CT Rangers make little things big in 13U playoff victory

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 19, 2022

CT Rangers’ Cole Brennan delivers a pitch to Syracuse Chiefs’ Kellen Pens.

By Joe Hofmann

It can be tedious, boring, and dreadfully dull.

And baseball players are not exactly interested.

Practice the little things? When does BP start, coach?

But ask the CT Rangers just how important emphasizing the small details in baseball really is.

All small-ball did was help the Danbury, Connecticut-based team to a 12-2 victory over the Syracuse Chiefs in the 13U Mid-Summer Classic White Pool semifinals Sunday.

Good teams hit and pitch, but great baseball teams execute the less exciting things necessary, too.

The Rangers put 12 runs up on the board but they did a lot more. They caught a runner stealing, pulled off a double steal that led to a run, tagged out a runner trying to score on a squeeze at the plate and flashed the leather.

“We do that stuff all of the time,” coach Kevin Gilroy said. “You never know when you’re going to need it, but it is always good to be prepared. It’s tedious stuff and they don’t always want to do it, but we always tell them that there might be a time for them to use it in a game.”

In the Syracuse second, Chace Sheppard walked but then was caught stealing by Rangers catcher Anthony DeBartolomeo. Later in the inning, DeBartolomeo picked up a bunt in front of the plate and lunged over to tag out Syracuse’s Lorenzo LaFace, who was trying to score.

More little things: In the third, the Rangers pulled off a perfectly-executed double steal. Velardo was on first and took off for second and Tyler DiElsi broke for home with the throw and arrived safely.

Defensively, first baseman Kieran Garrity made several sparkling plays.

He made a nice scoop on a groundout in the fourth and, in the fifth, made a diving stop at first base and then outraced the hitter to the bag — diving for the base just in time to beat the runner.

“He played great at first,” Gilroy said. “He is a high-energy kid and he controls the pulse of the team. He is incredible.”

Winning pitcher Cole Brennan went the route, scattering five hits and allowing a run in the first and another in the second. He fanned three and walked four and hit a batter.

“He pitched well,” Gilroy said. “He throws 70-75 miles per hour and he got the job done for us.”

Brennan lost control of the plate in the second when he walked the bases loaded and allowed a run but then took full advantage of a lot of offense on the Rangers’ part.

The Rangers scored five in the first and never looked back but kept adding on with three in the third, one in the fourth and three more in the seventh.

In the first, Jack Mariani reached on a force, Brennan got aboard on an infield hit and Garrity walked to load the bases. One out later, DiElsi, Sondro Velardo, and Myles Foster hit RBI singles before Brennan Doust singled in two.

In the third, Garrity singled and Jacob Pardalis walked before DiElsi singled and Velardo hit a two-run single. Foster walked, setting up the Rangers double steal of home.

In the fourth, Patrick Mangan reached on an infield hit and was knocked in by a Mariani double.

In the seventh, Brennan tripled in two and Garrity singled in Brennan.

Gilroy’s team needed help in order to reach this far.

“We took care of business and then we needed help from other teams,” Gilroy said. “We finished in a three-way tie to get into the playoffs and we got in because we gave up the fewest number of runs.”

But once they made the semifinals, they hit their stride at the plate by piling up 12 runs. In the previous three games in the tournament, they managed to score just 13 runs.

“This was our most complete game yet, with hitting and pitching and the defense,” Gilroy said.

The victory moved the Rangers into the 13U Mid-Summer Classic championship game opposite the NJ Rising Rebels 13U.

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