Righthander Sam Morris provided the stifling arm and Daniel Orrigo much of the thunder as the DBA Sandhogs defeated the BBA Expos, 3-0, in the 16U Summer Bash championship game last night at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
Morris pitched a two-hit shutout, striking out seven and walking one in a tidy performance that saw the Expos put two runners on base in just one inning. The rising junior from Spring City, Pa. flashed a mid-80s fastball and a deadly changeup he leaned on liberally.
Orrigo was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for shooting rockets all around the Diamond Nation diamonds the past three days. The third baseman rocked a pair of triples, drove in a run and scored twice in the championship game alone.
“Daniel started out a little slow in the tournament then he found his swing and really hit the ball hard,” said DBA Sandhogs coach Rich DeLucia.
Morris had to be zoned in because BBA Expos’ righthander Austin Beard, a rising junior at Toms River South High School, put forth a gritty effort in which he permitted three runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits, struck out none and walked one. The Expos consist of predominantly Toms River boys.
Morris, in fact, didn’t surrender a hit until Brandon Valles lined a single to center field with two outs in the fifth inning. Nat Obeng’s leadoff single to left in the sixth would be the Expos only other hit.
“My fastball was big for me today,” said Morris. “But so was my changeup. I threw a lot of them. I started them with two fastballs and went to the change. I only threw a few curveballs.”
Morris’ changeup has late break that not only throws off a batter’s timing but gets a lot of swings and misses. Obeng was the only batter to reach base against Morris in the first three innings and that was due to an infield error in the third.
The Sandhogs scored the first run of the game in the second inning without the benefit of a hit. Orrigo led off and was hit by a Beard pitch. He stole second and moved to third when Daniel Troche reached on an infield error. Orrigo easily scored when Louis Lombardi hit a slow fielder’s choice bouncer over third base.
Orrigo led off again in the fourth but this time let his bat do the bruising, launching a long rainbow over the head of center fielder Valles for an easy triple. Beard nearly worked out of the pickle but Lombardi delivered Orrigo again with a laser to left field that went for a sac fly and a 2-0 lead.
Rueben Livingston, the Sandhogs’ No. 3 hitter, lined a single to left field with two outs in the fifth to give the team’s clean-up hitter, Orrigo, another chance to do some damage. Orrigo obliged, this time ripping a shot into right-center field for another triple that chased Livingston home and extended the lead to 3-0.
Morris’ only shaky inning was the sixth and that was triggered by Obeng’s leadoff single to left. Paul DeLuca drew a one-out walk and Obeng stole third as Morris got the second out of the inning via a nasty breaking ball in the dirt. But, with the Expos a hit away from quickly making things interesting, Morris induced the leadoff hitter to pop out to the catcher Troche in front of the plate.
“You can see Sam take it up a notch when those two runners got on base,” said DeLucia. “He shut them down.”
As strong and resilient as Morris looked through six innings, he ratcheted up his fastball and gave his changeup a bit more bite in the seventh, striking out the first two batters with the off-speed pitch on just seven pitches before getting a come-backer for a 1-2-3 inning that wrapped up the championship.
NOTES: Expos shortstop David Ventura (Toms River North) made two pretty plays fielding grounders in the middle of the diamond before gunning the runner out at first base. … Left fielder Ryan Baker (Toms River North) did a nice job running down a deep shot by Livingston in the third inning … The Expos’ Mikey Florie (Toms River East) had a busy day, handling five challenging plays at third base. … The Sandhogs (5-1) outscored their tournament opponents 34-9. The Expos held a 29-14 runs advantage on their opponents.