Kyler Ackert hit a three-run triple to fuel the Hayner Academy Barnstormers.
By Rich Bevensee
It wasn’t too long ago that the Hayner Academy Barnstormers 15U ballclub was the victim of a no-hitter. It was just two games into its summer club season.
The Barnstormers have made major strides, mentally and physically, since then. For evidence, look no further than their 8-0 pool play victory over the Prodigy Hitmen in the 15U Diamond Nation World Series on Wednesday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
Hayner’s crew received a two-hit, five-inning shutout from Colin Mack, a rising sophomore at Saratoga Springs (N.Y.) High, who’d been batting a stomach virus all week and was questionable for the game.
The team also benefited from a three-run triple by Kyler Ackert, a rising sophomore at Guilderland Center (N.Y.), who recently overcame a hitting slump to break the game open and help the team rebound from a one-run loss the day before.
“The fact of the matter is, it (the no-hitter) is probably the best thing that could have happened to us,” said Barnstormers coach Norm Hayner, who runs the Hayner Sports Barn, a training facility in Halfmoon, N.Y., just north of Albany. “We told the kids, good will come out of this.”
“We’ve gotten a lot better,” Ackert said. “We’re on track now.”
Hayner repeated his message of hope after the Barnstormers lost a tough 3-2 decision to Hustle Baseball Academy Navy on Tuesday.
“It’s very important that we won today because our guys were very upset after that loss yesterday,” Hayner said. “They care. They work hard. I reminded them that the seeds of your victories are sewn in your defeats, and vice versa. We switched some things up and moved the batting order around, and the guys really responded.”
Mack and Hitmen starter Max Payne traded scoreless innings before the Barnstormers struck for five runs in the bottom of the third inning. Jack Rigabar and Adam Sherman stroked back-to-back RBI singles and three batters later, Ackert cranked the hardest hit of the game, a bases-clearing triple to center.
After Mack set the Hitmen down in order in the fourth, the Barnstormers scored three more to set up the mercy-rule ending. Max Palermo, the No. 9 hitter, walked, reached second on an infield error and scored on a wild pitch. Rigabar and Sherman repeated their third-inning effort with consecutive RBI singles.
The Hitmen were bidding to spoil Mack’s shutout bid in the top of the fifth by pushing runners to second and third with one out, but Mack induced an infield fly and a strikeout to cap his terrific outing.
Max Palermo, the Barnstormers’ No. 9 hitter, scores on Jack Rigabar’s RBI single.
Mack said it was easily his most dominant outing of the summer, and his best since he and Sherman combined for a no-hitter in school ball. Hayner said he sent a reliever to the bullpen in the second inning in case Mack felt he had to remove himself from the game.
“It was tough today to get through it,” Mack said of fighting off the queasiness of an upset stomach. “I was sick before we left home, not super sick, but when we got down here I wasn’t 100 percent, and I still ended up getting through it. I started to feel sick during the second or third inning, but I just wanted to fight through it and do anything to help our team win.”
Ackert’s triple, his first of the season, was a sign his hitting may be rounding back into form.
“I haven’t been hitting the past couple games,” said the 6-4, 180-pound Ackert. “So I was just trying to make solid contact and trying to work up the middle. It felt good off the bat and I knew it was a well hit ball.”
The Barnstormers continue pool play on Thursday with a game against Philadelphia Prime at 4:30 p.m., and conclude with a contest against Northeast Supreme 15U Regional on Friday at 10 a.m.
The Hitmen (1-1), who defeated the FBA Jays, 10-5, on Tuesday, will face Hustle Baseball Academy Navy on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., and Diamond Jacks 15U Gold on Friday at 8 a.m.