Andrew Young delivers an RBI single for Wladyka Continental 14U on Saturday.
By Rich Bevensee
It wasn’t easy performing in the cold, misty weather which drenched Diamond Nation in Flemington on Saturday, but Brian Krantz found a way.
The Wladyka Continental 14U right-hander seemed unfazed by the conditions more suited for a November football game. When he wasn’t buzzing through batters, he was escaping trouble by pitching to contact and getting a big assist from his defense.
Krantz pitched a two-hit shutout with two walks and seven strikeouts to pace Wladyka to a 6-0, four-inning victory over New Jersey Rising Rebels 14U Blue in pool play of the Williams Harley Davidson Tournament on Saturday afternoon at ‘The Nation.’
“In the beginning it was hard to pitch because it was colder and raining more, but as the game went on I felt pretty good,” Krantz said. “I also warmed up pretty well, knowing it would be hard to pitch today. I put my full effort into that.”
Andrew Young, Gabe Carter and Anthony Alonge provided RBI singles for Wladyka (1-0), which has two pool play games on Sunday (against Total Skills Baseball and Locked In Expos) before the tournament semifinals begin.
The Rebels (0-1) will also face Locked In Expos and Total Skills Baseball on Sunday.
RBI singles by Young and Carter helped boost Wladyka to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Rowan Trepicchio and Alonge crossed in the third inning for a 5-0 lead. Alonge added an RBI single in the fourth before the game clock expired. Games were reduced by 10 minutes to 1 hour, 40 minutes to account for the inclement weather.
“Obviously nobody wants to be out here, so mentally we have to deal with it,” said Wladyka coach Brian Makely, who doubles as a Don Bosco Prep assistant. “We scored runs in the first on walks, so they made our job easier for us. And we were trying to get them to put the ball in play and if we can’t defend, we don’t deserve to win. Today we did a pretty good job of that, making plays behind him (Krantz).”
Krantz’s concentration level was apparent in his ability to strand five baserunners in scoring position.
Krantz walked the first batter of the game, Jaden Penaloza, but stranded him at third on a fly ball and a pair of ground outs. With two outs in the second inning he surrendered a walk and single but maintained the shutout with a strikeout.
After striking out the side in the third inning, Krantz evaded trouble again in the fourth. He gave up a two-out infield single to Oliver Lazarus, who moved to third on an error, but that’s where the threat ended because Krantz got a strikeout to end the inning.
“He was dialed in, making adjustments pitch-to-pitch, batter-to-batter,” Makely said. “He used all of his pitches pretty well, and he had good control for a 14-year old kid. That’s why he was successful.”
Wladyka was making its tournament debut, and Makely said Krantz was the perfect player to lead the charge. Krantz, an eighth grader who’s headed for DePaul Catholic High School next fall, carries four pitches on his tool belt but said he employed his fastball for 90 percent of his pitches on Saturday.
“I was mainly using the fastball and the two-seam was working a little bit,” said the 6-1, 145-pound righty. “I have a curveball and change but I didn’t feel a need to throw those because they weren’t hitting my fastball.”
“I know he fell behind a few batters early but once he got comfortable and in command of his pitches he was on cruise control from there,” Makely said. “He did a fantastic job attacking the strike zone.”
Makely knows a little bit about pitching, having pitched at Centenary College and coached pitchers at Ramapo College.