Jack Bronico of the NJ Rising Rebels takes a rip during game against the Philadelphia Reds
By Joe Hofmann
Dean Rider thought he’d pitch sometime this week. Maybe Wednesday. Perhaps Thursday.
Certainly not Tuesday.
Philadelphia Reds ace Henry DeStefano’s right shoulder began acting up in the early going and an emergency reliever was needed.
Guess who got the call? Dean Rider.
And guess who shut the door on the N.J. Rising Rebels? Dean Rider.
Not bad for an impromptu reliever.
Rider threw 4 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, fanning six, as his team scored a 3-0 victory in the 14U Diamond Nation World Series Tuesday morning.
Some relief pitchers melt on short notice.
“I wasn’t expecting to come in,” Rider said. “I thought I’d be pitching tomorrow (Wednesday), or (Thursday).
“I was kinda surprised.”
He sure didn’t pitch like it. Rider was more than up to the challenge. He came on to pitch in the bottom of the second, after DeStefano walked the Rebels’ Dean Salerno.
That prompted a visit from assistant coach Joe D’Orazio. It was obvious DeStafano wasn’t quite right.
But Rider was.
“Our starter is our No. 1, but he felt something in his shoulder,” head coach Sandy D’Orazio said. “(DeStefano) said he felt something pop, and I didn’t want to play around with that.”
Chad Thompson heads to first base after singling against the Philadelphia Reds.
So Rider got the ball – and he knew exactly what to do with it.
“Him coming in the way he did isn’t easy,” coach D’Orazio said. “There wasn’t a lot of warm-up time.”
Rider admitted battling a case of the nerves when he came into the game but fanned Eddie Ehrbar to end the threat. He would allow just three hits over the next four innings. More importantly, he had control of his pitches, walking just two.
“He threw strikes and did a nice job,” D’Orazio said. “If it is not a walking parade, you’ll always be in the game.”
“I was able to throw strikes,” Rider said. “My fastball was really good. I was comfortable.”
“Another thing I liked,” D’Orazio said, “was that he came in and pitched. A lot of kids watch too much TV and they’ll throw over to first a few times. But he didn’t do any of that. He pitched. He challenged hitters. He didn’t try to pick anyone off. What beats you is the walks. Then the kids fall asleep out there. But we had none of that.”
Rider survived his only other crisis in the Rebels’ sixth, when Jack Bronico (2-for-3) singled, Ian Losardo walked, and Lazarus Oliver singled to load the bases. But Rider got Jaden Penaloza on a popup to short for the third out.
The Reds attack, meanwhile, was able to hit with runners on base in three different innings.
Daniel Krellis tripled to right center to lead off the second and scored on a wild pitch. After the Rebels walked the bases loaded in the third, Brayden Vargas singled home Greyson Reasons, who had started things off with a walk.
In the fourth, the Reds added on when Fynn Morningstar singled in Max DiSanto, who had a one-out single and then stole two bases.
Earlier in the game, the lefty-swinging Morningstar was robbed of an RBI when he hit a grounds rule double to left that appeared to have scored Rider from first. Rider had singled and was well on his way to scoring on Morningstar’s deep drive into the left field corner. But the ball bounced over the fence and Rider was sent back to third, where he was stranded.
“In that first at bat, there were two outs and I just wanted to get a base hit,” Morningstar said. “I’d just hit a hard foul ball, so I thought I could get a hit, so I went the other way with it. I got the barrel on it.
“I was more confident in my second at bat. In my first two swings, I pulled off the ball. I knew that a base hit would score a run, so I just choked up and shortened up and was able to put it through the (left-center) gap.”
“He had two strikes,” D’Orazio said. “I told him to choke up and he went the other way. Good piece of hitting.”
Good piece of hitting by Morningstar. Good piece of pitching by Rider.
Good all-around morning for the Reds.