CT Edge’s Mike Riordan battled through a seven-pitch at bat before his RBI single in the fifth.
By Rich Bevensee
So much to be proud of after pitching a four-hit shutout, yet Jesse Buonocore won’t be caught praising himself or patting his own back.
That task was left to CT Edge coach Rich Garces and Edge catcher Connor Lane after their ballclub rode Buonocore’s right arm to a 4-0 victory over Canes NJ/NY to open pool play in the Super 16 World Series on Tuesday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
Buonocore pitched a complete game shutout with three walks and five strikeouts over 103 pitches. Canes batters went 0 for 5 against him with runners in scoring position.
“My fastball was working pretty good today but my curveball was a little off. I wasn’t snapping down on it but the fastball helped me out a lot,” said Buonocore, a 6-foot, 175-pound rising junior at Notre Dame in West Haven, Conn. “I also threw a slider and change, but mostly fastball and curve. Honestly I’m just happy to be here playing on a nice day.”
“The last three games Jesse’s been awesome for us,” Garces said. “He’s been really effective and today was the same thing, you can see it right there. He’s really working hard. He gives it his all and he gives the team a chance to score some runs.”
Hoping to use Buonocore’s effort as a springboard, the Edge will continue pool play by taking on NJ Pride 16u on Wednesday at 10 a.m., Colossal Sports Academy on Thursday at 8:30 p.m., and Powerballers Spin on Friday at 2:15 p.m.
With Buonocore’s fastball hovering in the high 70s and topping out at 83, he and Lane maneuvered through the Canes lineup to keep the ball in play for their defense.
Buonocore picked off two Canes, one at second and one at first. In the fourth inning he induced a pair of line drive outs to second and first, respectively, to escape a second-and-third jam with one out. And left fielder Joe Booska battled gusty winds to flag down a pair of tricky fly balls in the top of the sixth inning.
“He did a good job holding runners on today and he had a couple pickoffs,” said Lane, a rising junior at Old Saybrook (Conn.). “The first few innings he had really good command of the offspeed pitches. Then you started to see they weren’t barreling his fastballs that much, so we stuck with the fastball and when we’d get to an offspeed count we would throw it and go back to the fastball, and then our defense made plays.”
Perhaps Buonocore wasn’t ready to pronounce his work a masterpiece because his performance wavered slightly from inning to inning.
The first and third innings were quiet enough, when he only faced four batters each time. But he did allow Canes batters to reach base in every inning except the last, and he had to put out fires in the fourth and sixth innings when the Canes had runners on second and third.
“One of the things I want him to learn is getting ahead of the hiters, minimizing a lot of throws and staying away from 3-2 counts, because in the fifth inning you’re going to be so tired,” Garces said. “That’s one of the things I’m trying to teach him. The less pitches you throw, the less tired your arm’s going to be.”
The CT Edge offense went to work in the bottom of the first inning when leadoff man Tony Sutera was hit by a pitch, Mike Buciaro singled, Booska grounded out to move the runners over, and Lane drove in Sutera with a ground out.
In the second the Edge benefitted from a two-run error, when Sutera lofted a fly ball to Canes center fielder Cairo Reyes who charged, slipped to a seated position and briefly caught the ball before it popped out of his glove. Sean Sorel (double) and Max Bernstein (walk) scored on the play for a 3-0 Edge lead.
Reyes made a good play in the fifth, hopping to snare a wind-blown line drive in center, but the next Edge batter, Vin Hine, smacked a single to right that skipped to the wall for a two-base error. Mike Riordan battled back from an 0-2 count to face five more pitches before singling up the middle to drive in Hine.
No. 10 batter Jayson Serrano went 2-for-2 for the Edge, which saw all 10 batters reach base and eight of 10 register a base hit.
Canes starter Angelo Dillon lasted four innings and allowed four runs (one earned) on eight hits, one walk and three hit batsmen with two strikeouts. Joe O’Toole pitched a scoreless inning of relief with three strikeouts.
Canes catcher Tyler Martin went 2-for-2 with a wind-blown double, and Ariel Miranda had two hits.
The Canes continue pool play Wednesday with a game against Powerballers Spin at 8 a.m. They face Time To Sign Prospects on Thursday at 8:30 p.m., and Full Count Baseball on Friday at 10 a.m.