By Will Harrigan
Crossbridge Raiders 18U coach Derrick Kraemer found himself in an unusual spot at the end of the Summer Finale tournament on Sunday evening.
No, not the winning it all part that the team enjoyed. That’s become old hat for the Central Jersey-based organization.
But when it came to choosing the MVP, Kraemer’s son Will – a standout ball player at the Hun School – made it impossible not to take the honor.
Kraemer’s tenth and final hit of a monster weekend at ‘The Nation’ turned into the winning run of a tight, nip-and-tuck ballgame, as the Raiders took a 2-1 decision over Syracuse Storm to win the 18U Summer Finale crown.
Until the final, the Raiders ran roughshod through the eight-team field, as they finished their four games with a 36-4 run differential despite the razor thin final. The Storm left ‘The Nation’ for Central New York with a fine 3-1 record in tow.
“I had to do a sanity check with my assistant coach, because I’m not the type that wants to just give the MVP to my own kid,” said the elder Kraemer. “But Will really was unstoppable this weekend, to his credit. Hitting .833 and scoring the winning run in the final is truly remarkable. I had to give it to him.”
Kraemer singled up the middle to get the winning rally started in the bottom half of the sixth inning in a 1-1 tie.
Josh Thompson would lay down a sacrifice bunt, but disaster would immediately strike the New Yorkers. The Storm pitcher fielded the bunt, but the throw wound up in right field, allowing Kraemer to score all the way from first.
Thompson reached second on the play.
“The biggest thing we preach is putting the bat on the ball, and that’s a perfect example why,” Kraemer said. “We were given a small opportunity to get a run, and we took it there.”
Chase Burrows – a hard throwing lefty – tossed his third scoreless inning in the seventh to close out the victory for the Raiders.
Way back in the bottom of the first, the Raiders also got their other run in unearned fashion.
Justin Prekop, who had singled with one out in the inning, reached second on a single by Mike Smith a batter later. However, on a throw-behind attempt on Smith a batter later after an out, the ball ended up in the outfield, allowing Prekop to score and give the winners a 1-0 lead.
The Storm would promptly equalize in the top of the second.
Luke Pickett – who had drawn a leadoff walk – came around to score when Matt Krull’s one-out double to left field brought him in and leveled the game up.
Just last week, the Raiders won the 16U Summer Finale. Eight of those players were “called up” to the 18U squad for this weekend.