Kratzer’s new bat boosts Legit Baseball Club at 12U Mother’s Day Classic

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 14, 2023

John Kratzer of Legit Baseball is greeted by teammates Nick Rivera (21) and Vincent Daly after HR.

By Sean Reilly 

John Kratzer decided to try out a brand-new bat when his Legit Baseball Club team opened play at the Diamond Nation 12U Mother’s Day Classic on Friday night.

With his team facing an early two-run deficit, Kratzer came to the plate with two men on and nobody out in the bottom of the first inning. He proceeded to hit a shot over the fence in left center field, which sent his team on to an 8-4 victory in Flemington.

Legit Baseball Club, from Bergen County, stuck around Field 2 at ‘The Nation,’ for its next game, and defeated the Vernon Cyclones, 12-2, for a solid start in the event.

For Kratzer, it was also a solid start for his new equipment. He added an infield fly RBI later on to close out the opener 1-for-3 with four RBI.

“I’ve been swinging good,” he said. “I just got the new bat, and this was the first time in an in-game tournament. It gave me so much more pop.”

The South Jersey-based Heavy Hitters, who ended the night 0-2 after falling to Hustle Baseball Academy in their nightcap, scored twice in the top of the first.

Cooper Coles led off for the Heavy Hitters with a walk and stole second. He made a dash toward third on a pitch to Mike Baez, and kept going and scored as he grounded out to second. Mason Sanchez was safe on an infield hit. Baez was his courtesy runner and advanced to third on an error before Logan Pace hit a sacrifice fly to center.

Legit Baseball Club staged an immediate rally in the bottom of the inning, with leadoff man Vincent Daly reaching on an error before stealing second. Nick Rivera walked on a full count to set that stage for Kratzer, whose hit cleared the fence with ease.

Cooper Coles of Heavy Hitters rounds third to hustle home on Mike Baez’s ground out to second base.

“I knew we were going to come back after they took the lead,” Kratzer said. “Our bats really get going.”

The Heavy Hitters gained a 3-3 tie in the top of the second. The first two batters were retired on ground outs before Daniel Atanaiso singled to shortstop and then stole second after being caught in a rundown on a pickoff play. He scored when Josh Smith singled to right field.

Once again, Legit Baseball Club came right back in its half of the inning, this time with two runs for a 5-3 advantage.

Chris Terranova led off with a walk, and advanced to third after a wild pitch and passed ball. Damien Pierro walked and stole second with one out, and after another strikeout, Daly came to the plate and hit a fly ball to center field that was dropped, enabling both runners to score.

The Heavy Hitters got a run back in the fourth inning on what was almost a triple play.

With runners on first and third, a line out to shortstop resulted in the trailing runner being doubled off first. The lead runner tagged from the third in the meantime, and scored just ahead of a throw to the plate.

Legit Baseball Club once again answered the Heavy Hitters’ run with scoring of its own.

Brandon Gajewski led off the bottom of the fourth by reaching on an error. He stole second, and scored after two wild pitches.

Legit Baseball Club scored its last two runs before the 1:50 play clock expired while it was batting in the bottom of the fifth. Jackson McNeill drove in the first run with a double to left center, and he scored on Kratzer’s infield fly which wound up being the last play of the game.

Brennan Van Der Horn was the starter and winning pitcher for Legit Baseball Club, with McNeill closing out the victory.

“It’s always good to start with a win,” Kratzer said. “Our bats came alive, we played good defense and our pitchers threw great.”

Legit Baseball Club continued play against Hustle Baseball Club on Saturday night. With both teams 2-0, the winner will finish first in Pool C and advance to the playoffs on Sunday.

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