Sports Yard 2 pitcher Ben Carroll delivers to Viking Baseball batter Dylan Haley.
By Sean Reilly
This weekend’s tournament at Diamond Nation may be named the Home Run Classic, but one game on Saturday was decided by a check-swing single.
Angel Cuencas, the leadoff man in the Sports Yard 2 lineup, came up to the plate against Viking Baseball with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied and a runner on second. He was also down two strikes in the count, having swung and missed at the two prior pitches.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” he said. “That’s all we needed.”
The next offering almost had Cuencas fooled, but instead his check swing made contact with the ball, and it went behind the head of the second baseman and into right field to score Jake Thomas from second with the winning run as Sports Yard 2 beat Viking Baseball, 6-5, in a 15U pool play opener for both in Flemington.
“I was just looking for a fastball, and that’s what I got,” he said. “It doesn’t take a crazy moonshot. Something like that can win a game. I was chasing at first, and then I just said to myself to look for a strike, and I got it.”
Sports Yard 2, from Syracuse, N.Y., was in front throughout after it scored three times in the bottom of the first for a 3-1 lead.
Sports Yard 2 took a 5-3 advantage into the top of seventh, but Pennsylvania-based Viking Baseball scored twice to tie the score. The first run scored on an error off a throw to the plate on a bases-loaded grounder hit by Jimmy Armbruster. Liam Purdy was then hit by a pitch with the bases still full and one out. The next two batters were retired on infield pop ups to keep the score 5-5.
Sports Yard 2’s winning rally got started in the bottom of the seventh when Thomas singled to left after the first batter struck out. He advanced to second on a wild pitch before the next batter struck out.
That sent up Cuencas, who was 1-for-3 in his prior at-bats. He came through with the hit that scored Thomas and ended the game.
“We were ahead, and then it got close,” he said. “It felt great to get the hit.”
Viking Baseball scored a run in the top of the first on a RBI double to left field by Chase Neff on a full count.
Sports Yard 2 countered in the bottom of the inning with a run off an error, RBI triple from Ben Carroll and run-scoring ground out to shortstop from Drew Peters.
Sports Yard 2 extended the lead to 5-1 in third. The first two batters were retired before Derek Rice singled and came around to score on an error. Carroll followed an RBI base hit.
Viking Baseball scored twice in the fifth to get within two runs. Purdy hit a run-scoring double before scoring on a wild pitch.
Sports Yard 2’s second game resulted in a 9-4 loss to HV Select Kiko, while Viking Baseball bounced back with a 9-6 victory over JE Legends.