ASBA Futures batter Jackson Houy gets ready for a pitch in Tuesday’s Super 17 game.
By Will Harrigan
Save for a few bad half innings, ASBA Futures 2023 Red was the better team in Tuesday’s Super 17 Invitational game against the NJ Saints.
And while they had to win the game the hard way after a bizarre seventh inning that featured two comebacks, ASBA Futures literally walked home with a victory in hand.
It ended in a fitting way for such a bizarre game as Tyler Iams drew a walk-off walk in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Futures to a 9-8 victory over the NJ Saints in the Super 17s Invitational at Diamond Nation. The Futures led 7-3 going into the seventh, but a furious Saints rally saw the Somerset County-based squad suddenly jump in front, 8-7.
ASBA Futures would rally with a two-spot of their own – capped off by Iams’ free pass – to end the drama.
“We got off to a good start and then we got complacent,” said ASBA Futures coach Zach Lutz. “We kind of slacked off at the plate and definitely on defense, and we almost got burned.”
In the decisive bottom of the seventh, the winners were able to push across the tying and winning run by drawing five walks.
The first – drawn by Aiden Hernandez – was negated by a fielder’s choice off the bat of Lucas Santise. But Brian Murphy, Lawton Simms, Paul Daly, and Iams all took four balls to force the tying and winning runs home. Daly’s free pass scored Murphy to tie the game at 7-7.
Those freebies issued by the Saints negated what was an incredible rally in the top half of the inning, one that saw them score five times to roar into the lead. The go-ahead blow came off the bat of Ari Litt, who launched an opposite field double deep into the right field corner to score a pair of runs and give the Saints an 8-7 edge.
A batter earlier, Pingry’s Jake Francis drove in a run by grounding into a fielder’s choice to score Union’s Mike DaSIlva, who had singled. Ridge’s Ben Carroll drove in the first run of the rally by launching a sacrifice fly to center field.
Hernandez – a product of Oxford Area HS in Pennsylvania – helped give his club a big lead, as his towering three-run homer to left field put the cherry on top of a five-run second inning for ASBA Futures. A batter earlier, Jackson Houy, of Perkiomen Valley High, doubled in a run to extend the lead to 2-0.
“(Aiden) did the same thing last week actually. He took a few hanging sliders, including today, and launched them deep. He has that kind of power if he gets around on one,” Lutz said.
Bridgewater-Raritan product Evan Goldberg spearheaded a mild rally in the fifth to help chip the ASBA lead to 5-3. Goldberg’s opposite field double brought home Ty Akins and Avery Whitney. Whitney, of Hillsborough, doubled in the first Saints run a batter earlier.