Hamilton A’s catcher A.J. Krywenko applies tag on runner attempting to score.
By Sean Reilly
The Hamilton A’s Elite 10U didn’t just win a game on Saturday morning at Diamond Nation. The youngsters from Mercer County also learned a few lessons along the way.
The A’s gained an opening-day split at the 10U Halloween Bash by defeating the NY Gothams, 13-1, in five innings in Flemington.
The A’s came into the tournament short handed, since several players were absent due to playoff football obligations.
Their absence was felt during the first game of the morning, a 13-3 loss to the Diamond Jacks 10U.
The A’s then had an instant turnaround to face the Gothams. In the process, they learned a great lesson about perseverance, along with the importance of clearing the earlier outcome from their minds, especially with some of their buddies not on hand.
Members of the A’s also learned how well they could perform in different roles because of the juggled lineup.
Most notable in that department was starting pitcher Blake Kozlowski, who had minimal mound work during the fall season.
Kozlowski overcame some nervousness to pitch a two-hitter, with 11 strikeouts and two walks, in leading the A’s to the victory.
It was no wonder that the right-hander tossed his glove into the air after striking out the side in the fifth to end the game.
“I’ve only pitched one inning this entire season,” said Kozlowski, who did throw in games during the summer, but had played mostly right field, third base and second base in the fall. “This feels great. Three of our main guys had other stuff, so my coach told me I was starting the second game. I was excited, and then I threw a complete game.”
He may have also been a bit nervous at the outset, but he was able to throw strikes from the get-go. He opened the game by getting a ground out followed by two strikeouts in the first inning.
“I felt very confident after that,” he said.
Tyler Warner of Hamilton A’s beats throw to plate after Elias Almonte hit grounder to shortstop.
The A’s were retired in 1-2-3 fashion in both the first and second innings, but then erupted for five runs in the top of the third.
The inning began with back-to-back full-count walks to Jack Flynn and Tyler Warner. After a pitching change, Brandon Quinn hit a single to center that loaded the bases.
With Elias Almonte at the plate, a wild pitch scored Flynn with the first run. Almonte followed with a grounder to shortstop. The throw went to the plate, but Warner was safe for a 2-0 lead.
A walk to Kozlowski re-loaded the bases, and an infield hit to third base by Shane Perez scored Flynn. Mike Osadacz drew an RBI walk, and A.J. Krywenko hit a sacrifice fly to center for the fifth run.
The NY Gothams, who finished the day 0-2, scored their run in the third. Dasher Cleary tripled to left field on a full count with one out, and he scored when next-batter Derek Gutierrez grounded out to second base.
The A’s tacked on four more runs in the fourth, getting a one-out bases-loaded walk to Kozlowski, followed by a three-run triple from Perez for a 9-1 lead, closing out his 2-for-3, four RBI performance.
Blake Kozlowski reacts with excitement after the final out in his two-hit, 11K performance for A’s.
The remaining four runs came in the fifth. An error scored the first run, Flynn singled in the next run, a wild pitch scored another and Quinn added an RBI groundout.
Flynn and Warner – the seventh and eighth batters in the A’s nine-man lineup – both scored three runs in three plate appearances. Flynn was 2-for-3 with a walk, while Warner walked three times.
“This was good for them,” said A’s coach Anthony Krywenko. “Everyone had to step up. Blake really stepped up. This game was nice. It built up confidence after the first game.”