By Josh Belanger
Michael Ludowig and Antonio Menedez (Wake Forest) took little time making their presence known for the Yard Dogs, leading their team to a 1-0 victory over the Sliders in the Northern Virginia Collegiate League season opener last night at Waters Field.
Ludowig sparked the Yard Dogs offense in the first inning with a one-out triple to left field off Sliders starter Adam Fischer (William & Mary) and later came around to score on a base hit from Caden DeCroo (Indiana University of PA). Menendez, who started on the mound for the Yard Dogs, allowed just one hit and one walk over three innings with five strikeouts.
The lone run for the Yard Dogs would hold up as the game deciding run as Menendez, Matt Howat (William & Mary) and Dylan Saale (Longwood) shut out the Sliders over a combined effort. Both Menendez and Howat featured dominating breaking pitches that were commanded for strikes and utilized as put away pitches when needed.
“My go-to pitch was my slider,” Menendez said. “Some of these guys I have never seen before so I had to go to what I do best and my defense did a really good job behind me.”
Howat also held the Sliders to one hit in his outing that lasted 3.1 innings.
“Howat did a really good job with his breaking ball. That is his go-to pitch and he can throw it in any count and throw it for a strike. Same thing with Antonio. When he pitches to contact and lets our defense work he is pretty tough to beat,” said Yard Dogs coach Rusty Smith.
In the top of the seventh, Ludowig made a game-saving catch over his shoulder in deep centerfield to rob Tyler Casagrande (Arizona) of extra bases to lead off the inning. The Sliders would later load the bases after three straight two-out hits but fail to bring home the equalizing run.
Michael Grupe (Virginia Tech) came on in relief for Fischer, who allowed one run in two innings. The Hokies right-hander tossed three scoreless innings, allowing three runners on two walks and a hit. Braden Mack (Cornell) pitched a scoreless sixth for the Sliders.
Ben Williamson (William & Mary) led the way offensively for the Sliders with three of the team’s five hits.
The Yard Dogs (1-0) will be up next against the Chili Dogs (0-1) at Madison High School while the Sliders (0-1) will look to rebound against the Rough Riders (1-0) at Waters Field on Saturday.
In other league action…the Hot Wings (1-0) took down the Gators (0-1), 8-3, behind a pair of home runs and a combined six RBI from Pete Nielsen and Trevon Dabney. Avery Neaves also homered in the win for the Hot Wings. Nic Kent went deep and scored twice for the Gators…Carson Swank went 3-for-4 with three runs and Eric Lingebach drove in three behind five scoreless relief innings from Brendan Albrittain and Ryan Dudak to lead the Rough Riders (1-0) over the Chili Dogs (0-1), 5-2. Michael Morgan hit a two-run home run for the Chili Dogs...The Night Owls (1-0) used a seven-run third inning and a 3-for-3 night from Matt Thomas to beat the Bunt Cakes (0-1), 12-2. Night Owls starter Nick Stewart allowed one hit over 3.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
Photo of Michael Ludowig by Josh Belanger.