Grizzlies’ DiCarlo puts out fire to stop TKR Reds

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 19, 2022

Anthony Calantoni of the Grizzlies ripped a double in his team’s victory over the TKR Reds.

By Rich Bevensee

When he’s starting a game on the bench, Declan DiCarlo won’t be caught chatting up his teammates or debating the best flavor of sunflower seeds.

DiCarlo will be studying every move his opponent makes, and how they react to what his teammates are doing. And that makes the promising right-hander a student of the game.

After watching Warehouse Grizzlies ‘25 teammate Tommy Schlaline handle the first two innings with middling success, DiCarlo was handed the controls and put his mental notes to use by blanking the TKR Reds for two more innings. 

DiCarlo’s relief work ensured the Grizzlies’ 7-4 victory in pool play in the 15U Father’s Day Classic on Friday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

“From my standpoint the main goal was to figure out what works and what gets batters out,” said DiCarlo, who did not permit a base hit, allowed four walks and struck out two in 2⅔ innings after the Reds struck for four runs in the first two frames. “I was trying to replicate what Tommy was doing and come in with my own stuff and my own repertoire.”

DiCarlo, who employed mainly a fastball and slider to keep the Reds at bay, allowed just two batted balls into the outfield out of the 12 batters he faced. 

“Later on through the game you could figure out the inside corner was huge because the umpire was set up there,” said DiCarlo, who pitched for the Edison High varsity team this spring. “You could just keep pounding that spot.”

The Reds scuffed up Schlaline for four runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks in the first 2⅓ innings. Schlaline handed off to DiCarlo with runners on first and second and one out in the top of the third inning.

DiCarlo walked his first batter to load the bases, then induced a pair of infield pop-ups to escape his one and only jam and preserve the Grizzlies’ 7-4 lead.

“He’s just a guy who will come in and fill up the zone for us,” Grizzlies coach Eric Reardon said. “We know what we’re going to get when we put Declan on the mound. That’s why, in a game like this where there’s a lot of offense going on early, we had to put our stopper out there, a guy who’s going to put out the fire. That’s what we expect out of him and it’s awesome that he did his job.”

It didn’t hurt that the Grizzlies attacked Reds pitching through the first two frames.

Ceasar Figueroa of TKR Reds takes a rip during Father’s Day Classic on Friday night.

Will Buchan made the loudest noise with his bat for the Middlesex County-based club, smacking a two-out, two-run single to left which fueled a four-run first inning rally. Also in that inning, Reed Kerstetter scored on an error following a Robert Roma single, and Lucas Cassino forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk.

“This summer I’d like to square up the ball more and hit into the gaps,” said Buchan, who played varsity ball as a middle infielder and pitcher at Spotswood. “I’ve always been a line drive hitter but I’d like to hit with more power. Just keep getting bigger, stronger, faster, everything.” 

Buchan said he learned a lot this spring by observing the older players on varsity.

“There were a lot of expectations, especially from the coaches,” he said. “But the biggest thing was to emulate the older guys because they know what they’re doing. It was a fun year, though. I had a lot of fun with it and  hopefully can roll with it the next three years.”

The Grizzlies tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the second, beginning when Hayden Dziubeck walked, advanced to third on Anthony Calantoni’s double and scored on a wild pitch for a 5-4 Grizzlies lead. Kerstetter added an RBI sacrifice fly, and Roma scored on a throwing error on a Connor Glynn infield grounder. 

To their credit, the Reds, based in Staten Island, quieted the Grizzlies lineup in the second half of the game, just as DiCarlo was doing to them. Anthony Woods, the Reds’ third pitcher of the game, pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one walk and no hits and struck out one. 

Andrew Bellina started for the Reds, going ⅔ of an inning and allowing four runs (three earned) on two hits and four walks with one strikeout. Jon Konczynski pitched 1⅓ innings of relief, permitting three runs (two earned) on three hits and one walk with one strikeout. 

Reds left fielder Christian Comodo launched his team’s biggest blast in the first inning, a two-out, two-run grounds-rule double which bounced over the fence and the alternate dugout in the left field corner.  

Caesar Figueroa had an RBI single in that inning. In the second, Justin Nelson rapped an RBI single and later scored on an error on Ty Lawless’ infield chopper. 

The Grizzlies celebrated a sweep of their Friday night twinbill after a demonstrative 11-2 verdict over Locked In Baseball Expos 15U Black. The Grizzlies completed pool play with a 3-3 tie with Wladyka Baseball American on Saturday night, are 2-0-1 and at the top of the 15U standings.

The TKR Reds split their Friday night doubleheader by edging the Bridgewater Panthers 5-4. The Reds closed pool play with a 4-0 loss to Locked In Baseball Expos 15U Black on Saturday night.

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