9ers right-fielder Joe Bentivegna looks like he has something appetizing to swing at.
By Will Harrigan
9ers 16U coach Corey Hamman is known for his exploits on the pitcher’s mound.
A star for Roxbury High and Montclair State in the 90s, Hamman rode his left arm all the way to the AAA level in the Tigers and Pirates organizations.
But, conversely, his 9ers team is excelling at the Blue Chip Prospects showcase this week because of their bats.
A relentless barrage of hits proved to be overwhelming for the Southern Maine River Rats, and the result was a 17-2 victory for the 9ers at Diamond Nation on Wednesday morning.
Hamman’s crew is now 3-0 in the tournament, and has outslugged their opponents 27-3 in the process. The River Rats concluded their week at The Nation winless in four tries in the highly competitive 16U Blue Chip.
“We have a really good offensive team, and we’ve been getting better over the summer,” Hamman said. “These guys do things the right way on and off the field to get better, and that’s how we train them to be.”
The decisive inning proved to be the second, as an eight-run explosion by the 9ers put the game essentially on ice. Four walks hurt the River Rats, plus the winners connected for six hits in the inning to help themselves out as well.
Ray Mulhern and Dylan Passo got the rally started by singling in a run each with the bases loaded to run the lead to 4-0. Jake Howlett would then come around to score on a wild pitch a batter later.
Later in the inning, nine-hitter Christian Finaccio added to the hit parade by launching a two-run double into the right-center field gap to boost the lead to 10-0 after just an inning and a half.
Earlier, consecutive walks earned by Mulhern and Passo got the rally started in a top of the first inning that saw the 9ers put up a two-spot. With two outs and the bases now loaded, Joe Maier of Donovan Catholic laced a single to right to score Mulhern and Passo to start the rally.
Maier – who plays for Hamman at Donovan Catholic – had a monster day at the dish, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two doubles.
“He’s a kid that has a lot of power but also a lot of speed. Once he puts the ball in play, if it’s to the right spot, he can leg out an extra base,” Hamman said.
The .9ers would go for seven more runs in the fourth to put the exclamation point on their big win.
Passo and Maier each roped two-run doubles in the inning, and that was sandwiched between a three-run moonshot home run off the bat of Rory Finn that landed well over the left-field fence.
The Rats got each of their hits in the third inning, and got two runs out of it. Bryden Marcotte would triple to lead things off, and a walk issued to Aaron Converse two batters later put runners on the corners.
James DiGiovanni would then deliver, as he roped a two-out double into the right-center field gap to score Marcotte and Converse, putting up a pair of runs for his club.