Hudson Narke of Bell Ringers 2023 hits an opposite field, RBI double in the second inning.
By Rich Bevensee
A funny thing happened to right-hander Hudson Narke as he went to the bench after filling up the strike zone with a high-80s fastball and a darting curve to chalk up a perfect first inning.
His team, the Philadelphia-area Bell Ringers 2023, kept him seated perhaps longer than he wanted as they batted around in the top of the second inning and scored seven runs. It’s the Catch-22 with which all pitchers have a love-hate relationship.
When Narke took the mound for the second inning, his mechanics were less than sharp and MVP Beast 2023 National took advantage, scratching him for three runs.
“Seven runs is great to pitch with, but if you’re really feeling it in the first inning and then you have to sit around for 45 minutes, it really stinks,” Narke said. “My coach let me know to keep my head over my feet when I finish. I came around and I figured it out.”
Narke pitched two more scoreless innings before handing off to Trey Tiffan, who allowed the tying run to reach third before slamming the door on a six-inning, 7-6 Bell Ringers victory in the Super 17 Wood Bat World Series on Tuesday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
The Bell Ringers evened their record at 1-1 in their four-game pool play schedule after bowing to Diamond Jacks 17U Gold, 7-0, in both teams’ opener. The Bell Ringers face Hustle Baseball Academy on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., and AllStars Academy Select 17U on Thursday at 12:15 p.m.
MVP Beast got trimmed 5-3 by Hustle Baseball on Monday and is now 0-2 overall. Next up for the Beast is Complete Performance 18U on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., and U.S. Elite NJ 2023 on Thursday at 12:15 p.m.
The Bell Ringers carved out their seven-run second inning by sending 11 batters to the plate and getting a string of five straight run-scoring hits off Beast starter Dylan Rorech.
“We have some guys who can swing the bat, have good approaches and stick to them,” Bell Ringers coach Ken Elkind said. “They put good swings on pitches and the ball went our way.”
After Matt Tsiaras walked, Jack Stead chased him home by hitting a line drive to left which hopped over the left fielder and to the wall while Stead steamed into second with a double. Jeremy Stranix followed with an RBI single to center.
Narke helped his own cause with an excellent piece of hitting. He reached out for an outside pitch and somehow slapped a low liner inside first base and along the right field line for an RBI double.
“That was one competitive AB,” Elkind said with a laugh. “He was down 1-2 and had to grind his way through an at bat. He got his barrel on the ball and found a hole.”
Alex Larson relieved Rorech, and Mike McGrory greeted the reliever with another RBI double. Leadoff man Tim Dickinson then stroked the team’s third straight RBI double for a 5-0 lead. Bobby Kleckner walked, Tiffan dropped a run-scoring single into left center and Kleckner scored on a wild pitch for a 7-0 Bell Ringers lead.
“We’ve got guys who are going to grind out at bats no matter what, are always gonna swing it, and at the end of the day we made their pitcher work,” said Dickinson, a rising senior at Malvern Prep who has committed to St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia. “We kind of expect days like this where guys are swinging, and if not, we have guys who get on base no matter what – walks, hit by pitch – and try to make the pitcher work and make him uncomfortable.”
The Bell Ringers would score no more, as Larson yielded only one hit and one walk after the second-inning explosion. Larson’s final line was three earned runs in 4⅔ innings on four hits, two walks and a hit batsman with six strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Narke went out for the bottom of the second inning and surrendered two straight walks to start the frame. After a strikeout, Miami commit J.T. Caruso whipped a ground-rule, RBI double over the right-center field fence. Narke got another strikeout for the second out, but Aidan Murphy knocked a two-run single into right, cutting the Beast deficit to 7-3. Caruso is a rising senior at Mount Sinai High School.
“I was throwing mainly fastball-slider, and in the first inning I felt I was throwing hard, but I relied on the slider more when my velo went down a bit,” said Narke, a rising senior at Phoenixville High School (near Valley Forge). “We had a big inning – our guys were hitting the ball – so we sat around for a while and I had to go out there and I was falling off a bit. I had to keep my head straight and my eyes on the catcher the whole time.”
Narke corrected his mechanics well enough to pitch two more scoreless innings.
“Huddy always is a guy who fills up the zone for us and he’s usually attacking guys,” Elkind said. “We took the lead and he got himself into trouble with some walks, but when he’s throwing strikes he’s usually effective. He has sharp stuff that can get guys out.”
Narke waded back into trouble in the bottom of the fifth. After yielding a single to Murphy and a ground rule double to leadoff hitter Aidan Katzman, Narke was relieved by Tiffan.
Ryan Muskopf greeted the hard-throwing Tiffan with an opposite field, RBI single to right, and MVP Beast crawled to within a run when Jaylen Hernandez followed with a two-run single into center and just past the outstretched glove of second baseman Dickinson.
MVP Beast got the tying run aboard in the sixth when Tiffan, topping out at 86 miles per hour on the radar gun, yielded a one-out walk to Caruso. Caruso advanced to third when Kyle Bailey reached on a throwing error but then was tagged out at second after Bell Ringers first baseman Kleckner alertly chased down the ball and threw to Stead at short. Tiffan induced a ground out to third to clinch the victory.
“Trey helped me out a lot there,” Narke said. “I wouldn’t want to get in there against him. He doesn’t smile or anything. He just gets in there and fires. As soon as he came in I was like, ‘We got this in the bag.’ “
Narke permitted five runs on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 4⅓ innings.
“I’d say I was right in the middle today – not great and not bad,” he said. “I started off well but started losing it a bit at the end. Maybe I need to do more sprints or something. As long as we get the win.”