Thomas Formica scores and calls himself safe for the TKR Reds 15U.
By Joe Hofmann
Some 14U year old baseball players grab a bat, step up to the plate and start hacking.
Who’s pitching? Doesn’t matter.
What’s he throwing? Doesn’t matter.
No plan. See the ball. Hit the ball.
Thinking about the at bat? Nah, thinking is for school!
But if you’re pitching to Long Island Titans third baseman Mike Amato, be warned: He is watching you.
Amato used his private scouting report to his advantage and the Titans were winners on Friday afternoon because of it.
He smacked a two-run double up the left field line that got his team untracked on the way to a 6-3 victory over the TKR Reds in the 14U Boys of Summer Tournament at Diamond Nation.
“That was a big hit,” winning coach Vic Crema said. “He is a good kid who plays the game the right way.”
Amato thinks the game the right away. He sure did against TKR.
In his first at bat against TKR’s Anthony Scaglione, Amato was jammed and popped out to center.
But the thinking began.
During his second at bat in the third inning, Amato came up with a plan: Sit dead red on the fastball.
Good idea: Amato’s double up the left field line drove in Anthony Kotarski (walk) and Nick Nuzzi (single) that cut the Titans deficit to 3-2. Teammate Carter Henvy drilled a triple to right center and scored on an overthrow, giving the Titans the lead for good.
“The first half of the game, (Scaglione) didn’t throw a curve for a strike, so I just sat fastball,” Amato said.
He was right on in his thinking – and on the next fastball he saw.
“I looked for the fastball and got it,” he said. “I said, ‘Let’s go!’ My plan worked.”
Sometimes, Amato admits to overthinking. Having a plan is good, but many times thinking too much results in a poor at bat.
Marco Cristino of the TKR Reds gets ready to rip against the Long Island Titans.
At times, you just have to let it fly. The swing is the thing.
“Sometimes, I overthink and then I strike out,” he said. “(But) You always have to think in baseball.”
Amato drew a one-out walk in the fifth, stole second, and scored on Roman Dixon’s base hit up the middle. Ryan Dalton followed with an RBI triple to right.
“Roman Dixon’s hit was huge because it gave us some breathing room,” Crema said.
The game didn’t exactly start out well for the Titans. Dalton, the starting pitcher, walked the first two batters. Crema went out and removed him in favor of reliever Nick Bivetto.
TKR’s first four batters wound up drawing walks and two of them – Todd Viera and Thomas Formica – scored runs.
But one was picked off of third and the other thrown out at home.
Bivetto wound up settling in and went 2⅓ innings before giving way to Dylan Girard, who went 2⅔ innings.
“I had to take Ryan out,” Crema said. “He didn’t have it. Nick came in and did a great job throwing strikes. We had a couple of errors and he walked a couple of batters but he kept us in the game. And then Dylan shut the door.”