Thomas Costarelli singled, drove in a run, tripled and scored for the OC Titans.
By Rich Bevensee
It came as no surprise that the Super 16 Invitational Powered by Victus provided some outstanding pitching performances this weekend at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
But when one particular matchup morphed from a thrilling pitcher’s duel into a quirky, last-minute, run-scoring frenzy, it showed just how unpredictably enjoyable baseball can be.
Northeast Pride 26 National of Beach Lake, Pa., and the OC Titans of Long Island, N.Y., battled through six innings of a low-scoring affair, but six pitchers later, Jake Bondy was the last man standing when he recorded back-to-back strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh to preserve a 5-4 victory for Northeast Pride on Sunday afternoon at ‘The Nation.’
Northeast Pride won a 7-6 nailbiter against Diamond Jacks Gold 16U and was roughed up by All-Star Baseball Academy Futures White, 9-1, going into its third and final pool play game.
“The third game for sure was our best game of the weekend, where we came together on both sides,” Pride coach Sal Biasi said. “It’s our first tournament together so there’s some execution stuff we need to work on, but I think we have a pretty talented group. And now that we have these guys together I think we’ll be able to build a pretty good team here.”
Jake Snyder of Northeast Pride was awarded the team’s MVP belt for his overall performance for the weekend. Snyder singled and scored in his team’s pivotal seventh-inning, four-run rally against the Titans.
“We knew we were going to win,” Snyder said. “We don’t like to lose, especially these guys. The team has good morale. Everyone’s together. It’s going to be a fun summer.”
Nick Bohenek and Riley Clemons combined to allow just one run on two hits through five innings for Northeast Pride, and Bondy pitched a scoreless sixth.
“Our starter, Nick Behenek, is a surefire guy,” Biasi said. “Every time we throw him out there he fills it up and works the pitch count.”
Noah Kirwin and Ryan McMenamin permitted just one run on four hits through their combined six innings for the Titans.
Then came the top of the seventh inning with the score tied 1-1. Northeast’s Colten Zajdel walked and McMenamin was relieved by Anthony Manzi. Manzi hit the Pride’s Justin Freeman with a pitch and he surrendered a single to Beau Widdick to load the bases.
Manzi induced a fielder’s choice out at home, but one of his next pitches to Snyder got stuck in the backstop padding, allowing Freeman to walk home for the tie-breaking run.
Snyder followed with a dribbler down the first base line which was picked up without anyone covering first base. The throw to first sailed into right field, allowing Widdick and Rivers to score for a 4-1 Pride lead. Snyder eventually scored from third on a passed ball for a 5-1 lead to cap one of the quirkiest innings ever.
But that was not the end of the oddities. After Bondy got a strikeout to open the bottom of the seventh, the Titans’ Thomas Costarelli tripled to left center. After Anthony Savino walked, Costarelli snuck home while Savino dared the Pride to throw to second on a steal attempt.
The next Titans batter, Peter Giannone, hammered a ball into deep center which bounded over the center fielder’s head and to the wall. Giannone circled the bases for an inside-the-park, two-run homer, and the Titans had crept back to within 5-4.
Bondy, unshaken, got the second out on a strikeout looking, and got the next batter swinging to end the Titans’ comeback bid.
The game was not without its oddities leading up to the seventh.
In the top of the third, Koleton Davies was on third and Jack Maiale was on second when Jose Sosa sent a base hit into right field. The throw back to the infield was offline, and Titans catcher Brady Dimitrio wasted no time in throwing to shortstop Brady McGowan to get Maiale who drifted too far off second base. McGowan immediately rifled the ball back to Dimitrio to get Davies trying to score for an unusual double play.
The Pride exacted their own brand of defensive justice in the bottom of the fourth. Evan Byrnes, who led off by getting hit with Clemons’ very first pitch, was on third while McGowan was on second. Costarelli lofted a long fly to center to score Byrnes with the game’s first run. The Pride halted the Titans efforts there with a terrific relay – center fielder Snyder to second baseman Widdick to third baseman Dominic Marino to nail McGowan trying to advance.
The Pride scored an unearned run in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 1-1. Riley Clemons reached on an infield fielding error, Marino walked and Bondy was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Chris Peters followed with a walk to force home Clemons.