George, Cummings ignite Pelicans bats in Labor Day Blast

By DN WRITING STAFF | September 3, 2023

Trey George launched a leadoff triple to open the first inning for the Pelicans.

By Rich Bevensee

The Pelicans could not wait to jump back into the batter’s box. 

After getting shutout in its first game Saturday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ballclub showed no signs of dismay from its earlier defeat. It seems that scoring seven runs in the first two innings is a pretty good way of leaving a shutout in the rear view mirror.

Trey George and Grayson Cummings led off the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back triples, and the Pelicans were off and running. And Jaxson Ream, the beneficiary of that early offensive explosion, pitched three scoreless innings to lead the Pelicans to an 8-0, five-inning pool play victory over Bucks County Generals 14U Red in ‘The Nation’s’ Labor Day Blast.

“The first game we weren’t as locked in, and with another loss you probably won’t make it to the next round, so we might have been a little more focused for this game,” said Cummings, whose team lost its first game of the morning, 4-0, to FS Prime.

With the win, the Pelicans’ game on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. against the Hit & Run Outlaws will be immensely important to their plans on playing in the four-team playoff which begins with semifinals on Monday at 12:15 p.m.

Ream set the tone in the top of the first inning when he loaded the bases on a Paul Carpenter single and two walks, then got a fly ball and two strikeouts to slip out of trouble.

“In that first inning my fastball was high but it was good after that,” Ream said. “You just try to keep your composure and don’t get too mad. I was pulling across my body so I moved to the right of the mound and everything was okay from there.”

Taking a more focused approach to hitting, along with being more aggressive on the bases, was key to the Pelicans taking a 7-0 lead. 

“I just reminded them we needed to do the little things right,” Pelicans coach Scott Ream said. “We were more concerned with winning the first game rather than taking care of the little things that allow you to win the game. At the end of the day, free bases are going to lose you a lot of ball games. We gave them (FS Prime) a lot of free bases, and we didn’t give them (the Generals) a lot of free bases over here. We hit the ball well earlier, we just didn’t get lucky.”

After George and Cummings both tripled to open the Pelicans’ first at bat, Bryce Hamsher drove in George from third with a grounder which resulted in an error. Ream added an RBI groundout for a 3-0 lead.

In the second, the Pelicans sent eight batters to the plate and scored four runs on two hits, two walks and an error. Noah Hoppes, the Pelicans’ No. 10 hitter, singled in a run. George, the leadoff hitter, drove in Jack Weirzbicki from third with another grounder which led to an error. Hoppes and George capped the rally by scoring on wild pitches. 

“We were doing little things better like hitting the ball, picking out pitches, getting good at bats, and knowing what to do on the bases,” Cummings said. 

Ream went three innings and allowed two hits and three walks and struck out three using a devastating mix of his fastball, curveball and change. The Generals hitters were confounded by Ream’s offspeed offerings, most of the time watching those pitches dip in for strikes.

Grayson Cummings slides into third shortly before Jaxson Ream singled him home to earn the walk-off win for the Pelicans.

“Jaxson is one of our returning players and one of our most consistent,” Scott Ream said. “The kid can throw changeups, curveballs and fastballs for strikes, he can hit his spots, and when you can change speeds and hit your spots you can keep them off balance.”

Ream allowed just two more baseruners before he exited. The Generals had runners on first and second in the third inning before second baseman Will Brown and shortstop George helped execute a sharp 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. 

“Whenever you can get your team up and not let the other team score any runs or minimize it, it keeps the energy up so you can get the bats going,” Jaxson Ream said. “It’s nice as a pitcher when your pitches are good and you’re in a groove throughout the game. And if you’re down, get a couple offspeed pitches, throw some strikes and get your fastball going again.”

Ream also is credited with getting the walk-off hit, as he launched a two-out single to deep left field to score Cummings from third in the bottom of the fifth and secure the mercy rule victory. 

Bryson Dorris pitched well in relief, notching two shutout innings with five strikeouts while allowing one hit and four walks. 

Perhaps the Pelicans developed their grit and willpower to come back from a loss from playing a ton of baseball this summer, going 32-25-2 with successful trips to Myrtle Beach and North Carolina before starting the fall season. The Pelicans, formerly the Rams Baseball Club before changing the name this spring, were making their first Diamond Nation appearance since last fall.

Carpenter and Tommy Ferro were the only Generals to get a base hit. Dan Fandozzi pitched well in three innings of relief for Bucks County, allowing one run on two hits and one walk. 

The Generals staged a dramatic rally in the top of the sixth inning in their first game to earn a 5-5 tie with the International Baseball Academy earlier Saturday morning.

Trailing 5-3 to open the inning, the Generals tied the game when Matt Steigerwalt scored with two out after colliding with the IBA catcher following an infield pop-up. In the bottom of the sixth, IBA pushed the potential winning run to third base before the Generals’ Connor Coughlin got a strikeout to preserve the tie.

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