The life of a 10 year-old usually isn’t very complicated, but when you are standing in the batter’s box with the bases loaded and the winning run on third base the world can speed up.
But Domenic Abate was able to slow things down and keep it simple at a time his team needed him most. Abate latched onto a chest high fastball and looped it into left field, sending Peyton Andrie tearing home with the winning run for a wild 9-8 victory over the Diamond Jacks 10U.
Abate’s clutch single delivered the 10U Youth World Series championship for Legends Baseball on Monday afternoon at Diamond Nation. Legends Baseball (5-0) struck for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to erase an 8-6 deficit as the Diamond Jacks failed to record an out.
The first four batters in the sixth singled for Legends Baseball before Dylan Lenhart was intentionally walked ahead of Abate, who promptly delivered his second clutch hit of the game. “It was an 0-1 pitch and I was looking for anything in the strike zone,” said Abate. “The pitch was down the middle and at the letters.”
John Eddis ignited the winning rally with a leadoff single to left field and took second as the ball was misplayed. Antonio Causerano then reached on an infield single, sending Eddis to third base. Andrie hit a ball that Diamond Jack pitcher Jake Masterson lunged for but it tipped off his glove for another infield hit. Eddis scored on the hit to shave the deficit to 8-7. Braedon DeAngelis then tied the game with a single down the left field line. Andrie raced to third and DeAngelis took second on the throw in.
The Diamond Jacks walked Lenhart to set up the force everywhere but Abate had other ideas.
“I just wanted to win it for my team,” said Abate (2-for-3, 3 RBI). “I saw the shortstop go after it, but when he couldn’t reach the ball it was the best moment in my life, probably.” At worst it was a day-maker for Abate and his teammates, who stormed the field in celebration.
The Diamond Jacks struck for four runs in the top of the first inning and three runs in the third to take a 7-2 lead, but Legends Baseball kept pecking away to keep itself in the game. The Gloucester County-based program would score in every inning except the first.
“The boys have been hitting well,” said Legends Baseball coach Anthony Causerano. “A lot of our focus is on two-strike hitting. It’s something we practice non-stop.” Legends Baseball had four two-strike hits in its final bat alone before Abate delivered the decisive hit on an 0-1 pitch.
The Diamond Jacks (4-2), which also lost an 8-6 game to Legends Baseball in the first game of pool play on Saturday, had tacked on what looked like a big insurance run in the top of the sixth. Tommy Denvir and Brody Gulbin drew a pair of one-out walks around a single by Reid Bazyldo to load the bases and Michael Basile brought the run home on a sac fly to center field.
The Diamond Jacks built its early lead off a big first inning in which it rapped out six hits. Jackson Lewis had an RBI double, and Anthony Caruso, Bazyldo and Basile followed with RBI singles. But Legends Baseball shaved that lead in half in the second when Abate followed Lenhart’s one-out double with a two-run single to center.
“Domenic has kept at it and given everything he has,” said Causerano. “It’s been challenging because we play a high level of ball and the competition is very tough. He is a selfless player, which is what we preach.”
Masterson (3-for-4, RBI, run) and Lewis (2-for-4, 2 RBI, run) contributed RBI singles in the three-run third that staked the Diamond Jacks to a 7-2 lead. But Legends Baseball never backed down. Eddis had a sac fly and Dominic Liberati scored on the back end of a double steal attempt to draw their team within 7-4.
Legends Baseball inched closer with a run in the fourth on a wild pitch. It then closed to within 7-6 in the fifth when Bobby Butkus’ sac fly scored Luke Fraley from third.
The Diamond Jacks, which outhit Legends Baseball, 12-10, outscored their tournament opponents 57-41. Legends Baseball held a 52-34 runs advantage on its opponents.