Atlantic Reign puts forth complete effort in 15U Invitational

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 22, 2023

Dylan Mendez rounds third and heads home during Atlantic Reign’s six-run second inning.

By Rich Bevensee

If that was indeed the final summer game for the Atlantic Reign 15U ballclub, the boys who will be finding other means of activity before school resumes have plenty of reasons to be proud.

Nick Atme drove in five runs, a trio of pitchers allowed just five hits over five innings, and Atlantic Reign, by virtue of its 11-3 mercy-rule victory over Beast 2026 American, concluded a whale of a campaign on Thursday afternoon at Diamond Nation in Flemington. 

“We’re done. This is it for the 15s,” said Reign coach Mike Bellovich, whose team finished 15-2. “Most of this team will go to the 16s and play the rest of the season, but this group is done. I was not surprised at all how well we played. I’ve had these kids forever so I knew exactly what they could do. It’s a good group of kids.”

“We’ve been playing together for seven or eight years so we love being together. We have great chemistry,” said Bellovich’s son, Alex, the starting pitcher. 

The win gave Atlantic Reign a 4-0 record for the week in the Super 15 Invitational – they outscored opponents 30-9 – and a chance for this team to come together once more before summer fades into fall.

The top five teams from the Invitational, as well as the Father’s Day Classic, 15U World Series, Beat The Heat and Boys Of Summer events at ‘The Nation’ are invited to compete in the Super 15 Top 25, Aug, 14-18. Atlantic Reign was one of five teams to finish the Invitational 4-0. 

The week-concluding triumph was an offensive showcase for Atme, a rising junior at Glen Rock. Atme went 3-for-4 with a double, five RBI and two runs scored.

“The summer’s been really good,” Atme said. “I’ve been hitting well but I’ve had my ups and downs. When you’re hot you try to stay on it, and you look forward to your next at bat. You don’t look over the bad ones. You have to have the same approach every time.”

Alex Bellovich, normally the starting catcher, drew the starting pitching assignment and threw 2⅔ innings, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks with three strikeouts. The right-hander pulled himself from the game due to soreness in his pitching shoulder. 

“He’s usually our catcher so we don’t pitch him too much,” Mike Bellovich said. “But we try to get him a start every two weeks or so.”

“My shoulder was hurting starting in the third inning, so I thought it was better that I not pitch anymore,” said Alex Bellovich, a rising sophomore at Ramapo who employed a two-seam fastball, changeup and curveball. “Overall I felt pretty good. Just trying to throw the ball over the plate because it was not really an important game. The curveball was off but the fastball was working today.”

Bellovich said he tries not to relate catching duties when he’s on the mound.

“When I’m pitching I try not to think of the bad calls. I go out there and throw,” he said.

Nick Atme had three hits (including a double), five RBI and two runs scored for Atlantic Reign.

Hudson Ferrando relieved Bellovich and pitched an inning and a third scoreless with three hits, no walks and one strikeout. Ryan McCabe pitched the fifth inning and yielded a run but no hits or walks, and struck out one.

“The key this week for us was pitching, definitely,” Mike Bellovich said. “We hit no matter what, and our all-around play was great, but you have to have the pitching. We’re dealing with other tournaments back to back so you have to spread out the pitching as best you can. We had our aces going the first two days and then had to bull through the rest of it.”

This week, Atlantic Reign defeated the Lawrence Thunder, 4-3, Triple Crown Baseball, 7-3, and Canes New Jersey 2026, 8-0, before defeating the Beast.

The bottom of the second inning was the Beast’s downfall. Atlantic Reign sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs on two hits, five walks and one error, and claimed a 9-0 lead. The highlight of the inning was Atme’s three-run double.

Atme actually began the offensive tidal wave with an RBI single in the first inning. Aiden Ogando followed with another RBI single and Ferrando had a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 Reign lead.

In the second, Ryan Seddon ignited his Atlantic Reign’s six-run rally by reaching on a walk. On three consecutive pitches he stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch.

Atme came to the plate with the bases loaded and uncorked a bases-clearing shot down the left field line. Ogando added a sac fly and Bellovich singled in a run. 

Beast came alive in the top of the third for two runs, as John Drew and Nathan Greene stroked back-to-back RBI singles. Reign made it 10-2 in the bottom of the third with a Bellovich sac fly. 

In the top of the fourth, Beast avoided a shorter mercy-rule game by scoring on a Luke Bartolo fielder’s choice to trim their deficit to 10-3. 

In the bottom of the fifth, Atme finished off the Beast with a walk-off RBI single. 

Greene, the Beast’s third pitcher, performed well in relief. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed two runs on two hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 3⅔ innings.

Beast finished 1-3 for the week. After losing to the Lower Bucks Minutemen, 5-0, Beast rebounded with a 5-1 win over Pro Skills 15U. That was followed by losses to Triple Crown Baseball, 8-0, and to Atlantic Reign.

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