PS2 Academy pitcher Jack Pintarelli looks back at Morris County Cubs 16U White runner Colin Iberer.
By Sean Reilly
Andrew Guffanti doesn’t consider himself particularly large, so he likes to make up for it in other ways.
Guffanti’s height is 5-7, and he weighs 145 pounds. But the Morris County Cubs 16U White player is good at making contact, and when he does, he’s blessed with very noticeable speed.
“With my size, the speed is something that helps me out,” said Guffanti, who just began his junior year at Whippany Park High School.
Guffanti hit a standup RBI triple before scoring the tying run in the second inning. He then reached on a single, stole a base, advanced on a ground out and scored the decisive run on a wild pitch when the Cubs 16U White opened play at the Diamond Nation Fall League with a 3-2 win over PS2 Academy of Wayne on Thursday night in Flemington.
“He was the game tonight for us on offense,” said Cubs coach Zach Fike. “His speed was what we needed.”
The Cubs employed three pitchers in the game. Justin Smith, who is currently working on a 35-pitch limit, served as an opener and worked 1⅔ innings. Lunden Chadwell pitched the next 3⅓ , allowing no runs, and Colin Iberer worked the sixth and final inning, striking out the last two batters with runners on second and third.
All in all, it was a perfect Fall League night. Pitchers got in their work, hitters got their reps, and also got to hit in specific game situations. Defense was also important. Even if they made out, hitting in certain situations was a whole lot better and potentially more beneficial than an intra-squad scrimmage or a session in a cage.
“I’m looking to play as much as I can and get as many reps as possible,” said Guffanti, referring to his goals for the Cubs’ weekly Fall League games at ‘The Nation.’
“This type of game was why we’re here,” Fike said.
PS2 Academy, which was also playing its Fall League opener, took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Alex Vargas, a new member of the team, hit an RBI single to center field with two out. With Vargas on first and Max Lee on third, a successful double steal play brought in the second run.
The Cubs tied the score in the bottom of the frame. Will Ferguson reached on an error with one out, and Guffanti followed with his triple to right field. He reached third easily, thanks to his extreme quickness.
“I saw a curve ball outside and took it the way it came,” he said.
Justin LoBello was the next batter, and his ground out to second scored Guffanti with the tying run.
PS2 almost took the lead in the third. A batter reached on an error with two out, and Yordany Herrera doubled to left center. It was hit deep enough to score the runner, only the Cubs successfully appealed that he missed third base.
The Cubs broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth. Guffanti led off with a single, and stole second.
The next two batters then demonstrated why the Fall League is so useful. LoBello worked the count full before hitting a useful ground out to second that advanced Guffanti to third.
The next batter came up with the infield playing in. Even though he struck out, it was a situational at-bat that could pay off in a future game.
Brady Capko was up next, and a wild pitch during his at-bat enabled Guffanti to race home with the go-ahead run.
“I saw the opportunity and took off,” he said.
Iberer then pitched a gutsy sixth inning to close out the win.
He struck out the first batter before allowing walks to Justin Cabrera and Jack Pentarelli. A wild pitch on a 0-1 offering moved both into scoring position.
With the infield in, Iberer struck out that batter, and with the fielder’s moved back, his third strikeout of the inning ended the game with the 1:50 time clock having expired during the inning.