The Bulldogs watching during the home opening game//Claudette Alcobar

The Bulldogs watching during the home opening game//Claudette Alcobar

By Anthony Khelil, Staff Writer

It was a beautiful day for baseball, as our Bergen Bulldogs opened up their season at home, against Bronx Community College. The crowd rose for the National Anthem before pitcher Brayan Rodriguez threw his first pitch for our Bulldogs on a cool afternoon, which featured some clouds and wind.

Brayan Rodriguez or “B-Rod,” which his teammates enthusiastically call him, fired in a strike to begin the game. Rodriguez struck out the first batter he faced. However, he had a rocky inning in the top of the first, as Bergen went into the bottom of the first down 3-0. B-Rod was able to accomplish a rare feat, as he struck out four batters in the first inning, as a result of a dropped third strike in which a Bronx batter was able to reach first safely.

Outfielder James Fitzgerald led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, which was followed by a double from infielder Lewis Beato. Shortstop Junior Nasi was able to drive in Fitzgerald from third with a sacrifice fly, as Bergen was able to get on the board, down 3-1 headed into the top of the second.

After a rough first inning, Rodriguez was able to make quick work of Bronx Community College recording another strikeout in the process, he had five strikeouts through two innings. In the bottom of the second inning, the Bulldogs were able to load the bases, when James Fitzgerald came through with a bases clearing double. Fitzgerald was able to then score on the play on a fielding error, and the Bulldogs lead Bronx Community College 5-3. The Bulldogs were not done, as their big second inning continued. Bergen was able to load the bases again, and Yefrey Ramirez hit a bases clearing single, and our Bulldogs now led Bronx Community College 9-3 at the end of the second.

In the bottom of the third, James Fitzgerald recorded another base hit and now had three hits through three innings. Catcher Jordan Jackson was able to drive in two runs in the third inning and Bergen was now up by eight runs, as they led Bronx 11-3.

Rodriguez continued his dominating performance striking out two more batters to set the Bronx hitters down with ease in the top of the third inning. In the top of the fourth, he added another strikeout to his bunch, recording his eighth in the top of the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Bronx was able to manufacture two runs, as they tried to scratch away at Bergen’s lead.

Rodriguez finished the inning with another strikeout, limiting the damage and holding Bronx to only two runs in the inning. Rodriguez pitched five strong innings, recording nine strikeouts in the process, as he was relieved by Christian Garcia to begin the top of the sixth inning.

“I don’t think it’s really about me,” said James Fitzgerald. “I think the team played very well today. I think that we did what it took to win. I think Bryan Rodriguez came in and got the job done. He pitched very well. We hit the ball hard. If you hit the ball hard, you win. That’s it.”

Garcia pitched three scoreless innings, exiting the game with four strikeouts, as he shut out the Bronx bats. The bottom of the eighth inning began with a bunt single by Junior Nasi, in which he was able to advance to second on a throwing error made by Bronx. At the end of eighth, Bergen led 11-5, as right hander Blake Smith entered the game to try and close it out for the Bulldogs. Smith was able to close out the game, as a Bronx hitter lined out to center field, and Bergen came out Victorious in their 2016 home opener.

“I think we’ve got a great group of guys on this team,” Fitzgerald said after the confidence boosting win. “I think we have the potential to win the whole region this year. Make it down to North Carolina and play in the college world series. So we’ll see what happens.”