By Steve Merrill
The Diamond Jacks 15U Gold rallied from a 4-0 deficit against the Locked In Baseball Expos 15u Blue to forge a 4-4 in a Father’s Day Classic pool play opener on Friday evening.
The Expos got on the board just four batters into the game when cleanup hitter Philip Barber socked a single to bring leadoff man Sam Berk home. The DJacks were then able to turn a 5-4-3 double play to keep it 1-0 before coming to bat.
Locked In Baseball tacked on three runs in the third after DJacks starter Matt Kurek walked back-to-back hitters before surrendering consecutive RBI singles to Michael Andrisano and Ryan Barber. Two flyouts to center field capped off the three-run frame to give the Expos a 4-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the third.
Kurek lasted three innings, giving up six hits and four runs, while striking out and walking two.
“He got himself into a couple of jams, especially in the first inning where we got out of it only allowing one run,” DJacks head coach Chris Brown said. “Good job by him to limit the damage and not put up a crooked number. It kept us in the game.”
Expos starter Nick Rotundo cruised through the first two innings before being faced with trouble for the first time in the bottom of the third. Rotundo struck out the first two batters before Nolan Fuller reached on an error and Will Macken walked. Fuller then advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a passed ball to make it 4-1. Rotundo proceeded to strike Chase Koplitz out looking to end the inning.
The D-Jacks made noise in the bottom of the fifth inning. Rotundo allowed four straight singles to start the inning before recording an out. Luke Haan, Mike Brunetti, and C.J. Banos loaded the bases for Fuller who ripped a single to drive in two and make it a 4-3 game. Banos was thrown out by the left fielder Andrisano trying to go first-to-third on the hit for the first out, but Fuller was able to advance to second base. Macken struck out next and Fuller reached third on a passed ball.
A two-out walk to leadoff hitter Soren Gregor was the end of the line for Rotundo. The southpaw lasted 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out seven. In came Jack Ilaria, who got Liam Coyle to ground out to third to end the inning with two runners left on base.
In the bottom of the sixth, the DJacks got even. Koplitz led off with a double to left-center field. After a Jesse Allen flyout, Anthony Petino laced a single to plate Koplitz and tie the game at 4-4. Petino advanced to second on the throw home and gave the DJacks a chance to take the lead, but Ilaria got a flyout and groundout to escape the inning.
“Hats off to us for fighting back,” Brown said. “Second and third time through the lineup we started getting good swings on the breaking ball. And hats off to the bottom of the lineup for producing three runs in the game.”
Despite each team getting a runner on in the seventh, neither was able to capitalize as the time limit hit. Luc Bush led off the Expos seventh with a double. DJacks reliever Justin Silvius struck out Lucas Durkin and got Dominic Correale to foul out. Bush stole third base with two outs, but the inning ended with a Nico DeLuca flyout.
The DJacks went on to win their next game on day one, 11-1, over the Out Of The Park Cyclones Prospects. The Expos tied their second game with the North Jersey Cardinals Red, 6-6.