GBG Northeast batter Alex Miranda locks in on the pitch that he smashed for crucial three-run triple.
By Sean Reilly
The Garciaparra Baseball Group Northeast Hawks 13U traveled from their base in Foxboro, Massachusetts to Diamond Nation this weekend having played well, but looking for more complete efforts.
“We’ve been off to slow starts,” said coach Chris Sullivan, who hoped that his team would put forth a more aggressive effort during Sunday’s pool play matchup against Flood City Elite at the 13U Memorial Day Blast, Powered By Victus, in Flemington.
The game didn’t start the way GBG may have wanted – it loaded the bases with one out but could not score in the top of the first, and then conceded a run in the bottom of that inning.
But everything changed in the top of the second, when it erupted for seven runs, which led to an impressive 11-3 victory. Aggression? Check! The inning featured a two-run, go-ahead double by Conor Alvezi and three-run triple by Alex Miranda.
It was all in support of pitcher John Kraus, who celebrated his 14th birthday by throwing a five-inning four-hitter, with four strikeouts and three walks.
“This is one of the better games we’ve played,” said Sullivan, whose team improved to 2-1 on the weekend and will close out play against the Morris County Cubs Navy on Monday morning.
Kraus was steady in defeating the Pennsylvania-based Flood City, which entered with a 1-0-1 record on the weekend.
“My curveball was working,” he said. “After getting the lead, I could pitch with more confidence.”
Flood City scored in the first inning after Ty McGough led off with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a one-out fly out and then scored on a wild pitch.
GBG Northeast then took over with its big second inning. After the first batter popped out to shortstop, a walk to Owen Sokolowski was followed by a single from William Wainwright and a walk to Blake Pileski, which loaded the bases for the top of the order.
Alvezi followed with a two-run double to left field, part of an afternoon in which he also reached on an error, singled and walked in his four at-bats. Kraus was then hit by a pitch, which reloaded the bases and forced a pitching change.
Miranda was up next, and he launched a bases-clearing triple to right-center field for a 5-1 lead.
“I went up there and thought about going yard,” he said. “I was looking for a pitch middle in, and got it.”
Eddie Ritchie followed with a walk and stole second. Ryan Gavigan hit a ball to shortstop, and the throw came to the plate, but Miranda was safe. The final run of the inning scored on a ground out to first by Grady Tempesta.
Flood City’s first two batters were retired in the bottom of the second, but an infield hit, error and walk loaded the bases. Kraus then got the third out on a pitcher-to-first ground out, as both he and his team maintained momentum.
Flood City did score twice in the third, with Chase Link hitting a two-run double with two out, but Kraus struck out the next batter looking.
GBG Northeast then scored four times in the top of the fourth. Miranda led off by drawing a full-count walk, and Ritchie and Gavigan also walked to load the bases. Tempesta walked next to score Miranda. Ryan Marrone was safe on a fielder’s choice to score Ritchie for a 9-3 lead. The other runs scored on a fielder’s choice from Sokolowski and a bases-loaded walk to Alvezi.
Kraus then retired six of the final seven Flood City batters, allowing just a two-out walk in the fourth, to close out his birthday performance in style.
“He’s been so strong for us,” Sullivan said.
Braden Hatch finished with a single and a walk for Flood City Elite, which finishes its weekend against the Diamond Jacks Gold 13U, which has clinched a first-place pool finish, on Monday afternoon.