Brick Surge first baseman Max Steinhandler stretches for throw that retires Mustangs Blue runner.
By Sean Reilly
As far as the Brick Surge was concerned, its first day at the 11U Spring Invitational at Diamond Nation was all about time.
The Shore team opened play on Saturday morning with a tough 6-5 loss against the Massapequa Cyclones-Love. It was the first game for the Surge since it completed its 2022 season last summer, and it was also its first contest on a bigger, 50/70, field.
But instead of waiting another seven months to compete again, the Surge only had to wait 15 minutes for another shot at a victory.
This time the opponent was another Shore team, the Marlboro Mustangs Blue. And Brick got to end its day on a happy note, pulling off a 9-1 victory in Flemington.
The Surge did plenty of things that would make the coaching staff happy in mid-summer, let alone the first tournament of the year in March.
Its pitching was efficient, the defense was crisp and the hitting was timely. The base running was also aggressive, and all of the elements led to the impressive outcome.
Pitcher Ryan Guarda threw all five innings. He allowed four hits, and in a rarity for a pitcher in any age group at Diamond Nation, he had no strikeouts and no walks. Instead, his efficient 48-pitch, 32-strike gem featured nine ground ball outs. Three of the four Marlboro baserunners were either out stealing or picked off, and the Surge did not commit an error.
“We lost a tough one to start,” Surge coach Jason Burgess said. “It was our first game of the season, and the first time the kids were on the 50/70 diamond and they battled. The sign of a good club is how we came back here in game two. We didn’t let the game one defeat bring us down, we came out and took care of business. Ryan pitched a great game, defense played great behind him, we were aggressive on the base paths and we had control of the game.”
“I was trying to throw strikes,” Guarda said. “The defense played really good and that gave me confidence. It was really good to be playing again outside.”
The Surge took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With two out, Anthony Fornoro hit a hard single to shortstop, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error. He then scored on a wild pitch.
Brick added six more runs in a second inning highlighted by RBI singles from Danny MacInnes and Jayden Jaycox, and a two-run double off the bat of Eli Hernandez.
Brick was not only aggressive, but also alert on the bases in the fourth inning, when a ground out to shortstop by Brian Flanagan scored not one, but two runs for a 9-0 lead.
Marlboro scored its only run in the fifth inning, when it started the inning with back-to-back grounds rule doubles by Richie Magielnicki and Austin Klein.