Bottom of the order sends Zoned RedHawks Elite to victory

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 25, 2024

Michael Garcia follows through on an RBI double for Zoned RedHawks 11U Elite.

By Sean Reilly

Luca Milia isn’t exaggerating when he sums up his Zoned RedHawks 11U Elite squad.

“We’re a very offensive kind-of-team,” said Milia, who batted ninth in a 10-player lineup when the RedHawks opened the 11U Memorial Day Classic, Powered By Savo Schalk, against the Highlands Bulldogs on Friday afternoon at Diamond Nation. 

Milia went 3-for-3 and was hit by a pitch, scoring three runs and driving in three more, when the Bridgewater-based RedHawks gained a 20-4 victory in Flemington. 

Every player in the RedHawks lineup had at least one hit (they totaled 20 in all) and at least one run scored. The bottom three batters in the order — Harry Oldham (2-for-3, three runs, three RBI), Milia and Luke Pugliese (3-for-3, two runs, three RBI) led the charge. 

“When the person before you gets on, you want to get on,” Milia said. “When I’m up, I’m not trying to do too much. I’m trying to get on base.” 

The RedHawks are 10-6-1 this spring, which includes a 3-1, runner-up showing in the Mother’s Day Classic at Diamond Nation two weeks ago. They scored 42 runs in that tournament, and have averaged 10 runs per game overall this spring. 

The key player during the early innings on Friday was third batter Michael Garcia, who hit an RBI double in the first inning to score Dylan Bourbon and added another double in the third inning as the RedHawks established a 3-1 lead.

The RedHawks broke the game open with a five-run fourth inning. It began with singles by Michael Giafaglione and Kyle Parks, and both scored when Oldham singled to center field. Milia’s double to right field scored Oldham, and Pugliese’s double to center scored Milia. Liam Buksar added an RBI single to second base to deliver Pugliese for an 8-1 lead. 

The Highlands Bulldogs, from Bergen County, got three of those runs back in the bottom of the frame. Taylor Guzman hit a two-run double to left-center, and he stole third and scored on a throwing error.

The RedHawks then erupted for 12 runs in the top of the fifth. 

The inning included RBI singles from Pugliese and Garcia, a two-run double from Max Bussin, an RBI single courtesy of Nate Klacik, and RBI hits by Kyle Parks and Milia. 

Milia was also hit by a pitch with the bases loaded earlier in the inning. 

“I felt like my swing was on today, and I could see the ball well,” he said. “After the last tournament here, we felt we had to fix the little things to do better the next time. This was a good start to the tournament.” 

Each team will play four pool games over the holiday weekend. The RedHawks continue with games on Saturday afternoon against Shockers Baseball MOCO and Ridgefield Travel Baseball Black. 

Anthony Pembroke was 2-for-2 for the Highlands Bulldogs, who will seek to rebound on Saturday afternoon opposite GBG Northeast and Trumbull Travel Black.

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