S.J. Peel slides home safely for the Crew ahead of the tag from Outlaws catcher Devin Prince.
By Rich Bevensee
Inclement weather has cost the Northern Westchester Outlaws 11U club a lot of game time, but from the looks of the team with just six games under its belt, generating offense does not seem to be an issue.
With young slugger Devin Prince batting leadoff, the Outlaws stormed into Diamond Nation in Flemington and served notice to any 11U squad paying attention that they had better swing some lumber if they want to compete with the New York club.
Prince went 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI and the Outlaws edged Hudson Baseball Center 10U Crew, 11-8, to sweep its Saturday doubleheader in the 11U Fall Harvest at The Nation.
The Outlaws, who began their afternoon with a 14-8 verdict over Toms River Bombers Elite, wowed coach Jason Finney by scoring 25 runs in two games in their first tournament of the fall.
“We were struggling at the plate to start the season but we kind of put it together here,” Finney said. “This is a newly-built team so a lot of guys are trying to gel with each other, but they’re clicking today.”
“We’re seeing what we can do but we can get better,” said the Outlaws’ Dom Suriano, who chalked up a pair of RBI doubles.
The Outlaws, a two-year old program which trains at Gap2Gap Sports Performance in Mahopac, N.Y., earned the top playoff seed in the four-team pool and were set to face the fourth-seeded Crew on Sunday at 8 a.m.
The second-seeded Bombers played third-seeded Diamond Jacks 11U in the other semi. The championship game was scheduled for 10 a.m.
Prince, probably the biggest Outlaw in the lineup, demonstrated he was the best hitter in either dugout in the Outlaws’ second game. He singled in his first at bat in the first inning, doubled to right center in the third and doubled to center to drive in a run in the fifth. Both doubles were hard hit balls that Crew outfielders could not cut off before they skidded to the outfield fence.
“My dad (Billy) and my brother (Rahul) taught me how to hit,” Prince said. “They taught me to put your hips into the ball because if you don’t, it’s going to be a lazy ground ball or pop fly.”
“In baseball, Devin is what we call a unicorn,” Finney said. “You can play him wherever you want. Put him anywhere in the lineup and he’s gonna get a hit. He bats leadoff because I gotta’ maximize his at bats. He’s the best player around in 11U.”
Prince said he doesn’t mind batting in the one hole for the Outlaws even though he’s easily the best power hitter on the team and those types of hitters normally hit in the 3, 4 or 5 holes in the lineup.
“I like it because I get to get up to bat the most and I get to score the runs,” Prince said.
The Outlaws essentially put the game away with a three-run fourth inning after the Crew evened the score at 4-4 in the top of the inning.
The damage was done with three straight batters. Gus Valentino drove in Cam Koretsky with a sacrifice fly to break the tie, Suriano doubled to center to score Maddox Meladosi (2-for-3) with the go-ahead run, and Joe Mayes doubled into the right field corner to score Suriano for a 7-4 lead.
The Outlaws’ Gus Valentino drives in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.
After the Crew picked up a run in the fifth to make it a two-run game, the Outlaws added four more runs to cement the victory. Prince had an RBI double to center and later scored on a wild pitch. Gio Valerio tripled to right center to drive in Prince, and Koretsky added an RBI single for an 11-5 cushion.
Second baseman Mayes turned in what will probably be the defensive gem of the tournament. The Crew had just scored to open the game and had runners on first and second with none out when Carlos Padron lined a shot up the middle. Mayes leaped to his right to make the catch and, without rising to his feet, pounced on second base to double up the runner.
“Based on what I’ve seen, I think we can compete with just about anyone in the 11U age group right now,” Finney said.
Suriano pitched four innings for the Outlaws and allowed four runs on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts. Koretsky pitched the last two.
For the Crew, Erick Borbon doubled and drove in a run. Miles Conover doubled, Henry Arias had an RBI single, and Luke Grant, Jackson Goldberg and Griff Baumwall each drove in a run.