Chiesa helps Marlton Chiefs 10U gain split at Father’s Day Classic

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 16, 2024

Readington-Tewksbury first baseman John Lyons makes nice stretch for a putout. 

By Sean Reilly

Most 10U players are learning the nuances of baseball on a game-by-game basis, but Blake Chiesa of the Marlton Chiefs 10U is ahead of the curve.

Chiesa has already developed strong baseball instincts, and that was on display Saturday at Diamond Nation, when his smarts at the plate and at shortstop helped his team register a 13-3 victory over the Readington-Tewksbury Raptors in the 10U Father’s Day Classic. 

His efforts helped Marlton split its first day at the tournament, after opening with a tough 5-4 setback against the South Plainfield Surge. 

Chiesa was 2-for-2 with a double and one RBI in the first game. The leadoff man then went 2-for-3 with an inside-the-park home run, with two runs and one RBI, against Readington-Tewksbury. 

What made him truly stand out was his play at shortstop. Three times Readington-Tewksbury had runners on second base, with the next batter hitting ground balls to Chiesa at shortstop (including back-to-back plays in the fifth inning).

In the first of those plays, he threw to the second baseman for an out after looking back at the runner. On the next grounder, he caught the runner far enough off the base where he threw to third for a tag out. 

In the fifth inning, another ball was grounded his way with a runner on second. This time, he looked like he was going to throw to first, only to turn and tag the runner himself. 

The five-inning game fittingly ended soon after with a line drive hit into his glove. 

Much of his instincts come from watching contests involving his older brothers, Ryan and Brett. Blake doesn’t just cheer them on, he pays attention to what happens while they play. 

“I watch them and I learn,” he said. “I know to look for things and to make plays.” 

Chiesa got his team off to a great start against the Raptors. He led off with a single to shortstop, stole second and took off for third after an errant throw. An overthrow from the outfield to third allowed him to score. 

With one out, Ryan Feller (3-for-3) hit a stand-up triple to center field, and he scored on a triple by Mason Hillman, who was out at the plate trying for a home run. Hillman also finished the game 3-for-3. 

The lead stretched to 3-0 in the second after Hunter Robinson led off with a single to right, advanced on a wild pitch and stolen base, and scored as Luke Vare grounded out to second with one out. 

Chiesa extended the lead to four runs with his solo home run to the gap in right-center with two out in the third. 

“That was good,” he said. 

Dylan Strauss started the bottom of the third for the Raptors with a single. He stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Michael Somma’s hard-hit sacrifice fly to right field. 

The Chiefs started the top of the fourth with singles by Fuller and Hillman. Joshua Hennis hit an RBI single to score Fuller, and Hunter Robinson singled to first to deliver Hillman for a 6-1 lead.

Mason Hillman slides safely into third for Marlton 10U. 

The Raptors scored twice in the bottom of the frame.

Aiden Hickman singled between the pitcher and second baseman to start the comeback bid. He stole second and scored on a double to right-center by Conner Edwards. Luke DaQuisto lined a single to first base that scored Edwards. 

The two smart plays by Chiesa at shortstop followed. 

“I just know to look for them running,” he said. “And if they don’t, I make a throw to first base.” 

Marlton put the game away by sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring seven times in the fifth.

After loading the bases with nobody out, Thomas Weiss reached on a fielder’s choice that scored a run and kept the bases full. 

Henry Rosetti singled in a run with one out, and Fuller singled in two runs and advanced on a throw. Hillman’s two run-triple to center scored two for a 12-3 lead, and he scored the final run on a sacrifice fly to center from Hennis. 

It was a great way to end the day for Marlton after the tough loss to South Plainfield, which scored the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the sixth. 

“It felt good,” Chiesa said of his team’s bounce-back win.

Robinson also ended 3-for-3 against the Raptors. His team totaled 14 hits.

Readington-Tewksbury was limited to five hits by the Marlton combination of Robinson, who worked the first three innings, and Rosetti, who threw the final two.

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