Canes Black 14U pitcher Liam Brody gets set to deliver a pitch in Easter Extravaganza pool play.
By Will Harrigan
A game between two teams close in talent level is usually decided by who makes the big play, and with it, the momentum.
Jaden Leshinsky delivered both for his Canes NJ/NY Black 14U squad on Friday in the Easter Extravaganza tournament at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
With the bases juiced and one man out, Leshinsky cleared everything out with a three-run double in the first inning, propelling Canes Black to an 9-2 victory over Out of the Park Cyclones 14U in pool play.
With this victory and an earlier triumph over Hillsborough Raiders Gold, the Canes have locked up the Pool C spot in Saturday’s playoffs before the round robin finishes up in the morning.
Leshinsky’s shot staked the winners to an early 3-0 lead they would never relinquish.
“We actually sat (Jaden) out the first game. It worked because a blast like that just shows the damage he can do when he’s locked in,” said Canes coach Ed Thomas.
Canes center fielder Nasir Stevenson led off the home first with a double to get the rally going. Following a recorded out, Xavier Diaz and J.C. Pacheco would each walk to load the bases, setting up Leshinsky’s moment.
The run support would be all Canes Black starter Liam Brody needed on the day.
Tossing six innings of two-hit ball, Brody only surrendered two runs in the top of the third in an otherwise strong performance. He fanned six Cyclones batters without giving any free passes on the day.
“Liam is lights out. He’s the guy you want on the mound when you have a game you need to win like this one,” Thomas said.
The Cyclones pulled two within 3-2 on the strength of the bottom of its lineup in the third.
Thomas Jacinski and Xavier Vega each singled to put two men aboard for the Green Brook-based Cyclones.
An RBI single off the bat of Joe Kaecker trimmed the deficit to 3-1, and Vega would come around to score a batter later on a fielder’s choice grounder off Ryan Saccitetti’s bat.
Canes Black would start to rebuild their lead in the bottom of the inning when Diaz scored on a throwing error by the Cyclones catcher, bringing the advantage back up to 4-2.
Stevenson and Cardozo would each drive in runs with RBI singles in the fourth, bringing the winners back up to 6-2 as the game moved into the middle innings.
Brody would help his own cause by grounding in a run in the fifth, while Max Kelly would launch a triple into deep left field to drive in a run as part of a three-run fifth.
Kaecker had the only multi-hit day at the dish for the Cyclones, while no Canes players pulled the trick. Diaz did reach base three times, however, drawing another free pass in addition to a single.
The Cyclones – now unable to advance out of pool play – defeated the Garden State Rebels, 11-1, in their opener.
In a game that’s no longer a must win, Canes Black will close out pool play against the Rebels at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Thomas says his team will take a practical approach before semifinal action gets underway in the afternoon.
“We’re going to have fun and play stress-free in the first game, but we need to keep our focus for the playoffs.”