The Ducks’ Anthony Esposito gets set to rip a 2-run double in the middle of a third inning rally.
Righthander Chris Ho found himself in quite a comfort zone especially with the Hard Core Ducks hitters hitting lasers all over Diamond Nation’s Field 3 on a steamy Thursday afternoon in Flemington, N.J.
Ho pitched a one-hitter, striking out eight and walking one and his teammates unleashed a nine-hit attack on the way to a 13-0 victory over Hustle Baseball in four innings.
Ho leaned on a mid-80s fastball to make quick work of Hustle Baseball as the Ducks concluded their four Super 17U World Series games at 2-2. Hard Core rebounded nicely from a 4-0 loss to the Diamond Jacks Super 17 team just an hour and a half earlier.
Ho surrendered a single to Max Malanga leading off the top of the first inning and was nearly flawless from there. Malanga was erased on strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play and only one more Hustle Baseball batter would reach base.
Ho issued a walk to A.J. Guiliana leading off the third, but, perhaps perturbed by the gift, the rising junior from Westfield High struck out the side in order from there.
“My fastball command was really good,” said Ho, “I didn’t really need my off speed stuff, but it was there when I went to it and got a few swings and misses.”
The Hard Core Ducks erupted for eight runs in the second inning and five more runs in the third to put Hustle Baseball (1-3) away. The top five batters in the Hard Core lineup accounted for seven of the team’s nine hits and nine RBI.
Anthony Matrone, the Ducks’ No. 2 hitter, drove in two runs with a double in the second inning and singled in the middle of the rally in the third. Vincent Panzariano, the No. 3 hitter, chipped in with an RBI single during each rally. Cleanup hitter Anthony Esposito’s RBI double capped the eight-run second and his RBI single in the third extended the lead to 12-0.
Tommy Guidice, the No. 5 hitter, was hit by a pitch and scored in the second and doubled home a run in the third. Leadoff hitter Justin Waack drew a walk, reached on a fielder’s choice and delivered a run in the third with a sac fly. He also stole a base in the second.
Every Ducks batter, in fact, contributed in some way. John Babaro, the No. 6 hitter, drew a walk and scored in the second inning. Ethan Rodriguez, the No. 7 hitter, worked a bases loaded walk to force in a run in the second. Chris Lotito and Brett Newcombe, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, each came to the plate twice and scored a pair of runs. Lotito knocked in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder in the second and singled in the third. Newcombe walked, stole a base and scored in the second and doubled and scored in the third.
The Ducks had five doubles in the game.
Ho said he was able to keep his arm fairly fresh with plenty of bullpen work during the pandemic and has gotten some innings in during tournaments in Pennsylvania, which opened a couple weeks earlier than New Jersey.
“It was more about working on command in the bullpen than worrying about velocity,” said Ho, who was clocked at 89 last weekend. Ho is committed to Division 1 University of Maryland Baltimore County.
With just a couple games remaining in the Super 17U World Series, the Diamond Jacks Super 17U team sits at the top of the standings with a 4-0 record and has outscored its tournament opponents 29-1. The only other 4-0 teams are Full Count 17U (4-0, 37-3) and Richmond County Baseball Club (4-0, 20-8). The Diamond Jacks Super 16U had a chance to join that group, even finished atop the standings. It was 3-0 and had outscored its opponents 29-0 with a 7:10 p.m. game remaining against the Staten Island Orioles. That Thursday night game is the final game of the tournament.
Diamond Nation will play host to the Youth World beginning on Friday as 10U, 11U, 12U and 13U teams besiege the facility this weekend for three days of baseball.