It seems like yesterday that Joby Lapkowicz was dealing from the mound and at the plate as a member of the Carmichaels High School baseball team.
Lapkowicz, now 29 and a member of the Mikes' coaching staff, showed that he still has it in leading Carmichaels' county league team to a 3-1 victory over Mitch's Bail Bonds on Wednesday in Fayette County Baseball League action at Carmichaels High School.
Lapkowicz out dueled the All Americans' Dom Costellic and knocked in the game-winning run with an RBI single in the fifth inning. Lapkowicz (2-0) allowed one earned run on three hits in seven innings. He had nine strikeouts and walked one.
"I was hitting my spots pretty well with my fastball, and my slider was also working tonight," Lapkowicz said. "Our catcher, Tyler Reyes, did a good job back there framing. We were in sync most of the time.
"I also coach on Dickie's staff for the high school team. Chuck Gasti, who also plays for us, is on staff, too. That keeps me involved in the game and actually helped me to be a better pitcher. I still get pumped up just as much as before."
"It all starts with pitching, and their guy threw a really good game," Carmichaels manager Dickie Krause said. "It was good baseball, and that's what the county league is supposed to be. Good pitching, good defense and both teams played hard.
"Joby worked really hard this spring, threw a lot of bullpen sessions and really got himself in great shape. He is out there and throwing the ball like he threw it when he was 21 years of age. He threw really, really well. In all the years I've been around baseball, Joby is one of the most competitive guys I've been around at any level. He has always been wired that way, and he got the winning hit today."
Costellic, who is a Penn-Trafford graduate that is headed to La Roche University to continue his academic and baseball careers, surrendered two runs on six hits in five innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.
"He (Costellic) was great and pitched really well today," Mitch's manager Ryan Encapera said. "He was right around the zone. It made a huge difference for them to get that run at the end there because you are facing Joby, who is one of the best, especially after they get runs. Joby is a competitor that knows how to win and has done it for a long time."
Lapkowicz didn't run into much trouble, but Derek Gaisbauer proved to be a tough out for the lefty, as the Mitch's first baseman hit a solo home run to right field in the fourth to give the All Americans (8-3) a 1-0 lead. Gaisbauer added a single in the seventh and hit a ball deep to centerfield in the second for a flyout.
"Every ball he (Gaisbauer) hit today was smacked," Encapera said. "We hit a lot of balls hard, even though we only had three hits."
Lapkowicz liked the pitch he threw to Gaisbauer in the fourth, but gave credit to his opponent for a better swing.
"I hit my spot but he just put the bat on the ball, and that's just baseball," Lapkowicz said. "I threw a good pitch and he made a better hit. That's all."
The Copperheads (10-1) only had two hits entering the fifth, but had four in the fifth, including three straight with two outs, to take a 2-1 advantage.
Josh Colletti doubled to left with one out, and after Costellic recorded a strikeout, Brock Bonadio hit the second of two doubles to score Colletti and Lapkowicz's base hit up the middle plated Bonadio.
"He (Costellic) was throwing good and hitting his spots," Lapkowicz said. "He just left one a little bit more down the middle, and I drove it up the middle, not trying to do too much with it with a guy on second. I understood what the score and situation was, and I just went out there and did my job. It is definitely more fun when you win."
"Brock had two huge hits," Krause said. "We didn't cash in the first one off the fence. We needed some veteran guys to step up today, and they did. I am amazed by Colletti. He is such a baseball player. He has also been a nice little pitcher for us."
Lapkowicz moved to second on Joel Spishock's single up the middle, but Costellic got out of the jam when Lapkowicz was retired at third on a fielder's choice.
Carmichaels added an insurance run when Hunter Robinson walked, Luke Robinson reached on an infield single, and after Mitch's Bail Bonds' Adam Jacko, Louden Conte and Gaisbauer turned a 4-6-3 double play, Hunter Robinson scored on a wild pitch for a 3-1 lead.
The Copperheads' lone loss this year was to the All Americans, a 4-2 setback on June 12. The two meet in the regular-season rubber match on July 8 at Veterans Memorial Field in Charleroi.
Carmichaels has won the last three FCBL titles and Mitch's took the crown in 2015.
"We are just doing whatever we can to get the team ready for the playoffs," Encapera said.