Bongiorni’s bat, explosive late innings boost WC Dragons at 11U Slugfest

By DN WRITING STAFF | September 17, 2023

West Chester Dragons catcher Brayden Nguyen is set to tag out Battle Ready Baseball runner.

By Sean Reilly 

Nick Bongiorni was seeking productive at-bats when his West Chester (Pa.) Dragons NL team faced Battle Ready Baseball at the 11U Slugfest tournament on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation. 

That made him no different than anyone else playing in the game. But what separated him from the rest was how he was successful in each of his four plate appearances, and it helped his team open play at the event with a 16-2 victory in Flemington.

Bongiorni, the No. 3 hitter in the lineup, went 3-for-3 with a walk in a contest where the score was 3-2 as late as the fourth inning. The Dragons then scored six times in the fifth inning before adding seven more runs in the sixth.

That momentum carried into the Dragons’ second game of the day, an 8-5 win over the Bucks County Generals 11U Black, which kept West Chester in contention to reach the Sunday afternoon final. 

The Dragons totaled 13 hits against Battle Ready Baseball, located near Albany, N.Y.

Evan Doust, Jack DeStafeno and Andrew Gannon all ended with two hits for the Dragons. Bongiorni was the only player to finish with three.

A productive out: Jack Rudderow of the Dragons is retired on grounder that scores Andrew Gannon.

“I felt like my mechanics were better today and that my swing was pretty smooth,” Bongiorni said. “I was trying to get the bat on the ball. When I’m up and I see a gap, I want to try to hit it there. Our whole team did well. They made the game close, but we never gave up.” 

The Dragons took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. The inning began with Owen Liu and Nate Boschulte each reaching on an error. A wild pitch advanced them to second and third. Max Koza followed with an RBI groundout and Nolan Shearer added an RBI single. 

Battle Ready Baseball closed to 2-1 in the bottom of the inning, with T.J. Forde drawing a leadoff walk and coming around to score on a base hit by Chase Marotta.

Gannon led off the third for the Dragons, and reached on an error. He scored on a groundout from Jack Rudderow. 

Battle Ready Baseball got within 3-2 in the fourth when Forde walked with two out, stole second and then stole third. An overthrow to third allowed him to score. 

The Dragons broke the game open in the fifth inning, a six-run frame that included an RBI walk from Rudderow, RBI groundout from Brayden Nguyen and two-run single courtesy of Doust.

The seven-run sixth included a bases-loaded walk to Shearer, an RBI single from DeStafeno, two-run double by Gannon, and a run-scoring hit from Doust.

Owen Liu of the West Chester Dragons advances to third ahead of a throw following a wild pitch.

Leadoff man Kenny Hartman ended 2-for-3 for Battle Ready Baseball (0-2), which completes play in the tournament on Sunday against Bucks County Generals 11U Black.

First place in Pool B will be decided by the Sunday morning result between the Dragons and NY Prospects Urrico (1-1), thought the Generals also have an outside chance to finish atop the pool play standings.

The Diamond Jacks 11U has already clinched first place in Pool A, and will await the winner in the 12:15 p.m. final.

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