team, so it should be fun.”