DURHAM — The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 105 years. Green Hope, founded 91 years after the Cubs’ last World Series, hasn’t waited nearly that long to win a second-round playoff baseball game, but it probably felt like that to many Falcon fans.
Since the 2003 season, the Falcons have suffered heartbreak and upsets after moving past the first postseason test.
On Tuesday night, however, Green Hope finally got over that hump, blasting Riverside 10-3 to advance to the third round of the state 4-A playoffs for the second time in school history.
“Green Hope does really well in the regular season, but we seem to struggle in the playoffs,” said third baseman Vincent Addona, whose two-run home run in the sixth put the Falcons ahead for good. “It’s really big for our players to get over that hump.”
Green Hope (21-5) hosts Holly Springs (21-5) in the third round on Friday, thanks to an offensive explosion and hitless relief pitching from Luca Scelsi. The Falcons pounded out 12 hits, with shortstop Stephen Pitarra going 4-for-4 with four runs batted in.
Green Hope starter Daniel Weygandt left after two innings and his team trailing 2-0, and doubt crept in the minds of some Falcons players.
“We got down early, and psychologically, we were like, ‘Oh, boy, here we go again, losing in the playoffs,’“ Addona said. “But we rallied together, came together and put up some runs.”
Green Hope took a 3-2 lead in the fourth, with Pitarra getting the big blow, a two-run single that tied the game. After Riverside scored an unearned run in the fifth to make it 3-3, the Falcons blew the game open in the sixth.
Pitarra singled and was sacrificed to second before Addona drove a 2-0 pitch from Blake Morgan deep over the centerfield wall.
“He got me out the first inning with the curveball,” Addona said. “The second inning, I walked on four straight fastballs. I got a 2-0 count, and he threw me a fastball up, and I put a good swing on it, and it carried out.”
Green Hope batted around – Pitarra had two hits and two RBIs in the inning – and scored six runs to take a commanding 9-3 lead.
“We’ve just been flat. We haven’t swung the bats since spring break,” Green Hope coach Michael Miragliuolo said. “It was nice that we came along, and everybody had good at-bats and swung the bats well against a good pitcher. … Just exploded, and that was nice because we’ve had a lot of one-run games this year.”
Miragliuolo also credited Scelsi, who gave up only one run and struck out seven in five innings to get the win.
“In a small park like this against a good-hitting team – the ball was carrying well tonight – he just threw great,” Miragliuolo said.
Miragliuolo said Weygandt would likely start against holly Springs, but he’ll use Scelsi again, too.
“Holly Springs is probably one of the best all-around teams we’ve faced,” Miragliuolo said. “It’ll be a good game.”