Efficient Figueroa guides Cage Academy in 15U Halloween Mash

By DN WRITING STAFF | October 30, 2022

Jake Ricchiuti of Cage Academy scores as on deck batter Alipio Figueroa provides guidance 

By Sean Reilly 

His start on Friday night was going to be his last chance to throw this year, so Alipio Figueroa was determined to make the most of the opportunity. 

The right-hander succeeded, by scattering five hits over five innings as his Cage Academy Elite 15U team beat Powerballers Baseball, 11-2, at the Diamond Nation 15U Halloween Mash in Flemington. 

“This was my last start, so it was a good way to go out,” he said. “I wasn’t really trying to strike them out. Just put it in the zone and let my defense help me. I was trying to paint the outside corner and make them have to go the other way. I also put in some off speed and they were out in front of it.”

Cage Academy took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Jack Vallillo led off with a walk, stole second and then scored on a two-out single to center field by Jake Ricchiuti. 

The Powerballers tied in the second inning, as Santi Rodriguez led off with a triple to left center and then scored on a wild pitch. 

But after that, the game belonged to Cage Academy. It pulled away by combining timely hitting with balls put in play that were mishandled. 

It started with a three-run third inning. Travis Evernham led off for Cage Academy by reaching on an error. He stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Scott Germaine reached on a single to the right side of the infield. The inning also included a run-scoring single from Matt Murphy and an RBI groundout by Figueroa for a 4-1 advantage.

Figueroa held the Powerballers in check during the third and fourth innings, before Cage Academy struck for seven runs in the top of the fifth.

Powerballers base runner Ryan Lichtenberger dives back safely to first base ahead of pickoff attempt. 

In that big inning, Sean Burnett led off with a single, stole second and scored when Germaine reached  on an error. Murphy (who ended 2-for-2 with a walk) and Figueroa each singled in a run, Matt Melendez delivered a two-run double, and Robert Mioduszewski and Evernham both reached on errors that scored runs. 

“We put the ball in play,” Figueroa said. “That was the most important part. We put the ball in play, and made them make plays.”

The Powerballers scored an unearned run in the bottom of the inning, and had two men on with two out in a bid to extend the game, but Figueroa got the third out on a fly out to center to end the game via the eight-run, fifth-inning mercy rule.

Germaine went 2-for-4, Melendez was 2-for-3 and Vallillo was 1-for-2 with two walks for Cage Academy.

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