Maybe Frank Cutolo of the “Crazy Franks” isn’t so crazy after all.
After hounding his son to go back to basics, he watched as Julian pounded out three hits and drove in five runs as Las Vegas smoked Moline, Ill., 12-2 in the winner’s bracket of the American Legion World Series at Avista Stadium Saturday night.
“I’ve been seeing the ball great,” Julian Cutolo said, shrugging off his 0-for-4 in the Lions’ opener. “I went back to how I was hitting in State. I won the MVP in state, batted .542, drove in 13 runs.”
The Nevada state champions (48-15) play the winner of the late game between Midwest City, Okla., and Eden Prairie, Minn., in the late game tonight. Moline (42-8) plays Roseburg, Ore., (34-14) at 1 p.m. in a loser-out game.
Las Vegas hitter Jake Hager, who had three hits and scored three times, and the next two hitters set the table, allowing Cutolo to feast.
The designated hitter drove in the third run in the three-run first inning, his hard grounder careening off the Moline first baseman. He had a two-run double in the fifth that made it 7-0 and then sliced a two-run triple into the right-field corner in the fourth-run seventh that led to the game ending because of the 10-run rule.
“I live in right field, that’s all I try to do,” he said. “Let the ball travel, I get to see it longer and just shoot it to right field. That’s where all my hits were today.”
After the monster state tournament, which followed a senior season of near .444 hitting for Sierra Vista to earn a scholarship at McCook (Neb.) Community College and a .429 Legion season, he lost his approach at the plate, hitting .227 in the Western Regional.
“The coaches tried to help me and make an adjustment and that messed me up bad,” Cutolo said. “You probably heard my dad screaming, he’s kind of been in my ear. He doesn’t know that much but (he said) you just need to go back to your old self and I did. … Timing’s the whole thing. I went back to how I (did) and everything just fell into place.”
Cutolo, who also plays left field and catcher was able to put the cold streak out of his mind.
“I don’t ride an emotional roller coaster,” he said. “I try to stay even keel as much as I can. After that’s done, I flush it because there’s nothing I can do. You’ve got to worry about the next one.”
Which is one reason LV coach Levi Gill wasn’t worried.
“He’s been solid all year long,” Gill said. “He’s been doing a good job of putting the ball in play and that’s all we’re asking him to do. He’s swinging at good pitches. Sometimes you don’t get hits and sometimes you get hits and drive in a bunch of runs.”
The only question left to answer is about the crazy fans.
“We’ve got the Crazy Franks here,” Cutolo said. “The one that jumped on the dugout is Frank (Estrella). Everybody loves (Dad), he tries as hard as he can to pump us up, both of them do.
(Dad’s) from New York, that’s where he gets it. They’re making up for all the people we’re missing. They’re trying their hardest. It’s great to hear them behind us.”
Kernersville 8, Branford 6
Three pitches into the loser-out game Kernersville led 2-0, but by the ninth inning it was nail-biting time as for the second straight day the North Carolina team watched a comfortable early lead melt away. This time it survived. Brandon Harrison hit a first-pitch two-run opposite field home run and Kernersville (32-16) led 3-0 after an inning and 5-0 into the bottom of the fifth.
Branford, down 8-5, loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but the Connecticut squad (28-9) only scored once and was eliminated. Alex Swim and Harrison had three hits apiece for the victors and first baseman Corey McKinney drove in a pair of late key runs with two hits. He also made a spectacular third-inning foul-ball catch, holding on after tumbling heels-over-head into box seats near the dugout.
Roseburg 11, Chesapeake 10
Brandon Jackson hit an RBI double to provide the Oregon team with what would prove to be the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Jackson (8-1) also picked up the win, allowing 12 hits while striking out seven and walking three in nine innings. Just five of the 10 runs scored by Chesapeake were earned as Roseburg, which committed seven errors in its opener on Friday, had five Saturday.
Johnny Farrington led Roseburg at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two RBI while Cameron Newell was 2 for 5 with a home run and three RBI.
Matt Dickason went 3 for 3 with three RBI to lead the Virginian team (29-8).