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Rienzi Rolls 12, Heads to Rgmvm Title Game

With their 12th consecutive victory, Rienzi and Sons advanced to the RGMVM Minor Division Championship and will face off with Cutrone’s Lawmen in a best-of- three series.

The two teams split their two previous meetings during the season.

Cutrone’s advanced as the fourth seed when they eliminated top seed Modica Pitching in their semi final game.

Third-seeded Rienzi also eliminated a higher seed, taking care of more unfinished business when the upended Seaview Printing with a powerful 9-3 victory in the semi final game.

Seaview was the only team that Rienzi did not overcome during the regular season when a rainout prevented them from meeting a second time before the playoffs.

With both teams enjoying first round victories, the stage was set for a rematch on the road to the championship.

In the top of the first, Rienzi scored a run when Sam Navarra crossed the plate. Rienzi scored without a single hit, but had three walks, three strikeouts and left two on, in a shaky first.

As expected, August Larsen got the start for Rienzi. Larsen struggled through the first inning allowing two walks and a three run homer. Aheads -up play by Derek Portalatin ended the inning when he caught a runner straying off second base.

In the top of the second Rienzi went quietly again. fter a leadoff single by Massimo Todaro and a walk by Portalatin, Rienzi had three strikeouts in a row and for the second straight inning left two runners stranded.

After the first, Larsen was quick to settle down and find his groove. He struck out two in the second, and allowed only a single hit over the next 2 1/3 innings. He did not allow another run to score and finished with seven strikeouts.

In the third inning, Rienzi came alive scoring six runs and taking a 7- 3 lead, a lead they would not relinquish in the 9-3 victory. Joe Pizarro started the rally with a leadoff walk. Pizarro reached base safely in each of his three plate appearances in his quest to secure the Rookie of the Year award for Rienzi.

After Pizarro’s walk, Larsen singled and the wheel started turning with walks to Sam Navarra, Nicolas Hutson, singles by Aidan Mooney, and Frank Navarra, followed by another walk to Kevin Klaar and a single by the hot-hitting Todaro.

When the inning was over, Rienzi had scored six runs and regained their confidence knowing that Frank Navarra, the team’s closer, was warming for the last two plus innings. Rienzi added insurance runs in the fifth and the sixth.

In the sixth, Portalatin hit a triple deep to left and came in to score on a steal of home. However,, Rienzi left three runners stranded when Larsen hit a screamer to short that was handled by the shortstop who got the out at first.

In all, Rienzi left 10 on base, indicating that the margin would have been bigger, were it not for another key hit or two.

Frank Navarra handled the last 2 2/3 innings for Rienzi. After allowing a single to the first batter he faced, Navarra struck out six of the next seven batters and did not allow another hit or run to score. He worked effortlessly through the lineup to earn another save and send Rienzi to the championship.

“I knew we had what it takes to get here,” said Coach Mike Columbia. “It took us a while to get rolling but the team is strong on the field and throughout the lineup. I am very proud of what these boys have accomplished.”

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