Long Island Titans second baseman Cody Miller flips to first baseman Jason Campo.
The Long Island Body Armor Titans (DeMichael) were locked in a pitchers duel with the talented Virginia Cardinals when bang, bang, bang, the Titans suddenly dropped the hammer in the bottom of sixth inning to put this Super 17 Invitational game away.
Reliever Chase Gayness had gotten the first two batters in the inning as he endeavored to keep the Cardinals close in a 2-1 game. But Gayness allowed a single by Cody Miller then plunked Derek Torres with a pitch to bring up the Titans dangerous Nos. 3 and 4 hitters.
Kyle Chase then beat left fielder Isaiah Lucero with a long double to the fence that brought Miller home from second and got Torres to third. Up stepped Jimmy Keenan, who had already blasted a leadoff home run in the second inning to stake the Titans to a 1-0 lead. Keenan quickly got into a favorable 2-0 count.
“I was just looking to get a pitch out front at that point,” said Keenan, a St. John’s University commit.
Keenan got exactly that and drove the offering the opposite way for nearly his second home run of the game. But Keenan settled for a two-run double when the ball slammed off the right field wall and the Titans lead ballooned to 5-1. “The two extra runs helped a lot,” said Keenan.
Titans reliever Randy Ramnarace was able to wriggly out of a big jam in the top of the sixth after walking Eric McDaniel, Jalen Greenidge and Lucero with one out and his team clinging to that 2-1 advantage. The Cardinals No. 3 hitter, Jaden Greenidge, worked the count to 3-1 but his hard bouncer in the middle of the diamond was quickly turned into an inning-ending double play by shortstop Jared Cohen. Cohen caught the grounder, stepped on second and fired to first to extinguish the Cardinals rally.
Titans coach Bobby DeMichael came out to chat with Ramnarace before the double play.
“My message to him was ‘you are one good pitch from getting out of this,’” said DeMichael. “We certainly got what we wanted there.”
The Cardinals (2-2-1) tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third inning. Jackson Rowe singled with one out, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Andrew Brown’s fielder’s choice grounder. After McDaniel, the No. 11 hitter, drew a walk to flip the lineup to the top, Jalen Greenidge ripped a single through the left side to score Rowe and tie it up.
The Titans manufactured a run in the bottom of the third to retake the lead at 2-1. Cohen drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and took third on an errant pick off attempt at second. Tyler Sausville then lifted a high pop to shallow left-center field. Left fielder Lucero ran a long way for it and appeared to make a terrific sliding grab. But the ball slipped free of his glove allowing Cohen to score.
Keenan’s home run in the second came on a 3-2 pitch and concluded an outstanding 10-pitch at bat in style.
“He threw me three straight fastballs then hung a curveball,” said Keenan. “It was just there and I reacted.” Keenan hit a no-doubt-about-it shot well over the left field fence for the first run of the game.
The 6-2, 210-pound Keenan hit two other long home runs in the Super 17 Invitational this week. One was an oppo shot into the woods beyond the right field fence on Field 4. The other meteor sailed over the left field fence on Field 7 and onto River Road, which is about 75 feet beyond the fence.
Titans’ starter Jake Moss, who is committed to University of Penn, limited the Cardinals to one run on three hits over five strong innings. He struck out six and walked two and retired the last seven batters he faced.
Jalen Greenidge permitted two runs on four hits in five gritty innings of work, striking out three and walking two. Greenidge was essentially playing catch with twin brother Jaden, the Virginia Cardinals’ catcher.
Miller, Chase and Keenan each went 2-for-3 for the Titans. The Cardinals got all three of their hits in the third inning. Lucero had one of those hits for the Virginia team.
With a day left in Week 2 of the Super 17 Invitational showcase, the Long Island Body Armor Titans (DeMichael) are tied for third place in the overall standings at 5-0 and with a 32-9 runs differential with Locked in Expos 2021s (5-0, 32-9). They trail second place TTS Scout (5-0, 30-6) and their sister program at the top of the standings, the Long Island Body Armor Titans-Quattrini (49-6).
One team with a game remaining on Friday in tournament play — CB Raiders (4-0, 38-4) — has an opportunity to move up in the standings. In fact, if CB Raiders win their game tomorrow and hold their opponent to one run or less, they will finish the week atop the overall standings. Super 17 teams play a maximum of five games.