Bagley’s epic at bat delivers for LIB Expos 16U

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 11, 2024

Wladyka’s Josef Kim provided a key RBI in the sixth inning.

By Rich Bevensee

Chase Bagley had one of those at bats which reaffirms his love for baseball, not because he provided his team with a clutch hit, but because of the battle he endured to get to that point.

The Locked In Baseball Expos trailed by two runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, and Bagley, a rising junior at Don Bosco Prep, came to bat with the bases loaded and two out. 

He worked a full count against Wladyka Continental pitcher Hudson Ferrando before fouling off four more pitches. The game hung on every swing. 

On the 10th pitch of the at bat and with the runners going, Bagley finally got a pitch he could handle and drove it up the middle to score the tying runs. One batter later Jack Markovich grounded one up the middle and the winning run scored to give the Expos a dramatic 5-4 victory in the Super 16 Invitational on Saturday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

“That’s the best at bat you can get in baseball,” Bagley said. “You’re put in a position where you can win the game or lose the game, and no one wants to go up there and lose the game.”

It was Bagley’s first hit of the evening against Wladyka pitching. He was 0-for-2 against Charlie Krasnove, a rising junior at Millburn, and he grounded out to second in his first at bat against Ferrando in the fifth.

What made Bagley’s hit stand out even more was that Wladyka led 3-2 when it tacked on an insurance run in the top of the sixth, thanks to a Josef Kim RBI groundout.

In the bottom of the seventh, Andrew Haviland set the stage for the Expos with a scorching, one-out double down the left field line. A Jackson Lewis walk and a Sam Bromage single loaded the bases for Bagley, the Expos leadoff hitter.

“Once I had two strikes I was trying to stay inside the ball and put it in play, just cause some havoc,” Bagley said. “As the at bat kept going on, the ball would look a little bit more familiar – I could see where it was breaking – but I was just doing my job and trying to get my barrel on the ball.”

Bagley was in position to drive in two runs because there was a full count with two out. The runners were going to be moving with the pitch.

Bagley’s grounder was smothered by Wladyka second baseman Charlie Wall several feet behind the pitcher’s mound. Haviland had already scored from third, and Lewis never broke stride rounding third, especially after seeing Wall dive for the ball. All Wall could do was watch as Lewis crossed the plate unchallenged.

“That’s the advantage there,” Leathers said. “They (the Expos baserunners) were a little bit gassed – they ran four, five times in a row – but if they’re not running on that one, we’re not scoring two runs. Because it’s 3-2, two outs, my guy’s at third when the second baseman is diving. That’s an easy send.”

Bagley was asked if he enjoyed not just the outcome, but the battle which led to his heroics. 

“It’s fun,” Bagley said. “As the at bat goes on I think the pitcher gets even more scared because he doesn’t know what to throw. On a 3-2 count with the bases loaded, he feels forced to throw a strike, and maybe he throws a pitch he’s comfortable with and that’s usually a pitch you can hit.

The Expos’ Chase Bagley is a blur headed to first with Wladyka’s Jake Wall awaiting the throw.

“That’s baseball, man. That’s what you play for.”

Long before Bagley’s heroics, Wladyka was in charge of this game from the jump. Krasnove held the Expos to one run on one hit and one walk with four strikeouts through the first four innings, and he was backed up by an unconventional three-run rally in the third inning.

Mike Pellegrino, one of Union Catholic’s leading hitters this spring with a .354 batting average, was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Aidan Alvino scored from third when a throwing error occurred trying to pick off Pellegrino at first. And Jake Wall scored on a wild pitch for a 3-0 Wladyka lead.

The Expos trimmed their deficit to one after scoring single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Chris Vaughn singled in a run in the fourth, and Bromage had an RBI groundout in the fifth. 

Wladyka scored a late and what was thought to be a valuable insurance run in the top of the sixth with Kim’s RBI groundout. 

That was the only run the Expos allowed over the final four innings thanks to a couple of rising juniors from Madison. Liam Melvin pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth inning, yielding no hits and no walks while striking out three. And Vaughn allowed one run over the final two frames on one hit and one walk. 

In the bottom of the seventh the Expos scored three runs on three hits, one walk and one error. It was by far their most productive inning of the game. 

“When you’re down two runs in the last inning your competitiveness really comes out,” Bagley said. “We said, ‘Let’s lock in and do what we have to do.’ Earlier in the game we were laid back and not really focused on the job we had to do. But in that situation in the seventh we saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.”

The Expos finished the showcase weekend 2-1. On Friday night they fell to Diamond Jacks Super 16U, 11-2, and defeated the TBT NY Ballers 2027, 3-0.

Wladyka closed out the weekend 1-1-1. On Friday night they beat Morris County Cubs White, 10-2, and tied Bucks County Generals 2026, 4-4.

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