By Bob Behre
It’s not every day a team surrenders six runs in a single inning and still wins a game, but the Richmond County Nationals found a way in dramatic fashion last night in the 16U Summer Bash championship game at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
Rutgers commit Gus Sosa saw to it that a game that appeared to have no ending would conclude suddenly when he unloaded a two-run rainbow well beyond the fence in left-center field to give Richmond County a wild 9-7 victory over the First State Legends.
Sosa came to the plate with two outs and Lukas Torres on third base representing the winning run.
“I was just looking to hit something up the middle, definitely not looking to hit a home run,” said Sosa, a 6-2, 180-pound catcher out of Moore Catholic on Staten Island. “I got a fastball up and in, right where I like it.”
Sosa’s blast made a fitting end to an outstanding summer for the 16U Nationals, who had already won the Diamond Nation World Series, went 5-1 in Georgia and reached the semifinals in a national event in Louisiana.
“I didn’t think they’d pitch to Gus in that spot,” said Richmond County coach Justin Doyle. “We had a heck of a summer and that’s was a great way to end it.”
A single run was scored over the first three and a half innings, with the First State Legends nursing the tentative lead, but the game came a bit unhinged from there as each starting pitcher ran his pitch count up and the opposing bullpens had few answers for the potent lineups they faced.
The Legends’ six-run outburst in the top of the fifth staked the Delaware-based squad to a 7-3 but the Nationals did not cower.
Chris Figueroa singled and eventually scored on Mark Scamardella’s sac fly to shave the deficit to 7-4 in the bottom of the fifth and then the Nationals struck for three more runs in the sixth to tie the game at 7-7. Michael Mondone brought the first run home in the sixth with a fielder’s choice grounder. The second run scored on a throwing error and Figueroa struck again, this time with a two-out RBI triple to the right-center field gap that tied the game.
“That was a big time triple by Figgy,” said Doyle.
That set the stage for Sosa’s heroics in the seventh. Torres led off and reached on an infield single to the left side. Andrew Partnow bunted Torres over to second. Scamardella’s ground out to shortstop moved Torres to third. Then Sosa exhibited some frightening bat speed in unleashing his bomb to left-center.
The Nationals had answered the Legends’ run in the third with three runs in the bottom of the fourth and that was in dramatic fashion, too. Sosa drew a leadoff walk and Anthony Manisero, who was named the 16U Summer Bash Most Valuable Player, singled to center field. Colin Trembley stepped in and crushed a fastball over the left field fence for a three-run home run and a 3-1 lead for the Nationals.
But all those good feelings for the Nationals went by the board in the Legends’ next at bat. The Legends chased the Nationals starting pitcher Scamardella and accumulated six hits in sending 11 batters to the plate in a six-run explosion. Dwayne Graham, Nick Sipe, Jayden Wolford and Justin Blunt each had an RBI single in the rally while Justin Rivera forced home a run on a hit-by-pitch and Sipe scored on a wild pitch.
The Richmond County Nationals (6-0) outscored their opponents 55-15 while the First State Legends (5-1) held a 45-20 runs advantage on their opponents.
14U SUMMER BASH
The Richmond County Baseball Club Nationals defeated the Rochester Cougars Elite, 7-0, in the 14U Summer Bash Championship game. Colin Kratzer of the Nationals was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Richmond County (6-0) outscored its tournament opponents 46-13 while the Cougars (5-1) held a 49-25 runs advantage on their opponents.
13U SUMMER BASH
The AD Titans edged 13U Team Steel Gold, 5-4, in an extra-inning affair in the 13U Summer Bash championship game. Zach Selfin of the Titans was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Titans (6-0) outscored their tournament opponents 53-19 while Team Steel Gold (4-1) held a 57-9 runs advantage on its opponents.