When Chaney Enterprises Manager Ed Glaeser gives the ball to Nick Vitielliss, he knows they have a good shot at winning. When Chaney gives Vitielliss six runs, a win is practically a sure thing.
Vitielliss pitched his second straight complete game and didn't allow an earned run as Chaney beat Greenbelt, 6-2, in a must-win American Legion game Tuesday night at Prince George's Community College. The victory pulled the Charles County team even with Greenbelt in the win column in the Frank Riley League, but Chaney (16-7) is still three back in the loss column with five games to play -- making first place difficult, but not impossible, to attain.
Vitielliss always seems to get better as the game goes on, and he has no problem admitting that. In a game earlier this season, he was clocked at 85 mph in the first inning and 91 mph in the fourth.
"I wish I could just start doing that stuff in the first inning," said Vitielliss, who scattered five hits. "This was a game we knew we had to win, and we were really geared up."
If Greenbelt (16-4) wins four of its final eight games, it will clinch first place and a berth in the state tournament. (Greenbelt has eight games left to play because of rainouts earlier in the season, including one against Chaney.)
While the players look to first place, Glaeser is taking a somewhat more conservative approach. He just wants to make sure Chaney holds onto second, earning a postseason berth in the second-place tournament.
"It's important for us just to hold onto second place," Glaeser said. "We've dug ourselves a tremendous hole, and there really aren't enough games left to dig out."
Chaney got behind quickly in the first inning after Greenbelt starter Matt Capece singled to right and advanced to third on an errant pick-off throw by Vitielliss. He scored on a sacrifice fly to left off the bat of Andy Bradley.
But Chaney battled back to take the lead in the top of the second, scoring the way they've scored all season -- by manufacturing runs.
John Kehres reached on an error and Tim Ritter walked to start the inning, and they advanced on a Kyle Gallo sacrifice bunt. Then Nick Rose came to the plate and lined a ball off the pitcher's ankle. He was thrown out by the third baseman, but Kehres scored. Tim Ritter scored on an error by the Greenbelt third baseman.
The score was 2-1 until the fifth, when Kenny Myers hit his 13th homer of the season, a soaring drive into the pine trees behind the right-field fence, putting Chaney up by three. That was more than enough for Vitielliss. At one point between the third and sixth innings, he struck out six of 10 batters. Two other outs during that span came on weak grounders.
Kehres and Finamore drove in a run apiece to round out the scoring for Chaney.
"When we give Nick that many runs, we know we're in good shape," Glaeser said. "We play small ball, and Kenny and Nick play the big ball. That's how we win."
Chaney (16-7) 020 021 1 -- 6 6 2
Greenbelt (16-4) 100 000 1 -- 2 5 3
Vitielliss and Balenger; Capece, Rosen (7) and Medina. HR -- Myers, C (5th, one on).
CAPTION: Kenny Myers, No. 36, receives high-fives from teammates after belting a two-run homer to give Chaney a 4-1 lead.
CAPTION: Nick Vitielliss, above, surrendered only two unearned runs while pitching a complete game. John Kehres, right, reaches first base when an errant throw pulls Greenbelt's Andrew Rosen off the bag.