The runner is … safe. Ivano Romaniello of Deck Dogs 2024 beats throw on Kevin King’s grounder.
By Sean Reilly
Nicholas Fratangeli knows a moment that feels especially nice on the baseball field.
“Nothing’s better than just getting a line drive up the middle in my opinion,” the Deck Dogs 2024 first baseman said.
His problem this week at Diamond Nation was that while making good contact through his first two games at the Super 17 Invitational, he had nothing to show for those quality swings.
That changed in a very important situation on Thursday afternoon against the Crossbridge Raiders.
With his Pennsylvania-based team down a run and with the time clock expired with two out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Fratangeli lined a single to center field to score Zachary King. The run resulted in the game ending in a 4-4 tie at Field 7 in Flemington.
“I haven’t had the greatest week,” Fratangeli said. “That was my first hit. I’ve been hitting barrels all week, but they just haven’t been falling. I switched my bat to a 32. I had been using a 33, and I felt like that helped a lot. I had a lot more stronger ABs.”
In his first at-bat, he flew out to right field to help set up his team’s first run.
Ivano Romaniello led off that inning with a single to center field, and moved to second on a wild pitch. Fratangeli’s fly out was deep enough for Romaniello to tag and move over to third. Kevin King then hit a ground ball to shortstop, and Romaniello beat a throw to the plate for a 1-0 lead.
King moved to second on a two-out single by Zane Malarkey. He then scored after an errant throw following his delayed steal of third.
The Deck Dogs, who improved to 1-2 on the week, extended their lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Sam Dinitz led off with a single to left field and stole second. He scored when next batter Zachary King (2-for-3) singled to right field.
Crossbridge (2-1) got its first run in the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Dylan Carmignani hit a single to right field that scored Colin Chou. Deck Dogs reliever Josh Kalinowski got out of the inning by getting the next two batters on a strikeout and ground ball to third.
Crossbridge, with a mixture of players from Bucks County, Pa., and Central Jersey, hence the Crossbridge moniker, staged a two-out rally in the top of the sixth which resulted in a 4-3 lead.
Nate Jones initiated the comeback with a single to left-center. Chou and Brooks Saft then drew walks that loaded the bases for Deacon Bowne, who also walked to score Jones and get the Raiders within 3-2.
Josh Thompson (Immaculata), who had walked in his first two at-bats, hit a single to left field that scored Chou with the tying run. The go-ahead run also scored on the play when the ball was mishandled at the plate following a throw.
According to Thompson, he was reminded by his coach not to think too much during his at-bat. But he was anticipating a certain pitch, and he got it.
“I figured it was going to be a fastball and I pulled the trigger on it,” he said.
Each team has one more game remaining at the tournament.
The Crossbridge Raiders, who now have a 14-5 run differential through three contests, play the Morris County Cubs 17U on Friday.
The Deck Dogs will seek a victory on Friday against the Philly Bandits 17U.
According to Fratangeli, who was hit by a pitch in his other at-bat, the Thursday result shows that the team is rounding into form. This is the second tournament of the season for the Deck Dogs, but it’s first with a full, regular roster.
“We’re still a new team, too, so we’re all trying to come together,” the rising senior at Bonner Prendergast High School said. “We’re getting better every game. Some people I played with last year, but we have a lot of new guys.”