Byrnes’ arm, Lods HR deliver Titans 14U Firecracker crown

By Bob Behre | July 5, 2022

Righthander Evan Byrnes stifled MA Show over 6.1 innings and Charlie Lods hit a solo home run that gained in prominence an inning later as the Long Island Body Armor Titans 14U edged MA Show 14U National, 3-2, in the 14U Independence Weekend Firecracker championship game.

Byrnes permitted two runs, one of which was earned, on three hits, struck out 10 and walked two in a tidy performance that nearly went to waste in his last inning of work.

MA Show’s Petyon O’Brien countered with a very untidy but effective one-hitter that still had his team trailing 3-0 entering its final at bat. When Lods led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a long home run to left field, it broke up O’Brien’s no-hit bid and put MA Show into a deeper hole. The Titans had scored single runs in the third and fifth innings aided by errors and walks.

“Credit to their pitcher. He battled impressively,” said Titans coach Travis Quattrini. “But Charlie got him in a fastball count and made the most of it.” Lods jumped on a chest-high heater and crushed it over the fence in left.

The righty O’Brien’s final line was a busy one. He permitted three runs, one earned, on one hit, struck out nine, walked nine and hit a batter. After all that, MA Show nearly pulled itself out of the depths in the seventh.

Evan Miller, MA Show’s No. 10 hitter, led off the seventh with a hard opposite field single to right field, just the second hit off Byrnes, who had retired 14 straight batters entering the inning. Grant Fournia followed and hit a bouncer to the left side. But the throw to second was high and pulled second baseman Ryan Maida off the bag and both runners were safe.

That flipped the lineup to the top but Byrnes was able to induce Logan Taylor to fly out to left field for the first out. Dillon Walls, however, dropped a flair just inside the right field line past a diving Ethan Ramirez. The ball rolled all the way to the corner as pinch runner Jason Cullen and Fournia scored and Walls cruised into third base standing up.

Titans coach Travis Quattrini came and got Byrnes and replaced him with Ramirez, who would walk a very thin tight rope in earning the save and keeping the tying run 90 feet away.

First the lefty Ramirez walked Gage Petrutz and Nick Scheer, around an infield pop up, to load the bases with two outs. Owen Rozzi got the barrel on one but he hit it right at left fielder Vaughn Steinert, who put it away for the final out.

Evan Byrnes of the L.I. Body Armor Titans was name MVP of the 14U Firecracker.

Byrnes was presented with the Most Valuable Player award for his outstanding performance on the mound.

“Evan battled all seven innings and did a good job getting ahead in counts,” said Quattrini. “And he used his off-speed stuff to get weak contact.”

Byrnes surrendered an infield hit in the first inning and issued a pair of walks in the second, but, with a strikeout of Marco Christopher for the second out of the second, began his run of 14 straight outs. Nine of those outs were strikeouts, including the side in order in the fifth inning.

“When I started getting outs there my confidence was through the roof,” said Byrnes, a rising sophomore at West Islip (NY) Senior High. “I really wasn’t using my curveball my last two starts, but I kind of found it today.” He got two batters looking and one swinging at the hook. “I threw five or six changeups, too. Mostly to lefties.”

Byrnes seems to like Diamond Nation’s Field 1. “I threw a one-hitter on the same field in the same tournament last year,” he said.

Maida scored both early runs for the Titans. He reached on a hit-by-pitch with one out in the third and raced to third base on an errant pickoff attempt. He then scored on a wild pitch. He drew a one-out walk in the fifth and eventually scored on an infield error.

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