Deck Dogs pitcher Gareth Meyer fields ground ball during victory over Staten Island Orioles.
By Sean Reilly
The Deck Dogs 11U have most certainly had a solid start to the spring season, but the team from Pennsylvania has yet to claim a tournament championship.
Winning tournament trophies obviously aren’t the most important thing at their age level, but the Deck Dogs are nevertheless appearing at Diamond Nation this weekend for the first time in 2023 at the 11U Spring Classic Powered By Victus with hopes of returning home with a little more than just pleasant memories of their trip to Flemington.
“We’ve come in second a few times this season,” noted Deck Dogs player Gareth Meyer. “We’re trying to win the championship, definitely.”
The objective got off to a great start on Saturday afternoon, when a solid team effort including starting pitcher Meyer resulted in a 12-2, four-inning triumph over the Staten Island Orioles.
The game was close until the Deck Dogs scored nine times in the bottom of the fourth, capped by a two-run single from Eddie Shinal with two out for the 10-run margin which ended the game.
Meyer pitched the first two innings and singled and walked at the plate. Dom Gilroy threw the last two innings and reached twice via walks.
Shinal helped spark the offense by finishing 2 for 2 with a walk, along with two runs and three RBI.
“We hit the ball pretty well,” Meyer said. “We maybe should have gotten our bats started a little earlier, but we got it going.”
On the mound, he worked well with catcher Chris Dicrecchio before Gilroy took over in the third inning.
“My fastball was working, and Chris, my catcher, was telling me whether to throw it outside, inside or straightaway, and that was helping me strike out different batters. And then Dom Gilroy came in and pitched his butt off.”
Meyer showed both his toughness and connection with his catcher in the top of the first.
After the Orioles leadoff man popped out to Direcchio, a single by Justin Adone and two bases on balls loaded the bases. Meyer then induced an infield fly to shortstop that was followed by the first of his three strikeouts to strand the three runners.
In the bottom of the inning, the Deck Dogs showed off their aggressiveness when Jack Roberts led off with a walk, stole two bases and scored when Zach Taylor grounded out to shortstop.
The Orioles scored two runs in the second to take a 2-1 lead.
Nick Chiarulli led off with an infield single to shortstop and Constantine Zervos singled to center. Each advanced on a stolen base while the next two batters struck out looking. Louis Fioriello then hit a slow bouncer between the plate and pitcher’s mound. He legged it out for a single that scored both runners.
The Deck Dogs came right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning for a 3-2 edge.
Shinal led off with a walk and Colin McDonnell hit a single to left field. An error on a pickoff attempt moved both into scoring position. Shinal scored on a wild pitch. Alex Gonzalez walked, and wound up on third after McDonnell was erased during a rundown between third and home. Ryan Sicoli then grounded out to third, with Gonzalez scoring the go-ahead run.
The Deck Dogs erupted in the fourth to secure the win.
Everett Miksit led off by beating out a ground ball to shortstop, as the throw took the first baseman just inches off the base. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before Shinal got his first hit of the inning, a RBI single to shallow left field.
McDonnell, who ended 2 for 2, drove in Shinal with a double to left field. He scored when the next batter Gonzalez hit a grounds rule double to center for a 6-2 score. Sicoli and Meyer walked to load the bases. Alex Royer then bounced a chopper over the head of the head of the pitcher and into center field for a two-run single. Roberts grounded out to shortstop to score Meyer, and a wild pitch brought in Royer for a 10-2 lead. After the second out, two walks and a hit batter re-loaded the bases for Shinal, who came through with his second run-scoring hit of the inning, the single to center which scored two and ended the game.
“This was a great start,” said Deck Dogs coach Frank Saviski. “I love to see the kids swinging the bat and being aggressive on the bases. It’s what I like to see. We made a few mistakes in the field that we need to clean up, but we’ll be alright. We’ve come in second a couple of times so far this year, and we’ve got to get over that hump, but overall it’s been good.”