Evan Blanchard of Complete Performance Baseball Academy gets set to rip against the Cubs.
By Luis Torres
It seemed as if the only people that believed there was still a chance at a comeback were the players and coaches inside the Complete Performance Baseball Academy dugout.
Trailing by seven runs through an inning and a half, things looked bleak for the team. And yet, there was still belief, even when trailing by such a big margin.
Complete Performance Baseball Academy had to chip away, and it started with a spark from Evan Blanchard, who roped a bases-clearing RBI triple as part of a five-run bottom of the second inning. That provided an impetus and a window to a potential comeback.
Complete Performance Baseball Academy kept chipping away at the deficit, entering the bottom of the fifth inning trailing by one, eventually tying the game.
Then John Machtemes stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. He fell behind in the count, 1-2, after swinging at a ball out of the zone. He dug deep, shortening his swing to protect and working the count full.
And as the one hour and 50-minute time limit expired, Machtemes worked a walk-off RBI walk, completing the comeback as Complete Performance Baseball Academy defeated Morris County Cubs Navy 11-10 in five innings in 13U Diamond Nation World Series play on Friday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“I was just trying to get on. I wasn’t trying to do too much,” Machtemes said of his game-winning at-bat. “I tried to keep it simple.”
Machtemes, who started on the mound and ran into some bad luck in the first two innings, ended up being the hero at the end. He finished his day at the plate with two walks, two runs scored and the RBI.
Blanchard’s two-out triple in the bottom of the second inning swung the momentum of the game. He swung on a 2-0 count, ripping a ball to the left-center field gap, which split the outfielders. He hustled around the bases, trying to turn his triple into an inside-the-park home run, but was narrowly tagged out at the plate.
John Machtemes delivered a game-winning walk-off walk in CPBA’s big comeback victory.
Still, it provided a much-needed boost to his team. Blanchard ended his day 1-for-2 with four RBIs.
“We never gave up at-bats, which was great to see,” Complete Performance Baseball Academy coach Mike Pepe said. “Getting big two-out hits is just so huge, and that definitely gave us a lot of life. Honestly, down 8-1, we lost a lot of (energy). We were not very up.”
Aidan Riley came out of the bullpen and also provided a lift. Riley tossed two hitless innings, allowing just one runner to reach base via a walk. He needed just 24 pitches to record six outs.
He turned it over to his lineup, which scored four runs in the final two innings by being patient at the plate, working the count and drawing six walks over the final two frames, none bigger than Machtemes’, which ended the game.
“I just wanted us to stay in the game because I knew it was definitely winnable,” Machtemes said. “We were able to stay in the game and come back.”