PLATTSBURGH, NY  –  The Plattsburgh Thunderbirds have continued their early season success, taking three of four games versus the Japan Islanders. Runs came in troves, as the pitching on both sides had a hard time containing the opposition’s offense.

Game one was an extra innings affair that ended in a 10-7 Islanders victory, the Islanders first win of the season. Starter Kyung Min Han, went 8.0 innings for the Islanders, allowing them to save pitchers as they headed into extra innings. In those eight innings, Han allowed six hits, four runs, two walks, and struck out three batters. Kazunori Takebayashi entered for Han and gave the Islanders a clean inning, only allowing two hits and striking out two batters. Hirota Yasuda entered after Takebayashi, giving up one run, but did not let the game get away from him.

Takuto Hasegawa was the Islander’s top hitter in the game, going 4-6 with a double. He also knocked in three RBIs.

The Thunderbirds had pretty solid pitching throughout the game, but they were not able to keep the Islanders offense from staying on top. David Ortiz started the game for the Thunderbirds, allowing three runs in three innings. Frank Giuliano had a great outing, following up Ortiz with 4.0 solid innings, giving up two hits, walking one batter, and only allowing one run. He also struck out three batters.

Emmanuel Brantley had a clean two inning outing, striking out three batters. But the final pitcher for Plattsburgh, Rancys Nunez, put the nail in the coffin allowing four runs in his two innings of work. 

The most notable hitter on Plattsburgh was player of the week, Jamiel Orozco. Orozco went 4-5 with two runs scored, one RBI and a stolen base. 

Game two had a much different outcome. Although Plattsburgh pitching still had trouble keeping Japan from scoring, the Plattsburgh offense exploded for 23 runs, beating out the Islanders who had 11. 

Starter for Japan, Ken Watanabe, could not find the strike zone at all, walking 12 batters, and eight straight to start the game. He also allowed three hits and thirteen runs in only 1.1 innings pitched. Things started to balance out after Kenta Tanaka entered the game for the Islanders, going 2.2 innings and only allowing one run, but that was quickly thrown away after Oto Amagai allowed seven runs in 1.1 innings. Kazunori Takebayashi ended the game only allowing one run.

Katsuya Arai was the Islanders top offensive producer in this game. Arai went 3-4 with one run scored, two stolen bases and five RBIs. But, it was not enough to keep his team in the game.

Thunderbirds starter Hennry Civil did not have success either, allowing eight runs in 4.0 innings pitched. Civil walked eight batters and gave up four hits, while also striking out six batters. The Plattsburgh bullpen of Brandon Madero and Nick DiBenedeto was much more efficient than their starter, only allowing three combined runs in 3.0 innings. 

Brandon Russo was one of the main sources of offense, going 3-4, with three runs scored, three RBIs and four stolen bases. Aside from pitching a scoreless inning in relief, DiBenedeto also went 2-4 with four runs scored, four RBIs and two stolen bases in the win.

Game three featured yet another rough start for Islanders pitchers. Shinya Yamauchi started the game and went 4.2 innings, allowing 13 runs, and walking four batters. The three pitchers that came out of the bullpen, Kenta Tanaka, Ken Watanabe and Hirota Yasuda, allowed five runs in their 3.2 innings of work, but only one was earned. 

Daiki Hirabayashi gave the Japan offense its spark, going 2-5 with three runs scored, a double and three RBIs. Takuto Hasegawa also went 2-5 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs.

Three pitchers for the Thunderbirds combined to allow 15 total runs. David Ortiz started and gave up the most runs, six, while Andrew Bielicky and Emmanuel Brantley each gave up four each. 

For the offense, AJ Pollack, Brandon Russo and Marcos Estevez all had three RBIs. Pollack went 1-2 in the game with three walks, three runs scored and five stolen bases. Estevez went 3-5 with three runs scored, a triple, a home run and two stolen bases in the Thunderbirds 18-15 win. 

The fourth and final game of the series was a shortened seven inning game, due to the Empire Baseball League’s run rule. The Thunderbirds were up by eight or more runs by the end of the top of the seventh inning, so the game concluded in a 14-6 Plattsburgh victory, securing them the series. 

Japan’s starter Rui Akagawa allowed all but one run in his 4.0 innings of work, and Oto Amagai followed up only allowing one run in his 2.0 innings of work. Akagawa allowed five hits and 14 walks on top of the 13 runs allowed.

Katsuya Arai was the Islanders offensive player in the game, going 2-4 with two runs scored, a double and two RBIs. The rest of the lineup for Japan was held in check allowing foe the first easy victory of the series for the Thunderbirds.

Nick DeBenedeto had a shaky start, allowing five runs in his four innings of work, but three Plattsburgh pitchers were able to come in and throw three clean innings en route to the win. 

Next, the Thunderbirds are set to face the Tupper Lake River Pigs, at Municipal Park for the first clash between the top two teams in the EBL. The first game is set for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday. The Islanders will play their first home games of the season at Lyon Mountain in a four game set versus the Saranac Lake Surge. The first game is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Article by Ben Diamond