Cirulli homers, pitches Eat Dirt Baseball to 4-0 start

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 30, 2022

Eat Dirt Baseball’s Jacksen Damon slides safely into third base in Memorial Day Blast. 

By Sean Reilly

His name is Curran Cirulli, but he’s known to family, friends and teammates by his nickname, “Cricket.” 

“It’s been a nickname ever since birth,” he explained. “When I was a little baby, I’d squeeze my legs and it made a cricket noise.” 

Cirulli made a different kind of noise on Sunday afternoon at Diamond Nation, where his arm and bat propelled Eat Dirt Baseball from Reading, Pa., to a 12-2 victory over the North Rockland Bulldogs in the 11U Memorial Day Blast in Flemington. 

The win completed a 4-0 trip through pool play and earned Eat Dirt Baseball a spot in Monday’s playoffs. 

Cirulli allowed only one run after North Rockland (3-1) loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second inning. 

Then, in the bottom of that inning, he hit a two-run home run to give Eat Dirt Baseball a 2-1 lead. His team added five more runs in the frame to take control for good. 

“This was the game to go to Monday,” said Cirulli, who also delivered the RBI single that ended the game in the bottom of the fourth. “Getting out of the inning turned the tide for the game.The home run was my first one of the season, so I was happy about that.” 

The key play in getting out of the second inning came after Axel Jimenez of North Rockland singled to center with the bases loaded and one out. Gavin Martinez scored, but the middle runner was thrown out at the plate on a throw from center fielder Carter Burr to catcher Jake Fink. The next batter was retired on a pitcher-to-first ground out.

North Rockland Bulldogs first baseman Luke Denman reaches to collect throw against Eat Dirt Baseball 11U.

“It was very important to get out of that inning,” Eat Dirt Baseball coach Chad Denunzio said. “We’re very fundamentally sound.”

After Cirulli’s home run put Eat Dirt Baseball in front in the second, a single by Jacksen Damon and walks to Bode Hinnershitz and Nick Kozik loaded the bases. Parker Denunzio then drew an RBI walk. After a strikeout, Cooper Schmehl hit a two-run double. He took third on a throw, and an error after that allowed him to score for a 7-1 advantage.

Eat Dirt extended its lead to 8-1 in the third when Logan Pettit scored on a wild pitch. In the top of the fourth, North Rockland got that run back when Xavier Cespedes singled, stole two bases and scored on an error. 

The game ended after Eat Dirt scored four times in its half of the fourth. Sammy Dianna walked with the bases loaded, Pettit was safe on a fielder’s choice that scored two runs and Cirulli followed with the hit which ended the game. It was the second time during the weekend that one of Cirulli’s hits ended a game via the 10-run rule. 

“It’s been a good weekend so far,” Cirulli said. “We’re 4-0, we run-ruled two teams and we’re headed to Monday.”

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