Franklin’s huge day powers HV Bulldogs to 2-0 start at Labor Day Blast

By DN WRITING STAFF | September 3, 2023

HV Bulldogs 15U pitcher Mason Franklin was terrific on the mound.

By Will Harrigan

The Hudson Valley Bulldogs travel baseball program amasses some of the better talent in the Catskills area.

Coming to Diamond Nation this weekend, the Bulldogs 15U squad knew it would be facing a tough field at the Labor Day Blast.

But the Bulldogs have an ace in Mason Franklin, and his efforts on the mound – and with the bat in a big spot – have the Bulldogs in a good position.

Franklin’s superb pitching and go-ahead three run homer ignited the Bulldogs to a 4-2 victory over Northeast Pride on Saturday morning.

The Bulldogs, who won their earlier tilt, are now 2-0 in the tournament and are in a prime position to make the playoffs. The game was the tournament opener for Northeast Pride.

At one point, Franklin struck out eight consecutive batters in a complete game six-hitter that included 11 total strikeouts.

“Mason’s one of our big guys. We knew we were playing a very good team today, and had to kind of go to him to get us out of the group stage,” said Bulldogs coach Rich Lepere. “He was an everyday starter at Wallkill High School, who got to the state semifinals as a freshman this past year. The kid is a winner.”

Despite Franklin’s terrific pitching, the score was tied, 1-1, in the fifth inning with the top of the Bulldogs order coming up.

Lucas Perillo doubled into the right-center field gap to start things off, and Liam Correa followed with a single to put two men aboard. 

Franklin then stepped in and turned a pitch around well over the left-field wall for a three-run home run, giving the Bulldogs a 4-1 lead.

An inning earlier, the Bulldogs – who had left seven men on base in the first three innings – drew first blood. Three straight walks loaded the bases, and two batters after that, a grounder off of Ryan Landis’ bat drove home Richie Rouhan for the game’s first run.

Northeast Pride outfielder Dominic Rynard gets ready to rip in Saturday’s game.

Northeast Pride, a Pennsylvania-based club, leveled things up in the top half of the fifth. Jacoby Harnen singled to lead off the inning, and reached scoring position two batters later when Kaden Zimoriwicz singled.

With two outs, Evan Harchar came up with a clutch, two-out single to score Harnen to even the score.

In the sixth and final inning, the Pride tried to rally from a three-run deficit.

Leo Nockley singled to start the rally, and Dominic Rynard – the only player with a multi-hit game – doubled to put two men in scoring position.

Ozzy Vogel-Moore then grounded out to third, driving in Nockley and cutting the deficit to 4-2. Franklin would recover, striking out the next two batters to close out the victory.

“We have more arms lined up and we’re in a good spot,” said Lepere. “If we keep playing smart baseball and hit the ball, we’ll have a good chance to get to Monday.”

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