Kevin Gallagher touches home plate after crushing a grand slam for Hustle Baseball 12U.
By Sean Reilly
The Hustle Baseball Academy 12U team has taken part in three tournaments this spring at Diamond Nation, and each time the Fairfield-based team has enjoyed both its experience and performance.
The latest trip was on Sunday to the rain-challenged Mother’s Day Classic in Flemington. Hustle Baseball Academy played two games, opening with a 16-10 victory over Delaware Elite Baseball Club and following with a 22-2 triumph over Loyalsock (Pa.) Travel Baseball.
Hustle Baseball Academy is now 8-2 this spring at The Nation, and most importantly, has shown improvement with each successive trip.
The first tournament was the King of the Diamond on April 8-10, when it won its first four games before falling to the Diamond Jacks Super 12s in the final. It returned for the Williams Harley Davidson Tournament last weekend, and went 2-1 in a very challenging pool.
“We love Diamond Nation,” Hustle Baseball Academy coach Esteban Rodriguez said. “We’ve been coming here for a while, for many, many years. We’ve had a pretty good season. We’ve been getting better. The kids have been working hard. Our first tournament here this year was very good, we made it to the final and threw two no-hitters. Last weekend, we went 2-1. We’re an offensive-oriented team and our defense is getting better.”
The feeling extends to the players. Anthony Cirigliano, for example, was 3-for-3 with a triple in Sunday’s opener against Delaware Elite, and then went 3-for-3 in the win over Loyalsock, in which his team scored all of its runs in a massive first inning.
“I love hitting at this place,” he said. “The balls just fly off the bat.”
Cirigliano is an example of the players throughout the Hustle Baseball Academy lineup who’ve steadied their game so far this season. The team is averaging 9.1 runs per game in its Diamond Nation games this year.
“We’ve been very good offensively and Anthony is a big part of our offense. He has been one of our best and most consistent hitters.” Rodriguez said.
“I have been working hard lately,” Cirigliano said. “I’ve had a good mindset.”
In its big inning against Loyalsock, all 12 players in the batting lineup reached base and scored. The biggest blow was a grand slam by Kevin Gallagher. Others with multiple hits were Alex Rusciano, Bryce Enterlin, Andrew Scaff, Jake Bonardi, Jackson Veneziano and Lucas Compres.
“It’s great when you hit like that,” Cirigliano said.
Gallagher also pitched well in the three-inning win over Loyalsock. He allowed three hits, with seven strikeouts and no walks.