Drew Lichtenberger of the Taconic Rangers eyes a pitch against 9ers Baseball Club.
By Luis Torres
Drew Lichtenberger got to second base and thought to himself his running was over.
Taconic Rangers South’s extra hitter and catcher had just hit a ball over the center fielder’s head with the bases loaded and figured he’d finish by standing up at second base. Coach Greg Delmonico had other ideas.
After a misplay in center field, Delmonico urged Lichtenberger to get on his horse as he waved him around second and into third. Delmonico continued to wave Lichtenberger around third and sent him home. Ninety feet later, Lichtenberger slid safely into home, pushing Taconic Rangers South’s lead to nine in the top of the fourth inning.
It was the highlight of a huge inning as Taconic Rangers South rolled to a 27-6 win in four innings over 9ers Baseball Club 15U in the 15U Diamond Nation World Series on Wednesday.
“I hit it, and the (center fielder) stood there, and I thought he was going catch it, but I was like, ‘That ball is smoked. That’s over his head. No doubt,’” Lichtenberger said. “I got to second and said, ‘No more running for me,’ so I started jogging. And then (coach Delmonico) told me to go home, and I had to turn the jets back on.
“I flew around those bases. I’m like Trea Turner.”
Lichtenberger got a cheer from his teammates when he slid into home, relishing the moment for a couple of seconds as he tried to gather himself. He said his legs hurt a bit rounding the bases and that his elbow hurt a bit.
It was worth clearing the basepaths and putting the game out of reach.
“I needed an oxygen mask,” Lichtenberger joked. “I got hit in the elbow earlier in the game. When I slid, I kind of hit my elbow and it hurt. But the energy was up, and it felt great.”
“He’s a catcher, so he’s not the fastest guy in the world, but once the ball went over the first cutoff man, I thought it was a no-brainer for him,” added Delmonico.
He wasn’t the only player on Taconic Rangers South who got a cheer from his team when scampering around the bases.
In the second inning, first baseman Logan Crilly smacked a two-run triple to give his team an 8-3 lead after Taconic Rangers South entered the inning down 3-1. Crilly, who is imposing at his size for the 15U level, went 1-for-2 with three runs scored and two RBI.
“I’m used to being down here. The turf plays fast so it doesn’t necessarily matter how big, how slow, how much you lumber, you’ll get there,” Delmonico said.
The offensive outburst was a drastic difference from how the first inning went when 9ers Baseball Club 15U took a 3-1 lead after taking advantage of some sloppy defense from Delmonico’s club.
But the Taconic Rangers South responded emphatically, scoring eight runs in the top of the second and a whopping 18 in the fourth frame to put the game out of reach.
“I think this is what I expect out of these guys,” Delmonico said. “Go up, have a good time. Represent the organization well. Hit the ball well and see what happens.”