By Luis Torres
Blayze Conte wasn’t pleased with how he was hitting at the plate on Wednesday.
The right-handed hitter acknowledged he was rolling over too much, grounding into easy outs because he was out in front of pitches. Conte, who just finished up his freshman year, made adjustments heading into Canes Tri-State’s two games on Thursday.
And just like his first name, Conte was on fire in the Canes’ second contest of the day.
Conte, the cleanup hitter, went 2-for-2 with a home run and six RBIs as Canes Tri-State defeated Powerarm Baseball 15U, 16-2, in less than three innings in Super 15 Invitational play at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
Canes Tri-State improved to 4-0 in Super 15 Invitational play, and has outscored their opponents 53-4 over that span, including 32-2 on Thursday alone.
Conte played a big role, especially against Powerarm Baseball, scoring three runs, with both of his knocks being extra-base hits.
“I came today ready to play,” Conte said. “That’s how I brought my mentality. I felt like I had a really good game today. Everybody else did really good and hopefully we get into the Super 25s (Showcase Series). I tried to make my adjustment and stay back and hit the ball into the gaps. Just trying to hit the baseball and have fun.”
The first baseman got his team on the board after Powerarm Baseball took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Blayze smacked a bases-clearing three-run double to put his team up 3-2. From there, it was all Canes Tri-State, which ended up sending 10 hitters to the plate in the opening frame, nine more in the second inning and eight in the bottom of the third before reaching the run-rule limit.
Conte put the exclamation mark on his day and in the contest when he ripped a three-run home run to the left-center field gap to extend the lead to 14-2. The home run hit the top of the fence and then hit the netting above it. Conte wasn’t sure it was gone when he touched first base.
“I thought it was more of a pop up,” he said. “I didn’t know I hit it square until the ball went into the (gap). It went out and my coach was like, ‘That’s gone.’”
The offensive outburst was nothing out of the ordinary for Canes Tri-State coach Joe Curreri.
Even when his team trailed early on, he had confidence his lineup would get them back into the contest. It’s a lineup that’s formidable, with players that have athletic builds, especially for those at the 15U level.
“To be honest, this is our first tournament where we’re playing with metal,” Curreri said. “It’s been a struggle. We were using wood the first three or four tournaments and we really weren’t hitting. So it’s nice to get metal in their hands now and they feel more comfortable and they are swinging the bats.”
Even with the offense scoring 16 runs in each of its two games on Thursday, Curreri still sees room for improvement, especially on the basepaths, which might be a scary proposition to opponents.
“I’m not going to give them an A+, I’m going to give them an A,” Curreri said. “We need to get a little faster. Offensively, we need to get a little faster. Over the winter, we’re going to hit speed and agility. You can’t get yourself to Olympic speed, but you can get yourself to serviceable speed.”