Pat Bendert helped lead the Full Count Futures 14U club with a three-run triple in the first inning.
By Rich Bevensee
The Full Count Futures and Jersey Boyz Baseball spent the better part of an hour proving why you don’t need textbook baseball to score runs.
The 54-minute first inning of this particular 14U baseball game was filled with walks and wild pitches and hit batsmen and errors, and by the end of the carnage, neither team owned an advantage.
But what the Full Count Futures did better than the Jersey Boyz was hit the ball in big spots. Pat Bendert rocked a three-run triple and Lennox Cruz crushed a mammoth three-run home run to pace Full Count to an 11-6 pool play victory in four innings at the King of the Diamond tournament on Saturday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“The two of them (Bendert and Cruz) helped win this game, but usually it’s everyone else – everybody always contributes,” Full Count coach Noah Cheskis said. “But when the big boys step up it’s always good.”
The run production was a welcome sight for Full Count in light of its 13-0 pool play loss to the Connecticut Grind, the eventual tournament champion, earlier in the day.
“It’s never going to be easy to walk off a loss like that,” Bendert said, “but we just came back and did the best we could and it showed in the game. Coach gave us some inspiration – just let go, move on – and worry about the second game.”
Full Count concluded its weekend with a 6-2 loss to the Morris County Cubs on Sunday.
The Jersey Boyz staggered through an 0-3 weekend at the Nation. They lost a heartbreaker to the Morris County Cubs, 3-2, before bowing to Full Count, and on Sunday they lost, 14-0, to the Connecticut Grind.
Full Count, making its Diamond Nation season debut, broke a 6-6 tie in the top of the second when Ty Muccigrosso walked, moved to third after two more walks and scored on a two-out wild pitch.
The Futures continued to tack on more runs when Chase Cannon earned a pinch-hit walk, stole second and scored on an infield overthrow after a Mike Cardana single in the third inning.
The big blast of the game came with two outs in the fourth, when Cruz launched a moon shot over the left field fence for a three-run homer and an 11-6 lead. It was his first Diamond Nation home run and his third of the season.
“I knew it was gone off the bat,” Cruz said. “When you hit it right, it doesn’t feel like you hit the ball, like you didn’t even swing. Once it makes contact, it goes.”
Dylan Shah was sturdy in two shutout innings of relief work for Full Count, allowing one hit and a hit batsman and striking out four.
The first inning began for Full Count with a Muccigrosso RBI single and Bendert’s three-run triple to dead center. Bendert scored on a balk and Leo Nardi added a sacrifice fly for a 6-0 lead.
The Jersey Boyz showed their grit in overcoming that first-inning stumble with a six-run splurge of their own. Conner Neary had an RBI single and later scored on an infield error. Owen Skinner, Vincenzo Luaces and Jordan Barnes all walked with the bases loaded, and Daniel Klymchuk‘s fielder’s choice RBI tied the game at 6-6.
The Jersey Boyz also chalked up a couple web gems in the contest, including Neary coming up with a terrific sliding catch in center field in the second inning.
In the third, the Jersey Boyz turned in a stellar inning-ending double play when shortstop Reid Razydlo threw out Nardi on a grounder and first baseman Asher Holland fired home to catcher Matthew Toto to nab Cardana trying to take an extra base on the ground ball.