Passaic Tech fires up its offense by Greg Tartaglia of The Record
WAYNE – The chants from the Passaic Tech dugout are rhythmic and constant whenever the Bulldogs are up at bat.
Most popular in Wednesday’s upset of Big North Liberty rival Eastside were “hip-hip, Har-ry” and “go, Diego, go.” Harry Vargas and Diego DeLeon each laid down an RBI squeeze bunt to ignite a three-run inning in an 8-0 victory.
Passaic Tech evened its record at 4-4-1 and avenged a 9-5 loss at Eastside on Monday.
“It’s been an up-and-down season,” DeLeon said. “But we’re coming together as one and doing what we have to do to succeed.”
On the field, that includes utilizing the speed at the top of the lineup.
Leadoff hitter Arbert Cipion and Christian Silfa can force defenses to hurry their fielding and throws. Wednesday versus Eastside (6-2), ranked No. 20 in The Record Top 25, that led to each reaching base three times and scoring three runs.
“They’re both extremely fast,” Vargas said. “Silfa, he’s a [winter] track guy.”
Vargas, a senior second baseman, drove in a run for the second straight game and finished with two RBI.
DeLeon batted 3-for-4 with three RBI, giving him four in his past three outings. The senior catcher is one of several Bulldogs who initiate the support from the sideline.
The chanting is bilingual, and a favorite Spanish refrain encourages the batter to, as DeLeon translates it, “hit it to the trees” beyond the center field fence.
Cleanup hitter Isaias Guzman led Passaic Tech in runs scored entering Wednesday, and No. 9 batter Eric Rodriguez was tied with Silfa for the team lead in RBI.
Since April 7, when they notched a 19-3 rout of Wayne Hills – then ranked in the Top 25 – the Bulldogs have averaged 8.3 runs per game. One of the main beneficiaries on the mound has been Tim Peña (3-1), who has won three in a row during the stretch.
The junior right-hander earned the shutout victory over Eastside, carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He worked around five walks and two hit-by-pitches to toss a one-hit complete game with six strikeouts, a far cry from a forgettable debut at Clifton on April 3.
“No doubt about it, he had butterflies, and I think he walked six and hit three guys in the first two innings,” Passaic Tech coach Robert Nutile said as he recalled the 11-1 loss. “After the game, I said, ‘Don’t even go by what happened today’… and he came back and beat Wayne Hills, Kennedy and Eastside.”
The latter was Peña’s first career shutout, which came in his fourth varsity start.
His explanation for the rapid improvement: “Just relying on my infield and listening to my coach, him mentoring me about all the things I’ve got to do on the mound.”
Marcus Eusebio, the Bulldogs’ most established starter, picked up the win against West Milford on opening day and staked them to a 6-3 lead April 10 versus Kennedy before departing. The Knights rallied to tie, 6-6, and the game was called after eight innings due to darkness and later ruled an official tie according to Nutile.
Passaic Tech visits Wayne Valley on Friday and Passaic on Monday prior to the Passaic County tournament seeding meeting.