Zach Perlin of Elkridge tries to squeeze home Isaac Blinkoff, who scored on wild pitch.
By Sean Reilly
Like any pitcher, Blake Kolarek puts plenty of work into his delivery to the plate.
The right-hander for the Elkridge Hurricanes also devotes a significant chunk of practice time to his pickoff moves, and it paid off in a big way on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation.
Kolarek picked off a runner at first base in the second inning, and another at second base in the third frame.
Combined with catcher Connor Brown throwing out a runner trying to steal third in the second inning, those three plays made a huge difference in a 4-0 victory for the Maryland team over the NJ Rising Rebels 2027 at the 15U Fall Harvest tournament in Flemington.
The Hurricanes, who scored once in the first inning before adding three more runs in the sixth, began their day with a 12-2 win over the Locked In Baseball Expos. A Sunday win over the Diamond Jacks Super 14U (1-1) could clinch a first-place pool finish.
Kolarek was lifted after hitting his pitch limit with two outs in the sixth inning. He allowed two hits, with four strikeouts and four walks. He exited after retiring seven straight, and 10 of his last 11 batters.
“I definitely would have given up a couple of runs if the pickoffs weren’t on,” he said. “I had never picked off anyone at second before, but I definitely practice my pickoffs to first.”
When working to the plate, Kolarek didn’t stray much from his fastball.
“I was mostly throwing the fastball today,” he said. “I just stuck to it and it worked. I walked a couple of guys, but I wasn’t worried about it because I knew the defense was going to be on.”
Leadoff batter Zach Perlin, who went 2-for-3, factored into every run for the Hurricanes.
He led off the bottom of the first with a double to right field, moved to third when Carter Parise grounded out to second, and scored on a wild pitch with Kaiden Cummings at the plate.
NJ Rising Rebels first baseman Silas Giger handles throw for an out.
The 1-0 score held until the bottom of the sixth, which started with Isaac Blinkoff hitting a single that deflected off the first baseman, who was ranging to his right side. Mikey Schiano was up next, and he dropped down a bunt single. A throwing error on the play sent Blinkoff to third, and Schiano promptly stole second.
After a strikeout, Perlin was the next batter. The Hurricanes called for a squeeze, and Perlin was prepared to deliver the bunt, but the pitch was high and outside and went past the catcher, allowing the oncoming Blinkoff to score, and Schiano to take third.
Perlin followed with a double to center field that scored Schiano for a 3-0 lead. Parise grounded out to shortstop, with Perlin advancing to third. Cummings then followed with a grounds rule double to center field for the final run. Cummings also finished 2-for-3.
Sam Bastardo pitched very well for the Rising Rebels. He allowed six hits, with four strikeouts and two walks. He allowed only one hit from the second through fifth innings.
“This was a good day,” Kolarek said. “The bats were going in the first game, I think everyone got a hit. In this one, we didn’t have many errors and at the end we really started hitting.”