Ian Wirtz of Connecticut Edge 18U looks ready to rock in 18U World Series on Thursday.
By Luis Torres
Angel Salome told his team they had to change their approach at the plate as Connecticut Edge 18U’s contest against Diamond Jacks 17u Gold reached the middle innings.
CT Edge had jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the first, courtesy of a solo home run by Ian Wirtz to open the scoring. However, over the next three innings, CT Edge’s offense mustered zero hits and found itself down 2-1. So Salome kept telling his squad to be patient at the plate and to look for their pitches.
They were right to heed his words.
CT Edge 18U scored nine runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, cruising to an eventual 10-2 win in four in a half innings over Diamond Jacks 17U Gold in the 18U Diamond Nation World Series Wood Bat play on Thursday in Flemington.
“It was just the mindset,” said Salome on what changed in the fourth inning. “Right away, when you tell the boys to get in their minds to have an approach and have a plan at the plate, everything gets more simple. I was talking to the hitters and I said, ‘Guys, listen, we have a guy throwing 72-75 (mph), and we’re trying to yank the baseball. Have a plan. Wait for the fastball middle-away.’
“Right after that, everything just clicked.”
The nine-run outburst began with a leadoff walk by Hendrys Echavarria, with Wirtz getting hit by a pitch and then Ryan Barbieri drawing a full-count walk after he fought off several two-strike pitches.
That set the table up for Nick Clark, who cleared the bases with a triple.
“I was just sitting fastball,” Clark said. “It was coming in pretty flat, and I just hit it hard and put it in play with the bases loaded.”
In total, CT Edge sent 14 hitters to the plate in the bottom of the fourth, completely changing the dynamic of the contest, which had a quick pace as both teams tried to gain an advantage.
“I think we just had better approaches in that inning,” Clark said. “We were just barreling balls and hitting balls everywhere. Once the guys got on, it was just put the ball in play and get them in.”
Jordan Chui gave the Diamond Jacks a 2-1 lead in the top of the second inning after he hit a two-run single to right field, scoring Matthew Westcott and Ben Fonseca, who both reached base via singles.
Starting pitcher Jacob Rosado settled down after allowing the solo home run to Wirtz, retiring six of the next eight hitters he faced, inducing an inning-ending double play to get out of the second frame.
But CT Edge stayed patient at the plate, with Salome saying he was pleased that his team embraced his message.
“To be honest with you, it’s about the players for me,” he said. “I feel great joy when I see the players translate what we worked on in the cages onto the field. When you speak about the mindset and they do it on the field, to me, that’s a win. Even if we lose the game, it’s a win. I want the guys to develop as much as they can.”