Bergen Crush opens 11U World Series with convincing win

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 8, 2023

Crush first baseman Matthew Carvelli handles throw from second baseman Oliver Alba for an out. 

By Sean Reilly 

Bergen Crush came to Diamond Nation on Friday hoping to launch what could be a breakthrough weekend.

The Crush has had good results over the past two years competing at ‘The Nation,’ but has yet to emerge with a championship.

It drew Phenom NY in its 11U Youth World Series opener. A defeat wouldn’t spoil the weekend, but it would severely hurt its chances of advancing out of its pool and into the playoffs.

The Crush went home happy after Day 1 at the event, as it gained a 12-2, four-inning victory in Flemington.

The Crush faced an immediate test in the top of the first. Pitcher Max Graeber retired the first two batters, but a single and double put runners on second and third.

Graeber didn’t panic. Instead, he got an inning-ending strikeout.

“I had to get the kid out,” he said. “I had to let the defense make the play, or go for the strikeout. I got the strikeout, and got into a groove.” 

The Crush loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first but could not score, and went down 1-2-3 in the second inning.

But with Graeber retiring seven straight batters to keep Phenom NY off the board, the Crush erupted for nine runs in the third inning for a 9-0 lead.

The inning began with a full-count walk to Oliver Alba, who stole second before the next batter flied out to left field. Walks to Graeber and Matthew Carvelli loaded the bases.

With the infield playing in, cleanup man Peyton Lora delivered a two-run double to right field.

Tyler Buttieri was up next, and he hit a two-run single to left field for a 4-0 lead.

Jackson Solimine then singled on a tapper in front of the plate, and stole second to place runners on second and third for Ryan Wilton.

Wilton reached on a fielder’s choice which scored a run. Tanner Lawrence followed with a RBI ground out to second that extended the lead to 6-0.

Frankie Wilton was safe on an error that scored the seventh run, and after Alba drew his second walk of the inning, followed by his third stolen base of the frame, Joe Peterson was safe on an error that scored two for a 9-0 score.

Phenom NY scored twice in the top of the fourth. Nick Scharbach led off with a first pitch single to left field. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored when Eli Arencibia hit his second double of the game, on a ball hit to right field. Graeber retired the next two batters before Jacob Mercado hit an RBI single to shallow center. The next batter struck out.

In the bottom of the inning, Carvelli led off with his third walk. Lora was hit by a pitch, and Buttieri followed with a one-run double for a 10-2 lead.

Peyton Lora of the Bergen Crush takes flight toward the plate while scoring on single by Tyler Buttieri.

Solimine, who finished 2-for-3, followed with an RBI single to shortstop, and with a runner on second, a stolen base and throwing error to third allowed the game-ending run to score.

Buttieri finished the game 2-for-3 with a team-high three RBI, including the game-breaking hit that delivered the third and fourth runs in the big inning.

“I was up there thinking about hitting line drives,” he said. “I was just trying to get my bat on the ball. We have innings like that a lot.”

The rest of the weekend will be interesting for the Crush, who are in the same pool as their local Bergen County nemesis, the NJ Renegades. The teams have played a handful of times over the past two years, and the Renegades have won every time, mostly in close games. Among those matchups was a 4-3 Renegades win in the final of last year’s 10U Mid-Summer Classic at Diamond Nation.

The Crush will play the Renegades again in a pool matchup on Sunday afternoon, and there’s a chance it could determine which team advances into the playoffs on Monday.

The Crush also visited Diamond Nation for the April Fools Tournament in the spring, and went 1-1 with a third game rained out. 

“We’re looking to have a lot better weekend this time,” Buttieri said. “This was a good way to start off.”

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