Patrick Hennessy of JS Elite looks to give this pitch a ride during Easter Extravaganza opener.
Matt Gathman delivered a three-run double to cap a five-run top of the third inning that turned a tight contest a bit more comfortable for Jersey Shore Elite on the way to a 9-2 victory over All Star Baseball Academy Broomall (Pa.).
Gathman had plenty of help, including fine pitching efforts by teammates Michael Arango and Michael Keefe, in giving Jersey Shore Elite a jump start in its pool play opener in the 10U Easter Extravaganza at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
Arango and Keefe combined on a four-hitter, striking out five and walking six and the pair shut out ASBA Broomall the final five innings. Except for a few fly balls lost in the sun, the teams combined for a single error in the six inning game. It was about as clean a game defensively as you one can expect at the 10U level.
“We threw strikes,” said Jersey Shore Elite coach Sean Hennessy. “At this age you want to make them swing the bats and make them make plays.”
Both teams made big plays defensively but it was Jersey Shore who swung the bats better.
Jersey Shore Elite took a quick 4-0 lead in the top of the first with the benefit of three walks and RBI singles by Arango and Blake Simon. Keefe scored on a wild pitch and Adam Tantum stole home on the back end of a double steal. But ASBA Broomall answered with a pair of runs of its own in the bottom of the inning.
Leadoff hitter Wyatt Rickards got things started for ASBA with a single through the left side and he eventually scored on a wild pitch. Cole Patterson, the ASBA starting pitcher, drew a walk and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice bouncer to the right side by Conor Nash to shave the deficit to 4-2. Rickards also had a terrific game at shortstop for ASBA.
But Arango and Keefe would shut the ASBA Broomall attack down from there as the Jersey Shore Elite lineup continued to churn.
Keefe got it started again in the third inning for Jersey Shore Elite when his leadoff pop up to the right side was lost in the high sky and sun. Adam Tantum then reached on an outfield error. Tantum drew a throw to second on a fake steal attempt, allowing Keefe to race home from third for a 5-2 lead. Back-to-back singles by Arango (2-for-3, 2 runs, RBI) and Henry Bonhomme brought Tantum around for a 6-2 lead.
Simon drew a walk to load the bases and bring Gathman to the plate.
“I just wanted to get a hit there,” said Gathman. “I was looking for a fastball, inside, outside, I didn’t care.”
Gathman stroked an outside pitch down the right field line for a double that cleared the bases and boosted the lead to 9-2. “We hit good today and made plays. That’s why we won.” Gathman also drew a walk in his three trips to the plate and stepped up defensively for Jersey Shore Elite.
Starting catcher Bonhomme had to give up the gear after getting hit with a foul ball in the third inning and Gathman jumped behind the dish. It didn’t take long for him to make an impact. ASBA Broomall had runners on first and third with two outs in the inning when Gathman gunned down a would-be base-stealer at second base for the final out.
“I don’t catch much,” said Gathman. “But I’m a pitcher, so I have a good arm.” Gathman started the game at third base but didn’t have any balls come his way until he donned the gear. He also made a nice play in the fourth when a pop up fell between home plate and first base. Gathman retrieved the ball and tagged the runner trying to score from third base.
Both teams played strong defensively and there were even a few at the highlight reel level.
Tantum made a nice play on a Jack McCusker looper behind first base for the first out of the sixth. Tantum chased down McCusker’s looper, spun and fired to second for a force out. Tantum nearly made a diving catch of another looper to the right side by Shane McCollum later in the sixth, but he couldn’t hold on and McCollum had a single.
Rickards (1-for-2, run), the ASBA shortstop, capped his terrific game with an inning-ending double play in the top of the sixth. Rickards fielded a grounder, stepped on second and fired to first for the pretty double play. He also fielded his other three chances cleanly and fired to first for the outs.
ASBA catcher Michael Travaglini on a runner trying to score on a wild pitch that didn’t quite get far enough away in the fifth.
This Jersey Shore Elite 10U group came together for the first time last fall and is made up of players from the Toms River, Brick Pt. Pleasant area. They won the Battle at the Turf 10U championship on March 27. “That was our second straight tournament win because we won our last tournament in the fall,” said Hennessy.
Up Next: Jersey Shore Elite sits atop the 10U Easter Extravaganza standings after one game and faces the Coventry River Cats in its second pool play game at 3:15 p.m. today on Field 3B. ASBA Broomall (0-1) plays NY Dynasty Elite 9U (1-0) at 3:15 on Field 3A. Both teams have a pool play game remaining tomorrow before the championship game pairing is set.