By Will Harrigan
Hailing from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the Nova Premier Orange 13U squad may have had a little bit of rust traveling quite a distance to play in this weekend’s King of the Diamond Tournament.
By the time their second game came around on Saturday morning, the rust had certainly worn off.
Getting off to a fast start and riding the pitching of Beau Daniel, Nova Premier (1-1) cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Powerballers Baseball (0-2). The win served as a good bounce back for the Dulles, Virginia-based travel squad, which had a difficult go of it in its first game of the morning.
Daniel was terrific on the mound, pitching five innings of shutout, one-hit ball. He struck out seven Powerballers batters along the way while only surrendering a walk and a hit batsman in his team’s second game in pool play.
“Beau is our main guy on the mound, and he’s at his best when he’s throwing strikes. He was getting ahead of counts all day today and that’s what we want out of him,” said Nova Premier coach Brendan Burke.”
Nova Premier wasted little time giving Daniel run support. Luke Olszewski reached base on a fielding error, and quickly made his way to third after a stolen base and a wayward Powerballers pitch.
There, Daniel would single home Olszewski to put the visitors ahead 1-0. Daniel would score two batters later after another wild pitch made its way to the backstop, doubling the lead to 2-0. The do-everything pitcher had Nova Premier’s only multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 on the day.
“Our goal was just to get guys on base because anything can happen out there. It’s early in the season, a lot of teams are playing their first tournaments – including us – so the plan we have was to test the defense of our opponents,” said Burke.
Daniel’s second inning was his finest, as he struck out the middle of the Powerballers lineup in succession.
Olszewski reached on another error to open the third, and promptly stole a pair of bases to park himself 90 feet from home. Following a Daniel walk and a strikeout, Nova catcher Ryan Salins laced a single to center field to plate a pair of runs and extend the lead to 4-0.
Several batters later, the winners would add another run when shortstop Bryson Abbott – who had reached on an infield single – scored on a wild pitch.
Nova center fielder Taylor Felix – 0-for-2 when he came up to bat in the sixth – drove in his team’s final run when he plated Salins, who reached base on a Powerballers fielding mishap.
The Powerballers had a few opportunities to plate a run off Daniel and its top chance came in the fourth. Leadoff man Ryan Lichtenberger got aboard on Daniel’s only walk of the day, which was immediately followed by Edward Huang getting struck by a pitch to put two men on.
However, Daniel would recover to induce a flyout to center field and a double play ball to short, which Abbott and first baseman Kyle Furr perfectly executed to turn two.
The Powerballers – a travel ball outfit based out of Bethlehem, PA – were able to strike for both of its runs in the sixth.
Second baseman Joey Dente would reach base with a single, and quickly made his way to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Santiago Rodriguez – 2-for-3 with a triple off Daniel in the first – perfectly placed an infield single to put two men on.
Huang would walk, and the first run would come when Chase Beidermann drew a base on balls to score the game’s first run. With Madden Heiserman at the plate, another wild pitch would score Rodriguez, accounting for the other Powerballers run.
Andrew Zirk would come on to pitch a scoreless seventh to seal the victory for Nova Premier.
Nova Premier faces RCBC Marucci 13U Nationals in its final pool play test at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday. Powerballers Baseball squares off with USA Prime Northeast 13U at the same time in its pool play finale.