Baseball: Leyden stays home, knocks off Maine East

Different venue, great result.

Leyden thought they'd be playing a road contest Tuesday at Maine East, but due to weather-related field conditions in Park Ridge, the game was switched at the last minute to the Eagles diamond on its west campus in Northlake.

And despite still being the visiting team on the scoreboard, Leyden took advantage.

The Eagles plated 7 runs in the first 2 innings en route to an 11-6 nonconference win over the Blue Demons.

Leyden senior center fielder Andrew Mann said the team didn't find out the site had been switched until about 9:30 Tuesday morning.

"I was ready to play away," said Mann, "but it's more fun playing at home. Got the home-field advantage."

"I know the field, so it was easier for me on the mound," said Eagles pitcher Nick Matozzi, who threw a scoreless sixth inning to help hold off a Blue Demons charge.

"This was a good win," added Matozzi. "We got off to a great start, fell off a little bit in the middle innings, but we got back to it."

First baseman Noah Schmitt led Leyden's attack with 3 hits and 4 RBI, while Adolfo Lopez had 3 hits for Maine East.

"I was happy with the way we swung the bats," said Blue Demons coach Ron Clark, "but we're sloppy defensively right now."

"We talked (after the game) about some things we've got to clean up, like situational baseball. We're a lot better than we showed today, I really believe that, but that's the way it goes sometimes."

Leyden plated 3 runs in the first inning, highlighted by a 2-run single from Schmitt.

The Eagles scored 4 more times in the second, with Schmitt getting another 2-run knock.

Maine East fought back with 3 runs in the fourth, with third baseman Andrew Iso hitting a triple that drove in 2.

Meanwhile, relief pitcher Vasili Memmos was excelling on the mound for the Blue Demons. He took over to start the third and pitched 4 strong innings to keep Leyden at bay, giving Maine East a chance to rally.

"He did a really nice job and kept us in the game," said Clark of Memmos. "This was only our second game of the year and we're giving guys work to see what they can do."

"Vasili responded, and we know we can trust him and give him the ball again. That's good to know,"

Leyden kept the pressure on, and Mann helped break the game open in the top of the fifth.

The senior stroked one to the wall in right center field, and used his superior speed to race around the bases for an inside-the-park home run that scored two.

"He (the Maine East pitcher) left one hanging," said Mann, "and I just cranked it to the fence."

Third baseman James Traficanti had 2 hits and 2 runs batted in for Leyden, while Iso had 3 RBI for Maine East.

The Blue Demons mounted a seventh inning rally by loading the bases with nobody out, but Eagles pitcher Damien Gutierrez got out of the jam to secure the victory.

Leyden starter Jacob Sarnecke earned the win, hurling 5 strong innings.

"Jake is an all-conference pitcher," said Eagles coach Rory O'Connor. "He's super confident, has great control of three pitches, and he doesn't mess around. He likes to attack the zone and make short work of the opposition."

"I have to give a lot of credit to our grounds crew today," added O'Connor, "for getting the field ready to play, to our players for being prepared, and to our seniors for getting us off to a great start."

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