Jason Baker, who hit a grand slam, takes a pitch against the Staten Island Orioles on Friday night.
By Will Harrigan
The Diamond Jacks Super 12U squad found itself in an uncomfortable predicament on Friday night: Facing a serious risk elimination about an hour into a tournament.
But the kid appropriately named Baker served up a grand salami at the right time to set the DJacks back on track in the Spring Classic.
Jason Baker’s bases clearing bomb to the opposite field helped the Super 12U to a 9-5 victory over the Staten Island Orioles in Pool B action at Diamond Nation. The game was the only one of the night for both sides.
The big blast came with one out in the fourth, with the Diamond Jacks trailing 4-1 to their New York opponents.
“It was a 3-2 pitch, and I was sitting dead red because I figured a fastball was going to come,” Baker said. “I was able to put good contact on it and I was so happy when it went over the fence.”
To set up the rally, a base hit by Gino Spigarelli accompanied by two walks got the wheels in motion for the winners and set the table for Baker’s shot.
RBI doubles by Will Bacallo – who entered the game as a pinch hitter – and Remington Mortman helped the DJacks add three insurance runs in the sixth to win going away.
But for a while, it did not appear the night was going to go the hometown team’s way. The outfit from Staten Island is deep with hitters, and they came out and put up a three spot in the top of the first.
One such skilled player for the Orioles is Nick Berman, a one-man wrecking crew who torched the DJacks all night with his bat and with his arm for the first three innings before getting into trouble in the fourth.
Berman would finish 2-for-3 with a double and a sacrifice fly and three RBIs in tow. His RBI single followed by another one by Marco Cristino put the Staten Island club ahead 3-0 after one.
“It was a sloppy start for us and I was not really happy about that,” said Diamond Jacks coach Mark Crawford. “We hadn’t played in two weeks, but we put ourselves in a hole for a while. We did enough with our bats to get out of it.
Kamau Taylor of the Diamond Jacks was able to scrape a run back for his squad virtually by himself in the second.
Taylor would get on base by narrowly beating out an infield single, stole second and third, and then crossed home plate on a wild pitch to cap off a highly impressive display of resourcefulness on the bases.
Luca Catanzarite pitched five innings of two-run ball to keep the Diamond Jacks in it, an unsung hero that Crawford acknowledged in his postgame remarks.
“Bringing in Luca was the right move. We had to make sure we were in striking distance, and he did a good job for us,” Crawford said.
Owen Rivenbark helped manufacture an insurance run for the winners in the fifth, singling and stealing second base, allowing him to cross home after an Orioles fielding mishap.
Both sides will be back in action on Saturday, as the Jacks will play Cage Academy at 6:30 p.m., immediately followed by a clash with Centercourt Young Guns. The Orioles will play in both of those time slots against the same opponents, just in reverse.