Chris Ganim provided five very solid innings on the mound and Mike Flashner and Mike Sutter delivered timely RBI hits as Richmond County Baseball Club Marucci 17U defeated 9ers Baseball Club, 8-4, in the 17/18U August Showdown Blue Bracket championship game.
Both teams played solid baseball all around in what amounted to the August Showdown’s Late Late Show as the game ended perilously close to midnight on Sunday.
Ganim reasserted himself after a ragged relief outing in an earlier tournament game and gave RCBC five innings of four-hit ball in which he battled with runners on base in each inning. Ganim struck out five and walked five.
“I clearly didn’t have my best stuff in the relief outing,” said Ganim. “I hit a batter and let two other guys get on.” Ganim was extricated from the outing after those three batters by coach Nick DeFendis who couldn’t have been more pleased by his young pitcher’s response to the initial adversity.
“Chris bounced back nicely tonight after we had to get him out of that game,” said DeFendis. “That shows good character to come back as well as he did after that. He showed he’s got what it takes to succeed.”
Ganim received plenty of help from his teammates in the form of nine hits and a whopping 21 batters who reached base in the five inning game ended by the 1:50 time limit. RCBC struck for four runs in the second inning and three runs in the third to take control of the championship game.
The big at bats for RCBC came in a number of forms; lined shots, poked singles, a successful squeeze bunt, eight drawn walks and a hit by pitch.
Mike Sutter of RCBC was named the 17/18U August Showdown Blue Bracket Most Valuable Player for his all-around outstanding tournament that included a grand slam in an earlier game.
“Sutter’s a quality kid,” said DeFendis. “He’s a good hitter who had a key at bat for us in this game, too.” Sutter poked a single through the right side of a drawn-in 9ers Baseball infield to deliver the first of the three runs in the third inning rally.
Mike Flashner — “Flash” to his teammates — came up huge twice in long at bats in which he delivered RBI hits. Flashner brought home the final two runs of the four-run rally in the second with a single through the middle. He also drove a single to right field to score Sutter with RCBC’s final run in the fifth. Both hits came with two outs and two strikes when Flashner was in a defensive pose at the plate.
“Flash is going to make a college coach really happy one day,” said DeFendis. “He is our rookie on the team and he comes to play.”
Aside from the good at bats by RCBC that led to a couple big innings and a lot of base runners, Ganim was the leveling force, the arm that kept a potent 9ers Baseball lineup at bay while the RCBC lineup built momentum.
“My two-seamer was working really well,” said the lefty Ganim. “I threw some curveballs, as well, and sliders down and in to righties.”
The bottom half of the RCBC lineup ignited the rallies in the second and third innings. The Staten Island club struck quickly in the second. Owen Callahan drew a leadoff walk and took second on a wild pickoff attempt. Andrew DeAngelis then drove him in with a grounds rule double to left field. Joe Mennella followed with an RBI double to left that bounded over the left fielder’s head. Back-to-back two-out walks to Tyler Gaetano and Bobby Rispoli set up Flashner’s clutch hit and extended the lead to 4-1.
The 9ers had scored in lightning quick fashion in the first inning when A.J. Ramirez tripled into the left-center field gap with one out and scored immediately on Owen Kenney’s sac fly to center.
RCBC extended its lead to 7-1 in the third and it was Callahan, again, who started things, this time with a one-out single to center. DeAngelis followed with a single and Mennella walked to load the bases. Sutter hit his RBI single through the right side, then Gaetano, the No. 10 hitter, stepped in with two outs and gamely dropped a squeeze bunt down the third base side and beat it out for an RBI single. Rispoli drew an RBI walk to cap the rally.
Ganim appeared to be gassing a bit on the steamy night as he issued walks to Matt Mason and Nick Garboosian to start the fourth. But, typical of his gritty effort, Ganim struck out the next two batters and nearly got out of the inning clean. But John Carollo’s bouncer into the shortstop hole went for an infield hit and an RBI as Mason crossed the plate, shaving the RCBC advantage to 7-3.
Ganim took matters into his own hands and picked off Carollo to end the threat.
Ramirez reached on a one-out throwing error in the fifth, stole second and third and scored when Ganim balked. But Ganim, again, reached back and got a strikeout looking to end the game.
NOTES: Alex Lanza, the RCBC third baseman, was very impressive in a number of thoroughly efficient plays at the hot corner. The 9ers’ impressive leadoff hitter Charlie Tallman hit a hot shot to third leading off the fifth. But Lanza made a nasty scoop and fired to first to get the speedy Tallman. First baseman Greg Harrison made an equally impressive scoop to barely get Tallman. …
The uncommitted Tallman, by the way, is a hard-to-miss buddle of positive energy, pushing his teammates throughout. He hit the ball hard in each of his three at bats, scored a run, stole a base and played a confident and efficient shortstop. Tallman is a rising senior at Rumson-Fair Haven and is, as yet, uncommitted. …
Flashner, RCBC’s second baseman, made a nifty play on a slow chopper by Chris Rodriguez in the second inning. He charged in and threw quickly across his body to first base to get Rodriguez by half a step.