Ryan Lomas launched a two-run homer for the Deck Dogs in 11U Summer Finale pool play.
By Rich Bevensee
Fighting for their playoff lives, the Deck Dogs of South Philadelphia vowed to clean up their act after a few errors and walks proved costly in a one-run loss the day before.
To watch them rebound with a near-flawless effort the next day was impressive, considering the age group involved. Shaun Barry pitched a two-hitter, his defense did not commit an error, and Ryan Lomas launched his first home run in several months to highlight an eight-run first inning.
The Deck Dogs did not qualify for the championship game but may take solace in the fact that they are certainly capable of putting the pieces together. They emerged from their final pool play game on Sunday afternoon with a four-inning, 12-1 victory over the All-Sport Stingers White in the 11U Summer Finale at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“We all went home (last night) and I trusted my teammates to do the right thing – go home, get some rest, do some drills before you get here, and then come back ready to play,” Barry said. “I thought we bounced back pretty well today.”
The Deck Dogs, 2-1 in pool play, lost their first game of the weekend, 8-7, to the Jersey Shore Wildcats, a game in which the Dogs committed three errors and surrendered six walks, according to coach John Cowell. The Wildcats remained undefeated through pool play at 3-0 and faced 3-0 Rockland Elite in the championship game.
Had the Wildcats lost their final pool game, they would be 2-1 in pool play but would have had the tiebreaker edge over the Dogs because of the head-to-head result.
“Walks and errors. When you play in good tournaments against good teams, that’s the difference right there,” Cowell said. “Put it this way – I thought we played terribly yesterday and we lost by one. It was good to see them not spiral from that. This is a good group, fundamentally sound. When they play their game, they can beat anyone.”
The Deck Dogs’ first-inning, eight-run outburst was the difference in this contest. They sent 14 batters to the plate and collected three hits and eight walks against three Stingers pitchers.
And of course the big blow in that frame was Lomas’ no-doubt-about-it, two-run blast over the left field fence to give the Dogs a 3-0 lead.
“I try to be a line drive hitter. I try to work right-center and not try to hit home runs, because when I try I strike out,” Lomas said. “But this morning I was feeling it. I went to the cages near my home (Newtown Square, Pa.) and hit for a half hour. I knew it was coming.”
It was Lomas’ first home run since March, and the first time he actually got to enjoy a celebratory tour around the bases.
“On the first one I couldn’t trot because the guy fell over the fence and it popped out of his glove, but I didn’t know until I reached home plate,” Lomas said. “This time I enjoyed it. To watch it go over was insane.”
“He’s actually our ace pitcher, too. He likes being the guy who’s there in the moment,” Cowell said. “Kids this age get nervous in big situations, but he likes to be up there. He’s a gamer.”
On the mound for the Deck Dogs, Barry’s location was exceptional. He allowed one run on two hits and no walks with six strikeouts. He faced just four batters over the minimum.
“We were saving our big guns in case we made the playoffs, so Sean is one of our go-to guys,” Cowell said. “We can bring him in any situation.”
“I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches,” Barry said. “The amount of time I spend with them working on my tilt, glove hand, everything else, all credit goes to them. I spend an hour a day working on that and you could see today it paid off.”
Barry’s one hiccup was a hit batsman in the top of the second inning.
“When I hit that kid I was a little shaken up,” Barry said. “I don’t like to see that and it’s not like me. I was a little discouraged but my teammates picked me up and I moved on.”
In the bottom of the first, Luke Falker got the Deck Dogs rolling with an RBI sacrifice fly. Then came Lomas’ two-run homer. Barry and Cole DeFronzo walked with the bases loaded. Mike McCalla laced a two-run single through the middle and DeFronzo scored on a wild pitch for an 8-0 Deck Dogs lead.
The Stingers got a single run on the board in the top of the second when Logan Saganowski poked an RBI single to right.
The Deck Dogs added four more runs in the bottom of the second. Jayden Raffensberger chalked up an RBI single to left. John Gonzalez had an RBI single to center and Anthony Tray scored on an outfield error. DeFronzo picked up his second RBI with a single to right.
Barry was the beneficiary of a pair of web gems in keeping the Stingers’ bats quiet. Jake D’Ambrosio made a great running catch in right field for the final out of the third inning.
In the fourth, with Stingers runners on second and third and none out, McCalla, the Deck Dogs second baseman, fell to his knees to catch an Alex Lucas line drive and quickly flipped to second to double up the runner there. Barry then got a strikeout to end the game.
Brandon Testa, Alex Lucas, Zack Becker, Jack Cizin and Will Bradish handled the pitching for the Stingers.