Cimino’s solid effort leads Lawrence Thunder in 15U World Series

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 6, 2023

Cadets third baseman Troy Mittenzwei steps on third to complete unassisted double play.

By Sean Reilly 

A.J. Cimino had pitched a couple of times already this summer for the Lawrence Thunder 15U, but a game on Wednesday afternoon against the Jersey Cadets represented his first mound start of the season. 

While Cimino’s goal of getting outs was the same, his strategy and mindset was much different for the matchup at the Diamond Nation Super 15 World Series. 

“I hadn’t started a game yet this year,” he said. “In relief, I’m trying to throw as hard as I possibly can. Starting, I’m really trying to pound the zone more and I am thinking about longevity.” 

Cimino’s approach worked very well, as the right-hander pitched a seven-inning four-hitter, with three strikeouts and two walks, in a 4-1 victory over the Jersey Cadets in Flemington. 

Lawrence won the game even though it finished with just one hit, an RBI single by Max Kleinz in the first inning. The Thunder did benefit greatly from 11 walks, including six that came on full counts. 

That first inning for the Thunder began with a walk to Danny Krier, who stole second and advanced to third when Drew Dobkin grounded out to first base. Connor Willever then walked and stole second. 

Aiden Crowley hit a sacrifice fly to score Krier with the first run. Kleinz, who won a Diamond Nation 15U championship over Memorial Day weekend playing for the Central Jersey All-Stars, then supplied his hit, a single to center field, for a 2-0 lead. 

Even though it was a very hot afternoon, Cimino actually had to labor his hardest in the bottom of the first inning.

Danny Krier scores first-inning run for Lawrence Thunder on sacrifice fly hit by Aiden Crowley. 

Cimino struck out the first batter, but a walk to Wyatt Lewis and a single by Luke DeBellas put runners on first and second for the Cadets, whose roster is a mixture of players from Monmouth County and Staten Island. 

A ground out moved the runners over to second and third, and Colin O’Donnell then lined a first-pitch single into left field to get the Cadets within 2-1. A fly out to center field with runners on first and third ended the inning. 

Lawrence got that run back in the second. The first three batters – Matt Smith, Cimino and David Holland – walked on full counts. Seneca Sumners then walked on a 3-1 pitch to score Smith. 

The Cadets escaped the inning without further damage, since the next Thunder batter lined out to third baseman Troy Mittenzwei, who stepped on third for an unassisted double play. The next batter struck out. 

The Thunder scored their final run in the third inning. Dobkin walked on a full count with one out, stole second, and crossed to third when Willever grounded out to first on a full count. Dobkin scored on a wild pitch during Crowley’s at-bat that also ended in a full count walk. 

Cimino, meanwhile, had settled into a grove. He allowed only one hit and one walk after Logan Ambery led off the second inning with a single, with no remaining Cadets runner advancing past second base. He retired nine of the last 10 batters, with the one reaching on a Thunder only error. 

“I was throwing strikes and letting my defense do all the work,” Cimino said. “I threw thre\e pitches – slider, two-seam and four-seam – that got the job done.” 

Getting past the first inning was also a big boost. 

“I was a little nervous, having not started a game yet,” Cimino  said. “I got out of it. The defense made some good plays to help me out.” 

The win improved the Lawrence Thunder to 1-0-1 in the tournament, with a Thursday morning doubleheader against Rip City and the Diamond Jacks Super 15U remaining. 

The Jersey Cadets (0-2) finish up on Thursday morning against Triple Crown Baseball and .9ers Baseball Club.

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