Kirk Alessi of Full Count Baseball scores on wild pitch as part of a seven-run first inning.
By Sean Reilly
Ollie Eschenroeder had a first inning to dream about on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation.
The right-hander was the starting pitcher for Full Count Baseball in its opening game at the Fall Harvest 11U Tournament.
But before he even threw a pitch, he was able to bat twice in the top of the first. He got to deliver an RBI triple, his first extra-base hit of the fall season, as part of a seven-run burst for his team.
He ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the inning, as the opposing Greene County Outlaws loaded the bases. But he escaped that jam with no damage after a two-out strike out, and his team went on to cruise to a 19-2, three-inning victory in Flemington.
The Somerset County squad followed that game with a 5-3 win over EH Elite later in the day. The 2-0 start tied them with the Diamond Jacks Super 11U for first place in Pool A. They’ll meet on Sunday afternoon with a first-place finish on the line, with the winner playing the opposite pool winner for the championship at 6:30 p.m.
In the win over the New York State-based Outlaws, Full Count Baseball totaled 16 hits, including nine for extra bases. Each of the 10 players in its batting lineup had at least one hit and scored at least one run.
Alex Wheeler led the way by going 3-for-3 with two doubles, three runs and one RBI, while Ryan Sharma, Leo Murray, Emilio Depasquale and Michael Kwiatowski had two hits each.
It all started with the big first inning. Ethan Spinner led off with a walk, and Eschenroeder followed his triple, which split the center and right fielders.
“That was great,” he said. “That was actually my first extra base hit of the season.”
Eschenroeder then scored on a double by Wheeler. Walks to Kirk Alessi and Sharma loaded the bases. Drew Pietrowski was hit by a pitch to score Wheeler, and Alessi raced home on a wild pitch with Leo Murray at the plate for a 4-0 lead. Murray walked to reload the bases, and Depasquale hit a three-run double, all before an out was recorded.
That start gave Eschenroeder some breathing room on the pitcher’s mound.
“It was great,” he said. “It means you can give up some runs, and not have it cost you.”
While that may be true, it didn’t happen.
In the bottom of the first inning, Eschenroeder struck out the first batter. Darius Vincent then reached for Greene County by hitting a bloop that dropped between the pitcher and second baseman. Braden Martin walked, and Ethan Lenzo hit a shot to center that was caught on a nice play by Sharma. Daegan Welch singled to load the bases, but Eschenroeder struck out the next batter to maintain the 7-0 lead.
“I couldn’t find the strike zone for a little bit,” he said. “But I worked out of it.”
In the second inning, Wheeler led off with a double to left center, and he scored on a one-out grounds rule double to right center by Sharma. Murray hit an opposite field single to right field to score Sharma with two out.
The third inning featured 10 runs on 10 hits. Big blows included an RBI double by Kwiatowski, a two-run double from Pietrowski, and additional RBI doubles from Depasquale and Spinner.
“A game like this is a lot of fun,” said Wheeler, who singled and scored in the third. “We worked really hard, and we had a lot of runs and good pitching. We were focused in the beginning of the game, which helped us score a lot of runs, and then we kept it up.”
Eschenroeder left after two innings, and Greene County scored twice in the third. Maks Drukarczyk and Vincent had run-scoring hits for the Outlaws.