Sal Trotta of Freedom Baseball is about to get another base on a wild pickoff attempt.
By Joe Hofmann
Freedom Baseball coach Bryan Tatelman gave the sign from third base, and then batter Liam Saavedra gave his sign from the batter’s box.
The game was tied in the top of the seventh. The suicide squeeze was on.
And Saavedra was not so sure he could pull it off.
Time for a brief meeting between coach and player.
“I asked him, ‘Can you put it down?’” Tatelman said.
“I don’t know,” Saavedra said.
“You can do it,” Tatelman responded.
Moments later, Saavedra’s bat deadened the ball in front of home plate, pinch-runner Ryan Collins scored, and Freedom captured a wild 4-3 victory over the TC Blackhawks in the 14U Summer Finale at Diamond Nation.
“Small ball,” Tatelman said, “still wins games.”
Freedom entered the top of the seventh trailing, 3-2, and immediately began its comeback when Matt Trabulsi singled to center and Brandon Criolli singled to left.
Will Donaghy then laid down a bunt, intending to move the runners. But the Blackhawks first baseman fielded it, looked at Trabulsi running toward third a little too long, and then threw late to first base, loading the bases.
Collins then struck out and pinch ran for Criolli, the catcher. One out later, winning pitcher Sameer Rahamann singled in a run to tie it.
That brought up Saavedra, nerves and all.
“He told me to watch for the sign,” Saavedra said. “I didn’t know if I could get it down, but he said, ‘You KNOW you can get it down.”
Saavedra did and Collins was able to come flying in from third.
“Bryan still teaches bunting and he called it in just the right spot,” Freedom owner John Kourie said. “Not only that, Ryan got a great jump.”
It was the fourth time Freedom bunted. They pulled off two successful sac bunts earlier in the game.
In the third inning, Matt Colavita singled to left to lead off and Sean Finneran sacrificed him over. One out later, lefty-swinging Sal Trotta went the other way with a base hit to left field and that scored Colavita.
In the sixth, Jayden Setiadi bunted Finneran over, but Trotter lined into a nice 7-4 double play turned in by Blackhawks left fielder Jack Rosado.
Freedom Baseball’s Sal Trotta looks for a pitch to hit.
The Blackhawks took a one-run lead into the seventh thanks to a three-run outburst in the fourth.
Rosado walked, stole second and came home when the ball got past Criolli at the plate after Rafael Almonte’s infield grounder. Jaden McLeod doubled home Almonte and later scored on a passed ball.
The Blackhawks began to rally back in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Nunez reached on an infield hit and stole second.
But Rahamann struck out Anastasio Rodriguez and Criolli immediately threw out Nunez attempting to steal third to end the game.
“Great throw by Criolli there,” Kourie said. “Things like that win you the game. Small ball wins games.”