Chester County Revolution 17U knows its baseball ABCs

By DN WRITING STAFF | September 10, 2023

Chester County’s Cenzo Sammaritano evades Coney Island second baseman Jerrame Marizan (left) and third baseman Julian Poleon in the fifth inning.

By Rich Bevensee

The Chester County Revolution 18U baseball team can thank a hard-throwing scholar and former middle school quarterback for salvaging a narrow victory in its first appearance of the fall.

Righty pitcher Luca Urdaneta, who struck out 13 batters while navigating through scoring threats in every inning, said that reading “The Mental ABC’s of Pitching,” by H.A. Dorfman helped him build his competitive resolve. 

Cenzo Sammaritano said that surviving a late-game rundown between second and third –  he eventually scored an insurance run which became the winning run – brought back memories of evading tacklers in middle school football. 

Urdaneta and Sammaritano, senior teammates at Unionville High in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, were the key figures in the Revolution’s 4-3 victory over the Coney Island Blue Angels in the 17/18U Wood Bat Championship Powered by Victus on Saturday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

When Sammaritano, a courtesy runner for Urdaneta in the bottom of the fifth, evaded being tagged out and later scored on a Scott Philson groundout, it gave the Revolution a 4-2 lead. That run became magnified because the Blue Angels’ Christian Ogando cranked an RBI triple in the sixth, bringing his team back to within a run.

“That was the difference,” Revolution coach Chris Valis said of Sammaritano’s base running. “We pride ourselves on baserunning and being aggressive and putting pressure on the other team, and it works. At this level if you can generate baserunners good things will happen.”

Sammaritano, running for Urbaneta who reached on a walk, stole second but quickly got picked off by Blue Angels reliever Yaniel Torres. Sammaritano somehow evaded Blue Angels second baseman Jerrame Marizan and third baseman Julian Poleon and dove into third safely.

“I played a little bit of quarterback in middle school,” said the 5-10, 180-pound Sammaritano. “I was thinking, I saw him go that way so I have to go this way, and then once I got by him I saw daylight, and I took off for third. 

“The inning before I dropped a third strike that would have ended the inning, so the next inning I thought I really have to pick my teammates up here.”

Urbaneta made that run stand up, but first he had to slip past the Blue Angels, who were intent on making a comeback after getting shut out for four innings. 

With the Revolution leading 3-0, Kymani Scott got the Blue Angels on the board with an RBI groundout and David Marrero added a run-scoring single to bring the Angels within one. Sammaritano helped Urbaneta escape further damage by throwing out Marrero trying to steal second for the final out. 

Following Sammaritano’s base-running theatrics in the bottom of the fifth, the Blue Angels climbed to within one again thanks to Ogando’s two-out RBI triple to dead center. With Ogando representing the tying run 90 feet away, Urbaneta got his 13th strikeout to end the threat.

Yaniel Torres scores in the fifth inning to bring the Blue Angels within 3-2.

“When runners are on I’m just thinking, next pitch,” Urbaneta said. “I read this book called “The Mental ABCs Of Pitching,” by H.A. Dorfman. (Cy Young Award winner) Roy Halladay read it when he was a pro so my dad made me read it. It’s all about the mental game of baseball. It’s in alphabetical order and they use different words for different things and they connect it to the game of baseball. So things like, forget about whatever happened before and concentrate on what you can do to get the next out.”

Urbaneta may have the mental side figured out but he’s got some physical skills working in his favor as well. His fastball reached 83 miles per hour in the first inning, and he reached it again in the sixth. And most of his strikeouts came on half-swings due to very effective breaking pitches. 

The 6-3, 240-pound righty gave up three runs, one earned, on four hits and no walks. 

“Luka gets stronger as the game goes on – he’s a force,” Valis said. “Kid has worked his butt off and he’s determined, which I love. You talk about falling in love with the grind, and he has. He pounds the zone. We love the pace that he works with. He wants the ball back right away, he wants to go, and the defense loves that.”

The Revolution built its 3-0 lead early. Sammaritano got his team started with an RBI groundout in the first inning.

In the fourth, Cole Ruhland slapped a run-scoring single into right and later scored on an infield error.

Blue Angels starter Anthony Catalano gave up three runs on two hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in four innings. Torres pitched two frames in relief and allowed one run on no hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

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