Carter Kempinski scores for Steelsharks Baseball Select on sacrifice fly hit by Jackson Ondria.
By Sean Reilly
Some baseball teams like to use the bloop and a blast formula to stage a big inning.
For one game, at least, Steelworks Baseball Select benefited from a different mode of attack.
The free-swinging Pennsylvania team normally likes to hit for power. But on Saturday at Diamond Nation, it won an important contest by hitting bloops, bloops and more bloops.
Many of those well-placed hits came during a seven-run second inning that sent the Steelsharks Select to an 8-1 triumph over the SJ Titans in a pivotal Fall Harvest 12U tournament matchup in Flemington.
The Steelsharks are a team that thrives on making contact at the plate. They opened Saturday taking plenty of cuts, but hitting into outs during a 2-0 pitcher’s duel loss to Full Count Baseball in a game that took just over an hour to complete.
They were much more fortunate against the Titans, who opened Saturday with a 10-2 setback to the Diamond Jacks Super 12U.
In the game against the Titans, the Steelsharks sent a total of 31 batters to the plate. Of those, one struck out, one was hit by a pitch, and the other 29 put the ball in play. There were 13 hits, led by Paxton Pavlish and Carter Kempinski, who each went 3-for-3.
That many batted balls increases the odds that good things will happen, and that’s exactly what occurred as the Steelsharks bounced back for a split.
“We’re definitely a hitting team, for sure,” said Steelsharks coach Mike Ondria. “We’ve got some big bats on this team, and they weren’t there today for some reason. We had some bloops that fell in there to give us some runs. We thought we should be hitting the ball a little better and finding gaps.”
SJ Titans third baseman Jaxson Mitchell waits to tag out Steelsharks runner.
The Steelsharks also received a well-pitched game from the duo of Mason Martisofski and Jackson Ondria, who each worked three innings and combined on a two-hitter. Brody Salvatore had both of those hits for the Titans.
The seven-run second inning for the Steelsharks launched when Martisofski led off and was safe on a dropped pop up. He stole second and moved to third when Pavlish dropped a single into center field. Vaughan Emerich followed with a base hit into left field that scored the first run.
After an out, Beckett Pavlish hit a RBI single to right field that was compounded by a two-base error which scored another run. Kempinski then hit a single to third base that brought in the next run for a 4-0 lead.
Zane Balaziuk hit a single to shortstop, and Dallas Cruz reached on a single that dropped in left field to load the bases for Ondria, who was safe on a fielder’s choice that forced out Cruz at second and scored Kempinski from third.
Miguel Medina followed with a two-run single near the left field line for the final two runs of the frame.
The Steelsharks added their other run in the fourth inning, as Ondria hit a sacrifice fly to score Kempinski from third.
The Titans scored in the bottom of that inning, as Danny Pullman III reached on an error, stole second and scored when John Minch III was safe on an error.
Paxton Pavlish, who went 3-for-3 for Steelsharks Baseball, scores on hit by his brother, Beckett.
The Steelsharks were boosted by production from the bottom of its 10-man batting order.
Beckett Pavlish was 2-for-2 and was hit by a pitch from the eighth spot, Kempinski was 3-for-3 from the ninth slot and Balaziuk went 2-for-3 batting tenth.
“We like to make contact,” Jackson Ondria said. “That big inning got our energy up.”
Pitching wise, Martisofski allowed no runs on one hit, with three walks. Ondria allowed the unearned run on one hit, with two strikeouts and two walks.
“This was a good win after that first game,” Jackson Ondria said.
The win enabled Steelsharks Baseball Select to remain in contention for a first place pool finish and the accompanying championship-game berth. They’ll have to defeat the Diamond Jacks Super 12U (2-0) on Sunday afternoon, and then hope for tiebreaker criteria to work in their favor.