Big sixth inning steers NY Dynasty in 13U Summer Bash

By DN WRITING STAFF | August 12, 2023

By Rich Bevensee

Joseph Ozzimo doesn’t mind runners on base while he’s pitching in a tight, low-scoring ballgame. He’s got the confidence he can lock things down until offensive reinforcements arrive.

That moment arrived in the top of the sixth inning, when his New York Dynasty team exploded for 11 runs and skated away with a 15-3 victory over the Guilderland (N.Y.) Bulldogs in 13U Summer Bash pool play on Saturday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington.  

Leading the Dynasty offense were Michael Gaudasino, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI, and Connor Pannell, who went 2-for-2 in that huge fifth inning and knocked in a run both times.

Ozzimo scattered six hits over six innings but more importantly, the southpaw had the Bulldogs lineup banging their bats against the ground in frustration. In the first four innings alone, he stranded seven runners, five in scoring position.

“What he does is he gets a ticked-off attitude,” Dynasty coach Chris Mirasola said. “He’s so tough on himself that he battles really well, and that shows a lot on the mound. Kids his age usually fold, but not him.”

With runners on first and second in the first inning, Ozzimo induced a groundout. With runners on second and third in the second inning, he got an inning-ending fielder’s choice. He left a runner on second in the third inning with a strikeout. And runners were left at first and third in the fourth inning after a fly out.

“I didn’t really get ahead in the count and I had to come back at the end of the inning to get batters out,” Ozzimo said. “Sometimes it’s hard to focus, but most of the time I’m able to get out of the jam. I usually say, ‘I gotta get this batter, focus on this batter, don’t focus on the runners.’”

As much as Ozzimo waded in and out of trouble through the first four innings, his final two innings of work were textbook, facing the minimum with two strikeouts.

The Bulldogs, who could not build a rally against Dynasty starter Thomas Rodney (four runs, three earned, three hits, eight walks, three strikeouts) for three innings, surprised even themselves with the offensive explosion to come.

Leading 4-3 in the top of the sixth, the first 11 Bulldogs reached safely and the first 10 scored. They eventually sent 15 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs on eight hits, six walks and one error.

“We had better at bats the second time through the lineup,” Mirasola said. “Before we were looking at a couple 0-2 pitches, not protecting with the two-strike approach, and they did a better job attacking that first-pitch fastball instead of letting it go. Once the bats started to get going, they started to get the run total up there.”

Pannell drove in the first run of the inning, and the last. Gaudasino, Chris Mirasola (the coach’s son) and Colin Snell contributed RBI singles. Nicholas Konsynski, James Cowan and John Zayas forced in runs with bases-loaded walks.

“We had a lot of energy at the end of the game. That was a lot of fun,” Gaudasino said. “Innings like that get us excited. It makes everybody want to get a hit, get on base and score more runs.”

Christian Hurst contributed to the Bulldogs’ two-run second-inning rally with an RBI single.

Coach Mirasola said he was not surprised to see Gaudasino in the middle of not just the sixth-inning outburst, but every run-scoring rally. He singled home a run in the first, drove in two runs in the third, and chalked up one more RBI in the sixth.

“He’s just a really good contact hitter,” coach Mirasola said. “He does a real good job of finding the ball, and when he starts to use the lower half of his body the ball’s really gonna go. He’s just using his arms right now.”

Gaudasino, who slugged 20 home runs last spring and summer on 40-60 fields, said his approach at the plate never changed even though he’s now hitting on 90-foot diamonds.

“We’re not swinging for home runs, we’re swinging for base hits,” Gaudasino said. “I’m thinking about just getting on base. Last year I was looking for doubles, so nothing’s changed. I’m still going for those base hits and doubles.”

Gaudasino sparked the Dynasty offense in the top of the first with an RBI single, and Brian Dougherty’s bases loaded walk gave the Staten Island team a 2-0 lead.

Guilderland bounced back to tie the game with two runs in the second. Christian Hurst had an RBI single and Rodney scored on an infield error.

Gaudasino sliced an opposite-field, two-run single into right to give Dynasty a 4-2 lead in the top of the third.

The Bulldogs were able to climb within one in the bottom of the frame when Matthew Lynch curled an RBI single down the left field line.

Dynasty (1-0) faces Baseball U Anthracite (10 a.m.) and Taconic Rangers South (2:15 p.m.) on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Guilderland (0-1) takes on Taconic Rangers South at 10 a.m. and Baseball U Anthracite at 2:15 p.m.

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