Big second inning sends Biopitch to Beat The Heat title

By Bob Behre | July 25, 2022

Biopitch exploded for seven runs in the second inning and rode the combined pitching efforts of Dan Nafziger and Max Hinchliffe to a 9-0 victory over Complete Game Of Pa. and the 14U Beat The Heat White Bracket championship last night at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Nafziger and Hinchliffe combined to pitch a five-inning two-hit shutout, striking out four and walking one.

Their tidiness on the mound made Biopitch’s big second inning stand up. Harrison Eng, Davis Harr and Nafziger had the big at bats in the seven-run rally.

Eng followed Jake McDaniel’s leadoff single with a bomb to left field that went for a grounds rule double. Then Cam Estok, the No. 9 hitter, drew a walk to load the bases and flip the lineup back to the top. Biopitch was suddenly in business.

Leadoff batter Nick Rakoski brought the first run home on a fielder’s choice bouncer to the right side, before Harr laced a single up the middle to score two more runs. Austin Harr drew a two-out walk to set up Nafziger’s two-run triple to right field to extend Biopitch’s lead to 6-0. He would score later on an infield error to boost the lead to 7-0 and Jack  Murphy, who walked, scored on an infield error to cap the seven-run rally and lift the Biopitch lead to 8-0..

“We’ve been waiting for an inning like that all season,” said Biopitch coach Jason Clapper. “Our bats have caught fire and we are riding that momentum.”

Austin Harr’s bases-loaded walk in the first had accounted for Biopitch’s first run of the game. A 1-2-3 double play started by Complete Game pitcher Logan Babore got his team out of further trouble. It was a pair of walks and an error that initiated the trouble.

Meanwhile, Nafziger stranded a runner on third base in the first inning and runners on second and third in the second to complete two scoreless innings.

Babore singled with one out and reached third courtesy of a wild pitch and fielder’s choice. But Nafziger got the next two batters on grounders. Tyler Gilbert singled with one out in the second for Complete Game and reached third on a pair of wild pitches. Tyler Nau drew a walk and stole second, giving Complete Game two shots with one out and two runners in scoring position. But Nafziger buckled down and got a strikeout and a pop up to second to end the threat.

Max Hinchliffe pitched his team to two wins in the 14U Beat The Heat tournament.

Nafziger turned it over to Hinchliffe, who had already won a game in the tournament on Friday with 5.1 innings of sterling relief. This time, the lefthander took the ball at the start of the third inning and retired all nine batters he faced to secure the 9-0 mercy rule decision in five innings. Hinchliffe was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

“I was throwing all fastballs,” said Hinchliffe, “except I did throw two curveballs. I was throwing my four-seamer and just hitting the zone.” Indeed, Hinchliffe was incredibly efficient and economical, striking out two batters in the third inning, one in the fourth and inducing three straight fly balls in the fifth to put the game away.

“Max came into our game on Friday (a 9-5 victory over Baseball U. Pa. Pocono) with two outs, walked a guy then adjusted. He then pitched shutout ball the rest of the way for us,” said Clapper. “He hides the ball and locates his fastball real well.” Hinchliffe also had a two-run single in the victory over Baseball U. Pa.

With the eight-run mercy rule set up entering the top of the fifth, Biopitch tacked on an insurance run on Austin Harr’s two-out RBI single to right field. Rakoski drew a one-out walk and took second on Davis Harr’s subsequent single to center. The Harr brothers each went 2-for-3 in the game.

Jersey Shore-based Biopitch went 4-0-1 in the tournament and outscored its opponents, 40-15. Complete Game Of Pa. (3-1) held a 31-14 runs advantage on its tournament opponents.

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