Jake Vanhoy of Parkville Baseball Club scores on sacrifice fly from Hayden Sulkowski.
By Sean Reilly
One of the nice things about the weekly tournament action at Diamond Nation is how the matchups bring together teams who’d otherwise never face each other.
That was the case on Friday afternoon, although with an interesting twist.
An opening game in the 14U Independence Weekend Firecracker paired HCYP Raiders Blue against Parkville Baseball Club. Both teams hail from Maryland, from a distance of roughly 30 minutes apart. But they compete in different circles, so it was a contest in Flemington, N.J. which brought them together.
The Raiders emerged the winner, by scoring two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to rally to a 7-4 decision.
Leadoff man Justin Means was a catalyst for the Royals. He walked in the first and third innings, singled and scored the tying run in the fifth, and smacked a two-run base hit in the sixth.
“Leading off, I try to get on base and see good pitches,” he said. “This is a good way to start off the weekend.”
Parkville scored in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead. Ryan Bruce had an RBI fielder’s choice to account for the first run, and Jaden DeCastro punched a two-out, run-scoring double to right field to score the other.
The Raiders scored their first run in the top of the third, on an RBI single by Zac Hunter.
The Raiders then grabbed a 3-2 lead courtesy of an exciting play in fourth. With two out and Noah Weinig on third base, Brennan Giangrasso hit a ball that traveled to the fence in center field for an inside-the-park home run.
Oddly enough, Parkville began the bottom of the inning with an almost identical play, as Bruce led off with a ball also hit to center field for an inside-the-park homer and a 3-3 tie.
The next batter was Jake Vanhoy, who walked, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and then scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to center field by Hayden Sulkowski.
HCYP Raiders Blue reclaimed the lead in the fifth. The rally began with Means reaching on a leadoff single to third base. After a fly out, a base hit by Jake Boarman and a full-count walk to Jeremy Marsh loaded the bases.
The key play of the game then occurred, as Weinig hit a fly out to center field that scored Means with the tying run. Marsh was caught between first and second and tagged out for a double play, but the umpires ruled that Boarman also successfully tagged from third to home before the third out was made. The result of it all was a 5-4 lead for the Raiders.
The Raiders defense sparkled in the bottom of the frame by turning an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play with Parkville’s meat of the order due up.
The Raiders created breathing space in the sixth. Bryan Sanchez singled with one out, and, after a foul out to the catcher, Carter Bade drew a walk and stole second, leaving men on second and third for Means, who delivered both with a single to right field.
“I had two strikes,” he said. “I was trying to put it in play somewhere.”
Giangrosso, who relieved starting pitcher Marsh in the fourth inning, allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth, but picked him off at first base and then struck out the next two batters to end the game.
The Raiders continue pool play on Saturday against Team Crush before meeting the NJ Jays on Sunday.
Parkville plays the NJ Jays on Saturday and Team Crush on Sunday.
The tournament concludes with playoffs on Monday.