Italy’s JV Gladiators get a walk off hit from Pedro Salazar to beat Milford 8-7

Image: Kenneth Norwood, Jr.(5), closes out the game for the JV Gladiators who pull together for a comeback win over MIlford, 8-7.

Kenneth Norwood, Jr.(5), closes out the game for the JV Gladiators who pull together for a comeback win over MIlford, 8-7. (Barry Byers)

Italy — Setting the tone for an exciting evening of Italy Gladiator baseball on Tuesday were the JV Gladiators who rallied back in dramatic fashion to get the win over visiting Milford.

Jorge Galvan began the game on the mound for the Italy JV Gladiators while Kenneth Norwood, Jr., started out behind the plate.

Both sides were playing well but Milford managed a 6-2 advantage prompting Italy’s coaching staff to make some changes in the bottom of the third.

Norwood went to the mound, Galvan went to third-base and Eli Garcia put on the catcher’s gear. Norwood got Italy out of the inning, with help from a play on a grounder hit to second-baseman Hunter Ballard who threw to Tristan Cotten on first for the out. And with that, both sides prepared for what was sure to be a battle to the end.

To start the fourth, Italy’s Joe Celis drives a shot into left field and then legs out a triple on the play. Eli Garcia then singles to score Celis, making the score 6-3 Milford. With Garcia on base, Mason Womack connects to put runners on first and second for Italy.

Austin Crawford then rips a 2 RBI double to score Garcia and Womack, Milford leads by one, 6-5. Norwood grounds out but Crawford hustles over to get into scoring position at third.

With Cotten now at the plate, while wearing a protective mask after being hit in the mouth last week, a wild pitch allows Crawford to hurry across home plate to tie the score, 6-6.

Cotten earns a walk. With Galvan battling at the plate, Cotten steals second by beating the throw-down. Cotten quickly takes third and then steals home after another wild pitch by Milford. Cotten gives Italy a 7-6 lead at which point he is mobbed by teammates Crawford and Colin Newman in celebration.

Galvan gets on base with a walk. Ballard confidently steps into the batter’s box with a gritty look of determination. Ballard swats a rocket into left field allowing Galvan to go from first to third.

Celis, the man who started the rally, returns to the plate and distracts Milford long enough for Ballard to steal second. Milford finally gets their third out off a strikeout but not before Italy took control of the game.

The game moves into the top of the fourth-inning with Norwood still on the mound and Sam Corley taking over at first for Cotten.

Milford manages to tie the game on a wild pitch, 7-7. Norwood hangs in there to record a strikeout for the third out, setting up an unforgettable bottom of the fourth.

Garcia gets on base to represent the winning run for Italy. Celis takes his place as the pinch runner. With Pedro Salazar striding to the plate and then putting up a fight once the pitches started coming, Celis was able to steal second and then third. And then it happened. With the game knotted at 7-all, a solid swing by Salazar darted the ball down the third base line. Without hesitation, Celis headed for home.

Milford’s third-baseman corralled the ball and then threw home in hopes of stopping Celis from scoring. The throw sailed wide of its mark and Celis took the catcher’s knee to his face as he slid across home plate. Safe! Simultaneously, Salazar was rounding first with a chance to see his handy work. He had done it! Salazar had came thru with a walk off hit to secure the win! Salazar was immediately congratulated by first-base coach Jackie Cate and then by his teammates with Salazar being the talk of the town ever since. Italy’s JV Gladiators win a wild one, 8-7 over Milford.

Salazar! Salazar!! Salazar!!!