Joe Baratta legs out an infield single for the NY Prospects Urrico.
By Sean Reilly
John Cavallo thrives on pressure, and he demonstrated that on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation.
His NY Prospects Urrico team was trailing the Central Jersey Rebels by a run, with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the sixth inning of an 11U Grand Slam tournament contest.
As Cavallo walked toward the batters box, he did so flashing a big smile.
“I’m just playing baseball and having fun,” he explained. “And that was a fun situation.”
He followed by hitting a two-run, go-ahead single to right field that sent his Staten Island team to an 11-9 victory in Flemington.
Cavallo’s expression prior to the at-bat was followed by an excited leap into the air at first base after his hit scored Christian Rivera and Andrew Trinidad for a 9-8 lead.
Rivera had delivered an RBI single earlier in the inning to get the NY Prospects within a run in the contest that was full of lead changes and other twists and turns. Cavallo advanced to second on a wild pitch, and he scored along with Rosario when Angelo Urrico singled for an 11-8 advantage.
Cavallo ended the game 2-for-2. He was also hit twice by pitches, and scored four runs.
“In that last at-bat, I just wanted to get a hit,” he said. “Batting leadoff, I just want to get on and let the offense bring me home.”
He thrives on the pressure associated with the role, and in taking part in wild games like the win over the Rebels, which moved his team to 2-0 on the day and placed it in position to finish first in its pool.
“There was a lot of back-and-forth,” Cavallo said. “I’d rather be ahead, but I like playing in nerve-racking games.”
The Rebels scored once in the bottom of the sixth and had the tying run at the plate with two out, but winning pitcher Adam Syed got a called third strike to end the game.
Andrew Trinidad scores go-ahead run in top of the sixth on hit by NY Prospects teammate John Cavallo, who reacts happily at first base.
“I was nervous,” said Syed, who entered with two out in the second inning and his team trailing, 4-2. “I was throwing fastballs and curveballs, and it felt really good to win.”
The NY Prospects got an RBI single from Alex Torres in the third to get within a run, and added three more runs in the fifth to take a 6-4 lead. That inning featured a two-run single by Torres (2-for-4, three RBI), who also scored the other run on an error.
The Rebels clawed back with a four-run bottom of the fifth to take an 8-6 lead. The first run scored on a wild pitch, before Sal Guglielmelli delivered a clutch two-run single with two out for a one-run lead. He then scored on a hit by Blake Matney.
Down two runs entering the final inning didn’t faze the NY Prospects.
Joe Baratta led off with a walk and stole second before scoring on Rivera’s full-count single to right field. Trinidad (2-for-3, one RBI) then hit a hard single to right field that sent Rivera to third. Trinidad advanced on a wild pitch before Rosario walked to load the bases. An infield fly resulted in the first out, leading into Cavallo’s game-turning at-bat.
The Rebels got a sacrifice fly from Gio Coecliff in the bottom of the sixth and had a runner on second before Syed ended the game with his sixth strikeout.
The NY Prospects headed into Sunday as the only 2-0 team in their pool. A victory in their final matchup, an 8 a.m. clash against the Diamond Jacks 11U (1-1) would clinch a first-place finish and berth in the 2:15 final. But the Diamond Jacks knocked off the Prospects, 11-1.
The Central Jersey Rebels, who got two hits apiece from Guglielmelli and Justin Mileski, dropped an 8-7 decision to Dream Chasers Academy (0-2) in their final pool game on Sunday morning.