By Sean Reilly
When Anthony Krywenko, head coach of the Hamilton A’s Elite 10U, praises his team as a group that won’t quit, he’s speaking the complete truth.
When Jack Traino, one of the key players on the Mercer County team, says that his club played amazing on Sunday at Diamond Nation, no one will doubt that either.
The A’s completed a special weekend in Flemington by rallying from big deficits in two separate games to capture the 10U Halloween Bash championship. The capper was a 17-12 championship win over Colossal 10U Select.
The A’s came to ‘The Nation’ on Saturday missing a number of players who had football commitments. After losing the first game by a large margin, they won the second via mercy rule.
The A’s were the third seed in Sunday’s four-team playoffs. Their semifinal matchup was against the Diamond Jacks, the same team they had lost to, 13-3, in the opening game.
This time, the A’s had a full lineup. They still fell into a 5-0 hole against the Diamond Jacks, but rallied to win, 12-6.
That victory earned the championship matchup against top-seed Colossal Select, who entered with a 3-0 record and 39-8 run difference.
Colossal Select got hits from its first seven batters during a five-run first inning, and led 9-3 after the third.
But the carefree A’s once again fought back and rallied for another victory, and second-straight tournament title, after winning at another location last week.
Nothing that the A’s accomplish surprises their coach.
“These boys don’t quit,” Krywenko said. “We were down 5-0 and 9-3 in both games today and came back in both. I’m really proud of them.”
The best part about it for the A’s is that everyone did something to contribute, whether it was a hit, defensive play or meaningful pitch.
Traino, for instance, went 2-for-2, drew a walk, was hit by a pitch and scored three runs with one RBI. He also pitched the final three innings in the final after his team scored eight times in the top of the fourth to establish an 11-9 lead.
Mike Osadacz of the Hamilton A’s was named the 10U Halloween Mash Most Valuable Player.
“We played amazing,” he said. “It was great to come back.”
Another standout was Mike Osadacz, who had calming relief appearances in both Sunday games and was selected tournament MVP.
“It feels really good,” he said after receiving the award and championship medal.
The key for the A’s in the final was the eight-run fourth, in which 13 batters came to the plate.
Jack Flynn singled in the first run with one out, and Tyler Warner walked with the bases loaded before the second out. Traino also walked with the bases loaded before a brief rain delay.
When play resumed, Shane Perez hit a three-run triple to left-center field for a 9-9 tie. T.J. Chew followed with an RBI single for the lead, and he scored when Osadacz reached on an error.
Blake Kozlowski led off the fifth inning with a walk and scored on a two-out wild pitch for a 12-9 advantage. That was important, since Colossal Select scored twice in the bottom of the inning, with Chase Cianfroni, who had doubled, scoring on a wild pitch and Andrew Yarnes supplying an RBI groundout.
The A’s pulled away by scoring five times in the sixth for a 17-11 lead. Wild pitches scored the first two runs, A.J. Krywenko reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Osadacz on an excellent tag-avoiding slide, and the last two runs also scored on wild pitches.
Colossal Select got an RBI triple from Liam DiMenna with one out in the bottom of the inning, and Michael Sapio followed with a walk and stolen base, but Traino didn’t panic, and struck out the next two batters to end the game.
Elias Almonte, Traino, Perez, Chew and Virat Tripathi all finished with two hits apiece for the A’s.
Kaleb Sickler, Cianfroni, Yarnes, Lincoln Koss and DiMenna all ended with two hits for Colossal 10U Select.