CT Grind overcomes slow start to edge Pelicans in 14U pool play

By DN WRITING STAFF | April 14, 2024

Artie McCormick of CT Grind blasted an inside-the-park, three-run home run in the second inning.

By Rich Bevensee

In about the time it took Brett White to settle down and find the strike zone, his teammates began to swing the bats and give White some breathing room.

The end result was impressive, meaning that when the pitching and offense are in sync for 14U Connecticut Grind Carolina, they will be a tough team to beat.

White gave up just two hits and one walk after a shaky first inning, his teammates sprung for six runs in the second inning, and the Grind rolled to a 14-5 victory over Pelicans Baseball of Harrisburg, Pa., in 14U King Of The Diamond pool play on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Gavin Chakar went 3-for-3 with a pair of triples and four RBI to pace the Grind offense, while Artie McCormick had a three-run, inside-the-park home run and Gavin Halovitch ended the game with a walk-off, two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth.

Every batter in the 11-man Grind lineup reached base, nine scored, eight had a base hit, and seven knocked in a run.

“They’re a pretty good offensive team. They can really swing the bats,” said Grind coach Michael Moras. “After the first inning they settled down and started having some good at bats. They’re a strong bunch of kids, quality hitters.”

Moras knows what quality looks like. He was an All-American catcher at the University of New Haven before he was selected by the New York Mets in the 20th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball amateur draft. Moras would enjoy a five-year professional career.

Moras is the owner and operator of The Grind Baseball and Softball Training Facility in Orange, Conn.

The Grind is making its first tournament appearance of the season, and Chakar said it was satisfying to see all the winter work pay off with an explosive first game.

“I love playing here, and getting off to a good start is a great feeling – nothing better,” Chakar said. “In scrimmages back in Connecticut, it’s cold and windy and I was trying to get a feel back for my swing in the cages. This morning I was trying to stay up the middle with that approach and it translated to the game. All the work I put in translated to the game and it definitely showed today.”

White said he may have been a bit too excited to kick-start his season. In the top of the first inning he walked three and gave up an RBI double to Bryce Hamsher. One run scored on a wild pitch and yet another on a groundout and the Grind were in a 3-0 hole before their first at bat. 

“Brett was a little rough to start,” Moras said. “He wasn’t quite attacking the strike zone. He was up in the zone a little bit. He needed to get his body moving a little quicker and get the ball down to make them swing over the ball and get some ground balls. He settled in and gave us a chance to win.”

The Grind was held scoreless in the bottom of the first, and White said the change he made was more mental than technical before he stepped on the mound for the second inning.

The Pelicans’ Jackson Birch leads off first with Grind first baseman Jonathan Diccio holding the bag.

“I was in my head a little bit at the start of the game,” White said. “I was a little bit mad when I got back in the dugout and you can’t really be mad there because you gotta get back on the mound and do the same thing.

“I was too excited in the first inning. I just sat down and took time to think about what I was doing and got back on the mound and threw strikes. I settled down, locked in and I was in the game from there. It’s a good feeling that I was able to get back out there and give my team a chance to win.”

White threw five innings and allowed five runs on five hits and three walks and he struck out five. Ethan Eagle pitched a scoreless inning of relief and allowed one hit and one walk and struck out one. 

Some scratchy play from the Pelicans’ outfield led to the Grind’s six-run second inning. The Pelicans had two out when Chakar lofted a fly ball which fell between fielders for a hit and then rolled to the wall for a triple. Chakar scored when the Pelicans made an error on a fly ball from the next batter, Dylan Porto.

Ethan Russo laced an RBI single to right before McCormick sent a liner into the outfield which was misjudged and led to McCormick racing around the bases for a three-run homer and a 6-3 lead.

Jonathan Diccio ignited the Grind’s three-run third inning for a 9-3 lead when he singled home Drew Young. Chakar and Ryan Guth added RBI singles.

The Pelicans responded with two runs in the fifth inning, White’s final inning of work. Jackson Birch scored on an outfield error following a Noah Hoppes fly ball, and Hamsher knocked in another run with an infield single.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Grind padded their lead to 12-5 when Chakar doubled in two runs and Eagle added a two-run, grounds rule double.

And in the sixth, Halovatch, who had walked twice and grounded out to that point, launched a rocket over the right field fence for a game-ending two-run home run.

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *