A’s Nation catcher Eric Feliciano handles throw from pitcher Noah Lesperance for force out that preserved a one-run lead in the sixth inning.
By Sean Reilly
The move up to a larger field offered a new experience, and certainly a new challenge, for dozens of 13U players over the weekend at Diamond Nation.
But in one very important play, A’s Nation third baseman J.R. Brovak demonstrated that the bigger field, with 90 feet between the bases, compared to the 70 feet on the 12U level, also offers advantages to the players now making the adjustment with the start of the fall season.
A’s Nation was clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the sixth inning in its pool play game against Avengers Baseball 13 Rising at the 13U Labor Day Blast on Monday afternoon.
Avengers Baseball had the bases loaded with two out when its batter hit a sharp ground ball that was fielded impressively by Brovak. It would have been a tough play to make on the compressed 12U diamond, and a quick throw would have been required to hopefully retire the runner. But on the bigger field, he was able to collect himself and throw to first baseman Michael Lingrell in plenty of time to get third out.
A’s Nation, out of Mercer County, kept Avengers Baseball off the board in the seventh to hold on for a 4-3 victory in Flemington. The win completed a 2-2 showing at the tournament.
“It felt great to make that play,” Brovak said. “When I was charging at the ball, it got stuck in my glove a bit, so I was trying to make a quick throw, and make sure that I got the out, because if I didn’t it would be a tie game or worse if I made an error with a rushed throw. But I had more time to do it. The bigger field has its pros and cons. You have more time on the bigger field. If that was on a 50/70 field, that play would have been a lot quicker. I wasn’t trying to take that play slowly, but it was definitely nice to have the extra 20 feet for the kid.”
The Avengers (1-3), from the Emmaus, Pa. area, took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Tanner Karwacki led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on a hit to second base by Jake Santiago.
Santiago stole second, and, after both runners stayed put on a pitcher-to-first ground out, Jason Marsten drove in both with a single to right field.
A’s Nation tied in its half of the inning. Anthony Prosdocimo singled with one out and took second on an error. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single to shortstop from Austin Wright. Brovak later coaxed a bases loaded walk on a full count with two out to score Wright.
A’s Nation added two more runs in the bottom of the second. Chris Bailey led with a walk and stole second. Catcher Eric Feliciano singled Bailey to third, and was replaced by courtesy runner Jackson Alexander. With Noah Lesperance at the plate, a throwing error on a steal scored Bailey, and Lesperance followed with an RBI single for a 4-2 lead.
“Our team, after the top of the first inning, we were down in the dumps after giving up two runs,” Brovak said. “We fought back, got two more runs and held the lead for the rest of the game.”
Avengers Baseball closed within a run in the fourth inning. Dominic Ruggeri walked with one out and stole second. Danny Fries battled back from an 0-2 count to walk, and the runners stole second and third, respectively. Parker Davis had an RBI groundout to third to score Ruggeri.
Avengers Baseball had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but A’s Nation reliever Prosdocimo got a called third strike and a pop up to Brovak at third to end the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Avengers Baseball loaded the bases with one out. A comebacker to new reliever Lesperance resulted in a force out at the plate. The next batter sent the grounder to Brovak at third base for the third out which maintained the lead.
Avengers baseball had one more chance in the seventh inning. With one out, Jake Moyer walked on a full count and stole second. Lesperance then got a strikeout and ground out to shortstop to close out the game.
“The tournament was awesome,” Brovak said. “I always love playing at Diamond Nation. The fields are beautiful and the whole complex is nice. Getting to play on this field was an honor. Moving up to the big field is a lot different, but you get used to it. It’s better playing on 60/90, definitely, instead of the smaller ones.”