Big innings steer Bonnie Braves in 11U Grand Slam

By DN WRITING STAFF | October 11, 2022

Sean Rodriguez of Bonnie Braves scores on base hit by Theo Sinovoi, who was 3-for-3 with four RBI. 

By Sean Reilly 

The Bonnie Braves were in a situation that could have gone two different ways on Saturday morning.

The team from Brooklyn opened play at the Diamond Nation 11U Grand Slam Tournament in resounding fashion, by defeating the Keystone Nationals 11U White, 26-9. The Braves closed out that game by scoring 16 runs in the top of the final inning.

That game took place on Field 6 at ‘The Nation.’ And their next game was immediately after on the same field, against the GC Outlaws 11U.

The Braves didn’t even have to vacate their dugout before resetting for the second matchup. That meant they could have had trouble starting from scratch so quickly in a new game, or they could have maintained the momentum from the one that just ended.

The bats stayed active, the runs kept coming, and the Braves gained a 20-1, three-inning victory in Flemington.

Grand Slam MVP Mason Mercado of Bonnie Braves is greeted at the plate after his leadoff home run in the third inning.

Bonnie Braves coach Willie King was confident in how his team would respond.

“When you’re out there hitting for a long time and then you’ve got to pitch and play defense and then come back in the next game, it could be tough, but they did well,” he said. “We took advantage of some defensive mistakes that they made, and capitalized by getting hits after they made those errors.”

While many 11U teams get runs off of walks, steals and wild pitches, the Bonnie Braves are a side which makes things happen by getting their bats on the ball.

One of their standouts is Mason Mercado, who homered in each game on Saturday. Against the Outlaws, he was 3-for-3 with three RBI. He also pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless ball, with two hits allowed.

“It wasn’t hard to go back out after the first game,” he said. “It was pretty easy.”

Brooks Lewis started the second game for the Braves by drawing a full-count walk. Theo Sinovoi then singled him to third base. Sinovoi, who ended 3-for-3 with four RBI, stole second. The next batter lined out to shortstop, and Genarro Sirota followed with a productive out – a ground out to second base which scored Lewis. Ayden Ellison followed with a single to right field to deliver Sinovoi, and Mercado legged out a base hit to shortstop, allowing Ellison to score for a 3-0 lead.

The Bonnie Braves added four more runs in the second inning. Sinovoi hit a two-run double with nobody out, and Lewis King reached on an error which scored the other two runs for a 7-0 advantage.

In the third, the Braves put the game away with their second huge inning of the day. This time, it was a 13-run outburst.

Mercado got it started with an opposite field home run over the fence in right field.  Logan Ojeda added a two-run hit to right, Sinovoi hit a sacrifice fly, King had an RBI single to right field, Sirota hit into a fielder’s choice which scored a run and Ellison hit an RBI double for a 14-0 lead.

Mercado then came up for the second time in the inning and followed with an RBI single. Khalil Gayle then hit a run-scoring hit to center, Leo Figueroa drew a bases-loaded walk and Sinovoi’s two-run single closed out the scoring.

The Outlaws, out of New York state, avoided the shutout when Everett Nelson hit an RBI grounds rule double in the bottom of the third.

The highly-successful day enabled the Bonnie Braves to clinch a first-place finish in their pool with one game to spare. They went on to defeat the Diamond Jacks Super 11U, 10-0, on Sunday morning, then dispatched Jersey Shore Elite, 11-3, in the championship game.

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