King delivers pool play walk-off for SFX Huskies 13U

By DN WRITING STAFF | April 7, 2024

Jacob Lyakhovetsky scores winning run on Cayden King’s two-run, walk-off single in the sixth.

By Rich Bevensee

Cayden King was plenty nervous on the inside, but he wasn’t about to let anyone else see that. The situation called for a clutch hit and King was too focused on the task at hand to allow emotions take over.

With the tying and winning runs in scoring position and the St. Francis Xavier Huskies 13U ballclub trailing by a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, King golfed a 1-2 pitch into right field to drive in two runs and boost the Brooklyn-based Huskies to their second straight, come-from-behind victory of the afternoon, this one a 6-5 decision over North East Baseball – Guerrero in April Fool’s Tournament pool play on Saturday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

“I was extremely nervous, but you just gotta lock in, you know,” King said. “It’s not hard to lock in. You have to take a second and focus. This feels great. It made me extremely excited to see them rush out of the dugout and charge me.”

The Huskies improved to 2-0 on the day thanks to King’s heroics. Earlier Saturday on the same field they trailed the Diamond Jacks Super 13U squad 6-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning and rallied for a 7-6 win.

“We’ve been in a lot of situations where we didn’t come through so I’m really proud of them, the way they stuck with it and didn’t give up today. It was awesome,” Huskies coach Ben Goldberg said. “I hope today gives them a lift. We didn’t play our best baseball, so I hope they understand not every day is going to be your best day but you still have to compete.”

The Huskies wrap up pool play against Central Jersey Rebels Black on Sunday at 12:15 p.m.

NEB Guerrero, based in Harvard, Massachusetts, was to play Central Jersey Rebels Black on Saturday evening and Diamond Jacks Super 13U on Sunday to complete pool play.

The Huskies rally came on the heels of a NEB rally where coach J.P. Guerrero’s team scored three runs in the top of the sixth and took a 5-4 lead. Jacob Knowles had the big stroke in that frame, lacing an opposite-field single to right to score two runs and give his team the lead, albeit briefly. 

The bottom of the sixth began when NEB reliever Hayden Fairhurst retired his first two batters, reducing the Huskies to their final out. 

With two out, Goldberg’s son, Ben Manter-Goldberg, reached on an outfield error, Jacob Lyakhovetsky singled and Rafa Greengard walked to load the bases.

Up to the plate strode King, who has been in game-in-the-balance situations before. And what happened the last time he faced this situation?

“I walked it off,” King said. “Honestly, it comes down to not wanting to let my team down so I try to step it up. When I got up I was a little upset that we had two outs, but my approach was just hit in the gap, and that’s what I did.”

“We call him MVP,” Goldberg said. “He’s had a lot of big hits like that. He’s a guy you want up in that situation. He has great hand-eye coordination and he’s a great athlete.

“That pitch he hit was in the dirt. We were called out looking a bunch of times today on that same pitch. Cayden knew he couldn’t go down looking, and he got the barrel on the ball.”

Jacob Knowles’ two-run single in the top of the sixth gave NEB Guerrero a 5-4 lead.

The Huskies collected just five hits in the game, with two by Greengard. 

Eli Metzger’s RBI single in the second inning tied the game at 1-1 and Jack Carss got the Huskies their first lead when he scored on a wild pitch. 

The Huskies extended their lead to 4-1 in the fourth by scoring a pair of runs on a fielding error on a King grounder.

NEB began crawling back into the game in the fifth with a Sam Shafran sacrifice fly, making the score 4-2.

In the top of the sixth, NEB’s Mark DeTraglia scored on an error before Knowles sliced a bases-loaded single into right to drive in the go-ahead runs. 

Huskies starting pitcher Clinton Wilson went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits and eight walks with four strikeouts. His NEB counterpart, Mitch Pollack, also went five innings and permitted four runs on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts. 

Manter-Goldberg came on in relief of Sammy Bolotin in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded and no outs. After allowing Knowles two-run single, Manter-Goldberg then struck out the next three batters to keep the Huskies within a run.

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *