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Coming through in the clutch

Monday was supposed to be South Colonie's day off from the Babe Ruth World Series, but last weekend's rain forced the eastern New York champions to play an early morning game against Portland, Maine.

The early wake-up call didn't bother South Colonie, though. The Cook Park crew used timely hitting and smart baserunning to defeat Portland 5-2 and raise its pool play record to 2-1 heading into Tuesday night's game against Kelso, Wash., at Clifton Common.

Is there a better reason to get up at 7 in the morning than the World Series? said South Colonie manager Jeal Sutherland. "Christmas doesn't even compare to this."

Ron Notar put South Colonie on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning. He led off with a double, advanced to third on pitcher Derek Zielinzki's groundout and scored on a squeeze bunt by Paul Nylin.

The score remained 1-0 until the top of the fifth inning. South Colonie loaded the bases on an error, a hit batter and a bunt single by Steve Crouse. Matt Vetrone singled to drive in Liam Keegan and Eric Birdsall, and Andy Carucci bunted in Crouse to make the score 4-0.

"At that point, we knew that (Portland) pitcher was in a world of trouble," said Sutherland. "The clutch hits that we didn't have against Jefferson Parish (in a 4-3 loss last Friday) we got today."

Portland got to Zielinski " who pitched four no-hit innings " for a run in the bottom of the fifth, but South Colonie responded in the top of the sixth. Nylin led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on groundouts by Keegan and Matt Weinman. Pinch hitter Dan Madelone then singled into right field to drive Nylin in for a 5-1 South Colonie lead.

Portland rallied for another run in the bottom of the sixth inning off Zielinski, but Chris Smith " the Game 1 starter " got the final out of the sixth, and Keegan pitched a perfect seventh inning to slam the door.

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