They opened the season with two straight losses, and after
Monday’s 3-2 loss to Pascack Valley, the River Dell baseball team had dropped two consecutive games again. In between, the Hawks managed to ring up 11 straight wins. But listening to coach Brendan Flanagan afterward, you'd think they were right back where they started from.
"Today makes Friday sting a little bit more,” said Flanagan, alluding to River Dell's 2-1 loss to Bergenfield that snapped their winning
streak. “That’s two one-run losses in a row, and I’m not crazy about our
approach at the plate. We need to get less defensive at the plate and not just be content to just put the ball in play.”
River Dell was limited to just six singles in a dominant performance to Pascack Valley sophomore Ryan McNaughton, although they left the
tying run stranded on third—and nearly tied it when Tim Barnes’ opposite field fly just sliced foul with River Dell down to their final out.
“We only had four hits Friday and six today, although you’ve
got to give credit to their pitcher—the kid did a great job,” said Flanagan. “He didn’t walk a batter, and not getting any extra base runners really hurt us.”
McNaughton struck out just three, and needed just 81 pitches
to keep his team’s post-season hopes alive.
“I told the kids the county playoffs started today,” said PV coach Will Lynch. “Every game now has to be a playoff game. We haven’t done
anything to be a 8-7 team, but we are. Ryan’s had a few starts, but this was his best outing. We needed a ‘W’ today and he got us one.”
McNaughton, PV’s cleanup hitter with a batting average of over .500, also helped himself with a fifth-inning double to drive home the winning run against Hawks’ starter Ryan Duran, impressive in fanning nine over
six innings, two of which came to end the third inning with the bases loaded.
Duran had two of River Dell’s six hits, and scored their first run in the top of the fourth, which tied the game at 1-1. PV took a 3-1 lead in the bottom on the sixth after two singles and a hit batsman loaded the bases. An infield squib by Ryan Henderson brought home the game-winning run.
After River Dell slugger Brandon Martinez came within a few feet of a two-run homer to right-center in the sixth, River Dell had second and third with one out in the bottom of the seventh—an inning that began with catcher
Alex Derner getting hit by a pitch.
“You could see how it really changed the game when he [McNaughton]
finally hit one of our guys,” said Flanagan.
Derner scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of John Budka before Barnes popped out to short to end the game.
“We didn’t swing the bats well, but you aren’t always going to hit,” said Flanagan. “Our pitching is there. We’ve had a one-game approach all season. We’re not thinking beyond our next game, and that’s what we’ll get back to starting with practice on Tuesday. We’ve got four games before the cut-off date for the county tournament—and it only gets harder from here.”