From now on, Hillsborough’s Patrick Dudley will be known as, "The Stopper.”
Julio Lara/Daily Journal Staff
With his team against the ropes in Monday’s District 52 10/11 Baseball All-Stars Tournament consolation final, Dudley smoothly walked over from his starting second base position and took the ball from his coach.
The situation: Bases loaded for Menlo-Atherton, one run in and only one out.
The mission: Throw strikes.
"He’s got a lot of big game experience,” said Hillsborough coach Matt Damelio of Dudley. "Dudley throws strikes [and] he’s a total gamer.”
It took No. 7 five pitches to shut down the Menlo-Atherton rally and that was the spark Hillsborough needed to cruise toward a 13-3, four-inning mercy rule win.
The victory sets up a 10/11 final between Hillsborough and Belmont-Redwood Shores Tuesday at Red Morton Park in Redwood City.
However, It wasn’t all Dudley’s doing on Tuesday. While his effort on the mound rightfully earned him a Gatorade shower after the game, Hillsborough showed a lot of patience and discipline at the plate. They only had nine hits but took advantage of key M-A miscues to distance themselves.
In the first, Hillsborough sent 10 hitters to the dish and pushed across five runs to turn that first inning deficit into a three-run lead. Dudley started the rally with a single and Jack Damelio followed with a knock of his own. It was then that M-A started handing runs to Hillsborough. Damelio scored on an error at short and after a walk loaded the bases, Tucker Tollmann’s grounder to second was thrown low to the plate and mishandled. M-A made that same mistake during Daniel Lawrence’s at-bat to make it 4-2. Chase McCleary picked up an RBI with a single to left to put at score at 5-2.
"Our order is deep 1 through 12,” Matt Damelio said. "We don’t have a weak hitter on our team. We knew if we could keep the score close, we had a chance to score a lot of runs.”
Dudley was the one responsible to shutting down Menlo-Atherton and he did it in an extremely frugal way. No. 7 only threw 42 more pitches to complete his outing.
In the second, after his team spotted him five runs, Dudley shut down M-A 1-2-3, using only nine pitches to do so.
Menlo-Atherton made some noise in the third on back to back hits to start the frame. Reece Lindquist picked up a big double and Nick Tripaldi scooped up the RBI on a fielder’s choice.
But by that time, Hillsborough was up 12-2.
The eventual winners scored seven runs in the second inning on only four hits. M-A pitchers walked four in the frame and Hillsborough made them pay the ultimate prize for three of those four gifts.
"We were looking not to help them out,” Matt Damelio said of his team’s approach at the plate. "We’ve seen faster pitchers, so the key there was to keep your weight back.”
Jake Goligoski stroked a key single in the frame and so did Blake Todzo. In fact, Todzo’s knock was the first of three straight in the inning — with Dudley and Damelio hitting the other two.
When the dust settled in the second, Hillsborough was up 10 runs and looked hungry for more. But they wouldn’t get the game-ending runs until the fourth.
An error on a Dudley smash to third set things up for Hillsborough. Damelio brought Dudley two bases closer to the win with a long double to centerfield and Aaron Murphy put a stamp on the afternoon with a line drive that crashed against the chain-link fence in left field, scoring Dudley easily.
"I threw a lot of strikes,” Dudley said of his outing. "And I had the offense back me up.”