Innocenti building up quality innings for Warehouse Grizzlies

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 18, 2023

Sebastian Saracino stomps on home plate after Erich Schikschneit earned a walk-off walk in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 10-2 victory for Warehouse Grizzlies ‘26 Black.

By Rich Bevensee

Saturday evening marked Dominic Innocenti’s first appearance on the mound for the Warehouse Grizzlies ‘26 Black club team this season. 

More important than making the debut by the rising sophomore from Edison High, he knew he would be pitching on Saturday for the Grizzlies and that they want him to start on a regular basis, which is in contrast to what he experienced in high school.

“I’m excited for this summer because I know when I’m going to throw,” Innocenti said. “In high school I never knew when I was going to throw. I was playing third base for most of the season and I would get pulled in for relief here and there.” Such is life as a high school freshman.

Given the kind of confidence that comes with routine, Innocenti could produce more performances – and perhaps even better ones – like the one he had on Saturday. The 5-8, 160-pound righty allowed just two runs on two hits and two walks over four innings in the Grizzlies’ 10-2, six-inning victory over Prospects Baseball Blue in a 15U pool play contest in the Father’s Day Classic at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

“Dominic is one of our best guys on the mound,” said Grizzlies coach Bob Bennetti, who doubles as the pitching coach for Old Bridge High School’s varsity. “Dominic got to play varsity as a freshman and he had his ups and his downs. Hopefully this summer and the fall for him, he can get back to dominating because that’s really the expectation.”

The Grizzlies improved to 1-1, having lost a tough 2-1 decision to Intensity on Friday evening. The Grizzlies finish pool play against Locked In Expos Blue on Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

This spring for Edison, Innocenti pitched to a 3.13 ERA allowing seven earned runs in 15.1 innings with 12 strikeouts and 15 walks. 

On Saturday, Innocenti was buzzing through the Prospects lineup with four-seam and two-seam fastballs which leveled off in the low 80s, and a slider as well. He picked up four strikeouts. 

His only real rough spot of the evening was walking two batters in the top of the third inning before allowing a two-run double by leadoff hitter Logan Hankin. Innocenti pitched a perfect fourth before exiting the game due to a pre-determined pitch count of 60-65 pitches. He had not pitched in a month.

“I liked my two-seamer today, because whenever I fell off my four-seamer I could throw the two-seamer and get back in the zone,” Innocenti said. “I think I could have thrown one more inning.”

Lucas Malamug provided a two-run single in the first inning to get the scoring started for Warehouse Grizzlies ‘26 Black.

“We had him on a pitch count since he hadn’t thrown in a while, but our goal is to keep getting him in challenging positions against really good teams, and trying to build his pitch count up.”

Innocenti had plenty of offensive help to back his outing, but it wasn’t exactly a fireworks show. Just two of the Grizzlies’ runs were produced by a base hit.

The other runs came on fielding and throwing errors, wild pitches, passed balls and bases-loaded walks. The Grizzlies scored their 10 runs on six hits, 13 walks and three errors.

“We’ll take ‘em any way you get ‘em,” Bennetti said. “Some of these guys are coming off a layoff, so right now it’s about trying to get the timing back. We were out in front a lot and had some weak pop flies. And sometimes when you get erratic pitching it’s tough to get timing in as well. You start getting super aggressive and chasing things you don’t like.”

The one big Grizzlies’ hit came off the bat of Lucas Malamug, a rising sophomore at Metuchen who batted .327 with 11 RBI this spring. Malamug stroked a two-run single into right field to give the Grizzlies a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Gavin Slicner, who reached on a walk, later scored from third on an errant pickoff throw to first for a 3-0 lead.

The Grizzlies padded their lead with a five-run second inning. Kevin Arroyo forced in a run with a bases loaded walk. Chris Joy scored on a passed ball. Aidan Kaplan scored on a wild pitch. Arroyo came around to score on a fielding error on a misplayed Harold Denney grounder. And Malamug capped the frame with another bases-loaded walk.

Hankin breathed life into the Prospects dugout with his opposite-field, two-run double in the third inning which broke up Innocenti’s shutout bid. 

Connor Murphy, who collected two hits, added another Grizzlies run in the bottom of the third when he scored on a misplayed Sebastian Saraceno grounder.

Finally, in the sixth, the Grizzlies ended the game via the mercy rule when Erich Schikschneit was the fourth straight batter to earn a walk, forcing in Saracino.

Murphy, the only Grizzly with two hits, flashed some serious leather in the game as well. In the top of the fifth, while playing shortstop, he was the middleman on a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play, taking a toss from Slicner at second and quickly firing to first baseman Kaplan.

In the sixth, Murphy slid over to second base and showed off his range to turn in a pair of gems. Twice he scrambled to his right on slow bouncers in the middle of the diamond and then fired to first in time.

Prospects Baseball Blue concluded its weekend 0-3. The Randolph-based program lost a Friday game to Locked In Expos Blue, 13-2, and following the Grizzlies game, lost to Intensity, 17-0.

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