Big first inning guides 9ers in Super 17 Word Series

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 28, 2022

9ers pitcher Jason Basilicata sends a heater your way.

By Will Harrigan

The first inning of Wednesday afternoon’s Super 17 World Series game was played out in three different chapters for 9ers Baseball 17U.

Leading things off, two quick outs were made, putting the inning on track to finish in quick time. But then, in what is a remarkable baseball feat for perhaps the wrong reasons, the 9ers were able to score three runs without actually putting the ball in play.

And the last scene of this rally came when they finally did put the ball in play, which doubled the lead and sent them to a comfortable victory in the process.

Christopher Manco’s bases clearing double proved to be the dagger, as the 9ers used a six-run first inning to cruise to an 8-2 victory over Team Elite Liberty 16U at Diamond Nation. With the triumph, the 9ers are now 2-1 in World Series action. Team Elite Liberty fell to 1-2 with the loss.

“Well, I can’t say that’s how I drew it up, but when we got two down, I told the guys just keep the inning going,” said 9ers coach Jimmy Wynne. “And to be able to score three runs by not putting the ball in play, I see that as a sign of our plate discipline and focus being locked in.”

With two outs in the first, Hawkins Sutter and Navy-bound Leo Mangiamele were each struck by a pitch to get aboard.

Brady Leach and Owen Kenney then worked full counts to ultimately draw free passes, with Kenney’s base on balls bringing in the first run. Another walk issued to Jack Moses forced in a second run, and Leach would come around on a wild pitch shortly thereafter,  boosting the lead to 3-0 without a single ball put in play.

Sebastian Perez zones in on a pitch. Perez drove in both runs for Team Elite Liberty.

After another walk that would reload up the bases, setting up Manco – a Pope John player who travels to the Shore from Oak Ridge in Morris County to play with the 9ers – to lace a double in the left-center field gap and clear the bases. The three-run double extended the lead to 6-0.

“Christopher’s been swinging the bat really well lately. Even when he’s been getting out, he’s hitting the ball hard. He’s a very important piece of our team and we’re glad to have him,” Wynne said.

Manco would drive in another run as part of a two-run third for the 9ers, as his sacrifice fly to the left field warning track drove in Kenney, who reached on an error. A batter earlier, Chris Cartnick – who starred on Jackson Memorial’s Shore Conference runner-up – singled in a run.

Sebastian Perez of Team Elite Liberty was responsible for driving in both of his club’s runs, each in the body of Aaron Babaev. In the second, Perez roped a double to score Babaev, and his grounder to short in the fourth also did the trick.

Jordan Serrano and Mateo Marino also had hits for the Long Island-based squad.

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