Joey Conti tossed a one-hitter to lead the Bandits past Baseball U NY in 16U Blue Chip play.
By Luis Torres
Joey Conti had one goal entering his start on Tuesday.
It was to touch 86 mph with his fastball — and it didn’t take him long to do so, accomplishing the feat in just the first inning, according to the scoreboard radar gun. The speed was a career-high for the righty, and it was a sign of things to come for his performance.
Conti tossed five shutout innings, allowing just one hit with eight strikeouts as Baseball Bandits Club defeated Baseball U NY 16U Macko 9-0 in four and a half innings in 16 Blue Chip Prospects play at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
Conti’s power fastball, along with a mix of a curveball and change-up, allowed him to dominate opposing hitters. His first-inning fastball was one of the highlights of his day.
“I wasn’t looking at the scoreboard, but my teammates in the dugout were telling me,” Conti said. “I was coming into the day trying to throw 86, and it happened. I feel good.”
That set the tone for Conti and the rest of his teammates. He only recorded one strikeout in the first inning but got stronger as the game went on, striking out the side in the third inning after working around a one-out single, the lone blemish on his outing.
Conti began mixing in his breaking ball and change-up the second and third time through the order, and he ended the contest by striking out the last two batters looking.
“I’ve been working on my change-up for the past year or two,” he said. “I’m scared to throw it in a game, but today, I just found the confidence early low and away, and it just did its thing when I threw it.”
“He was great. He was just pounding the zone. Might’ve been pinched on a couple of calls, but he had great command of three pitches. The change-up really came into play in the second inning,” added coach David Roy.
Conti’s offense provided more than enough run support in the second inning.
Catcher Dylan Roberts opened the scoring with a RBI triple to right field. One batter later, Connor Caprio doubled the advantage with an RBI single. In total, Baseball Bandits Club scored four runs in the second inning to seize control.
Aiden Cherniawski provided the highlight for the offense, cranking a two-run home run to right field in the third inning to extend the lead to 6-0. The blast came one at-bat after Cherniawski took two pitches down the middle and struck out by chasing a high and away pitch.
“He’s been struggling a little bit, and we were talking in the (batting) cage and just gave him some mental tips and everything for him just to stay positive,” Roy said. “In his previous at-bat, he chased a ball high and out of the zone and saw two pitches right down the middle. He was just able to turn on one.”
With Cherniawski’s power and Conti’s mix of pitches, Baseball Bandits Club improved to 2-0 in tournament play, outscoring their opponents 20-3. Roy is looking for the momentum to continue the rest of the week.
“It’s a great team win,” he said. “We’re enjoying it down here. 2-0 and only have given up a couple of runs and looking forward to the next couple of days.”