Ryan Brady of Locked In Expos dives back to first ahead of Morris County Cubs pickoff attempt.
By Sean Reilly
Ryan Brady had reason to be excited when the Locked In Baseball Expos 13U made its 2023 Diamond Nation debut on Saturday morning at the 13U King of the Diamond Tournament.
The Expos are a frequent visitor to “The Nation,” and they will play in several tournaments over the months ahead.
The team’s first game of the morning, a 10-2 victory over the New Jersey Nukes, offered the Expos a chance to play an efficient game at one of their favorite places to compete.
“We come here a lot, and we love playing here and we always mark it on the calendar to do well,” Brady said.
The Expos’ second pool play game, which came immediately after, was against a very familiar opponent, the Morris County Cubs Grey. The result was a 9-5 victory for the Expos in Flemington.
“I’ve got a couple of buddies on that team,” Brady said. “I’m happy we beat them, since we go to the same school.”
The school is Frelinghuysen Middle School in Morristown, and Brady will have bragging rights on Monday morning after the win.
“We did really well and started strong at 2-0,” Brady said.
The Expos took advantage of a couple of miscues to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the first against the Cubs.
Owen Young reached on a single to shortstop with one out. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Brian Morhardt walked with two out to keep the inning going for Max Webber, who was safe on an infield error which allowed Young to score. Pat Keown then hit a single, and an error on the play scored Morhardt with the second run.
The Expos loaded the bases with two out in the second, but could not add to the lead.
The Cubs, whose earlier game in the morning was a 4-2 defeat against the Connecticut Grind, scored twice in the bottom of the second for a 2-2 tie. The inning began with walks to Jake Wolin and Luke Fazio, and Wolin scored on a wild pitch with Griffin Branch at the plate. Branch then hit an RBI triple to right field. Expos starter Noah Fulmar retired the next three batters, on a fly out to center field, strike out and fly out to right field, to strand Branch at third.
Cameron Gabriel led off the Expos third with a bunt single, and eventually scored on a wild pitch for a 3-2 lead. The Cubs got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Andrew Swanick had an RBI fielder’s choice.
The Expos created some separation by scoring three times in the fourth. Smith had a bunt single to score Brady from third with one out, and Young added a two-run double with two out for a 6-3 lead.
After Finn Kowalski had a run-scoring ground out in the bottom of the inning for the Cubs, the Expos tacked on three more runs in the fifth for a 9-4 score.
Brady, who ended 2-for-3, singled in the first run. The other runs scored when Smith’s grounder resulted in a two-run error.
“This was our first appearance at ‘The Nation’ this spring and it went really well,” noted Expos coach A.J. Yurista. “The bats were alive, we pitched well, we threw strikes and didn’t walk too many guys, and had timely hitting. It was a team effort, and we hope to continue it on Sunday.”
“It was a really good start for us,” Gabriel said. “We brought the energy early, and it was a good all-around day. We like the competition here. Also the turf fields, the mounds, the bullpens and the scoreboard. Everything here is great.”