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Monroe, Nassau avenge losses to Skipjacks
Tribunes top Chesapeake, 7-1, in ’05 district title series rematch

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – There was no title on the line this time, but the Tribunes played like it was a championship game.

Monroe Community College, which lost a three-game district playoff to Chesapeake College last spring, handed the Skipjacks a 7-1 defeat Tuesday at the Cocoa Expo. Bryan Haxton threw a complete-game five-hitter and Harrison Harber went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer to pace the defending Region XII champions.

"They came out with an attitude," Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski said of the Tribunes. "They played very well – they executed in all areas.

"Haxton did a great job. He kept us off balance," added Szymanski. "We had him on the ropes a couple of times, but they made the plays defensively to get out of the jams."

Nassau (N.Y.) Community College avenged a much more recent loss to the Skipjacks by beating Chesapeake, 4-1, in Tuesday’s nightcap.

Chesapeake’s Justin Sousa threw a three-hit shutout against Nassau on Sunday, but it was Nassau’s Ryan Calabrese who threw the pitching gem Tuesday night. Calabrese pitched a five-hitter with one strikeout and three walks as the Skipjacks (11-3) dropped to 4-2 at the Expo.

"Nassau is a quality club," said Szymanski. "Their pitcher did an excellent job and they made all the plays behind him. We’ve got to give them credit."

Monroe (7-5) scored a run in the first inning as Mark Stuckless singled, moved to third on a Rob Meng hit, and scored on a double-play ball off Harber’s bat. Kyle Hall, Tony Fuller, and Adam Curynski all had run-scoring singles in a three-run third off losing pitcher Nick Lemmer as the Tribunes built a 4-0 cushion.

Harber’s two-run, fourth-inning homer – which followed Nelson Santos’ leadoff single – finished off Lemmer, who allowed nine hits and three walks while giving up six earned runs.

Monroe made it 7-0 in the fifth before Chesapeake got on the board in the bottom half of the inning. Brad Brainer, who went 4-for-4, scored the Skipjacks’ run.

Nassau jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Frank Italiano delivered a run-scoring single in the second inning and Nick DiPrimo singled in a run in the third. Mike Testani, who went 2-for-4, made it 4-0 with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth.

Losing pitcher Chris Conner gave up six hits with a walk and a hit batsman while working the first four innings. Justin Felgenhouer blanked Nassau on one hit over the final three frames to keep Chesapeake in the game, but Chesapeake could muster only a sixth-inning run.

Brainer led of the sixth with a walk, took second on a Mike Kelch single, and went to third on a double-play ball. Calabrese then balked home Brainer to get the Skipjacks within 4-1.

While the Skipjacks managed only two runs in Tuesday’s doubleheader, Szymanski wasn’t worried about a hitting attack that started the day averaging more than 11 runs a game.

"I think we’re just in a stage now where we’re hitting the ball right at people," said Szymanski, who also wasn’t concerned about the losses.

"We talked about how the reason why you play baseball every day is things like this (the two losses) happen," said Szymanski. "You’ve got to have a short memory and get right back at it. We play Monroe again Thursday – we’ll get right back at it and we’ll be fine."

Notes: The Skipjacks play Monroe Thursday at 7 p.m. They finish the Expo by playing a Friday doubleheader against Morton (Ill.) College at 1 p.m. and Schenectady (N.Y.) County Community College at 7 p.m. . . .

The Skipjacks used their off day on Wednesday to visit the Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios in Orlando.

"We’re looking forward to it," Szymanski said Wednesday morning as the team prepared to leave. "We played six games in three days and we need a little break – a little R&R. The boys are ready to go."

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