Barbwired catcher Santino Fiorelli makes the force play at home to get a sliding Brendan Dilemme.
By Rich Bevensee
The boys who bat in the bottom half of the order for the Diamond Assassins 10U club understand just how important they are to the team’s success.
“No matter where you hit in the lineup, everyone is going to hit and everyone is going to get a chance to get on base and help the team,” Colton Farquhar said. “So even if you get out, if you hit the ball you still are helping the team.”
He couldn’t have said it better.
Anthony Mergliano served as a perfect example of that philosophy. Batting eighth for the Assassins, he drove in two runs on a pair of groundouts and notched another RBI on a base hit to propel his team to a 13-5, five-inning victory over Barbwired Baseball in a 10U pool play battle of South Jersey teams in the Father’s Day Classic on Saturday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“When I hit the ball I get kinda mad when I don’t get on base, but it feels good that I can still help the team when I hit it,” Mergliano said.
The Assassins, from Washington Township, entered the tournament with a Diamond Nation title already under their belt this spring, having won the King of the Diamond 10U title on April 16. The Assassins continued Father’s Day Classic pool play on Sunday when they faced the Bucks County Generals at 8 a.m. and Moorestown at 10 a.m.
On Saturday, the Assassins batted 10 players and the bottom six batters combined for nine RBI. Quinn McCoy drove in two runs with a double. Garrett Gilliland had a two-run single, Collin Nunan had an RBI single, and Farquhar drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk.
“That’s the key: Top to bottom we tell them all the time it doesn’t matter where you hit in the lineup,” Assassins coach Ryan Farquhar said. “They know that their spot’s gonna come up and when it does, it’s their job to put the bat on the ball and drive runs in for us.”
Another effective aspect of the Assassins offense was that six of their 13 runs came without the benefit of a base hit.
Mergliano had two groundout RBI, Brendan Dilemme scored on a wild pitch, Dean Oshinsky scored on an infield error, Zach Carlotto had an RBI groundout, and Farquhar forced in a run with a walk.
“Putting the ball in play is contagious,” Ryan Farquhar said. “Good, bad, when we get going offensively, everyone feeds off it. Next man up and the kids roll with it.”
The game turned in the top of the fifth inning when the Assassins were protecting a 6-4 lead. They sent 12 batters to the plate and scored seven runs on three hits, four walks and two hit batsmen.
The Assassins loaded the bases to start the inning, and Barbwired pitcher Josh Ortiz induced the next batter into a fielder’s choice to get the force at home. But the four of the next five Assassins batters drove in runs to break open the game.
Farquhar earned a bases-loaded walk, Gilliland blooped a two-run single into right, Mergliano had an RBI groundout, Quinn McCoy stroked a two-run double into the left-center gap, and Zach Carlotto had an RBI single to give the Assassins a 13-4 lead.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in the lineup because any of us can hit,” Gilliland said. “We hit all together and we like watching each other hit.”
Barbwired, from the Cherry Hill, N.J. area, took its only lead of the game in the bottom of the first when Santino Fiorelli scored from first base on a two-out double by Jasyon Ingling.
Barbwired battled back from a two-run deficit to tie the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the third. Kyle Boulden cracked a shot into the left-center field gap and used his speed to circle the bases for a solo homer. Later in the inning, Mason Edelman stole home while Ingling was thrown out at second on a steal attempt.
The Assassins took the lead for good in the fifth. Mergliano sent a curling fly ball toward the right field line for an opposite-field RBI double, and Carlotto drove in a run when he grounded out for a 6-4 lead.
Carlotto, the Assassins’ shortstop, also provided the web gem of the game in the bottom of the second. Barbwired hitter Aiden Gill chopped a high bouncer over Assassins starting pitcher Collin Nunan, but Carlotto swept to his left to make the scoop up the middle and fired to nip Gill at first.
Barbwired began its tournament season with a USABL title April 23 at Adventure Park in Jackson. Barbwired continued pool play on Sunday with a doubleheader, facing Moorestown at 8 a.m. and the Bucks County Generals at 10 a.m.