Stefano DiGeronimo of the Diamond Jacks Gold 15U beats out grounder hit to third base.
By Sean Reilly
This weekend’s Fall Brawl at Diamond Nation is the final tournament of the year for the PA Shockers 15U.
As such, everyone on the roster is looking to make the most of the three days in Flemington.
In Friday’s opening game, a 7-2 victory over the Diamond Jacks 15U Gold, one player did so by executing the two biggest plays of the game. And as a bonus, one was with his glove and the other with his bat.
Connor Murray, the shortstop and cleanup hitter for the Shockers, made the defensive play of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning by fielding a ground ball and throwing out the would-be go-ahead run at the plate. And in the top of the fifth, his solo home run with two out broke a 2-2 deadlock and sent his team on its way to a win.
“This was a great game for me, and all of my teammates played well,” Murray said. “This was a great team win. I love to help my team win. This is our last tournament, so we’re going all out. I’m going all out, too. Anything to help my team win.”
The Pennsylvania team has one prior tournament victory this fall, and totaled eight hits in opening this one with a victory.
They had to overcome an early deficit against the Diamond Jacks, who took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Stefano DiGeronimo reached on a one-out error, Blake McGagg walked and Chase Woodring singled before Andre Lucas Milciukas hit a sacrifice fly to center field on a full count.
The Shockers loaded the bases in the top of the second on a leadoff single in front of the plate by Trent Lutz, a full-count walk to Timmy Croyle with two out and then a hit-by-pitch with Asher Franklin at the plate. Jagger Verbit was also hit by a pitch to score Lutz for a 1-1 tie.
The Diamond Jacks used one-out walks to Adriel Calicchio, Jake Masterson and Peyton Keller to load the bases in the second inning, before Owen Keough also walked to bring in a run.
The Shockers tied it again in the third. Carson Glose, who ended 2-for-3 with a walk, led off with a single to left field and stole second with Murray at the plate.
Murray, who ended 2-for-4, was safe on a ball hit to the left side of the infield with Glose reading the play well to successfully advance to third.
Carson Glose of PA Shockers moves to third as teammate Connor Murray is safe at first on infield hit.
Murray tried to steal second, but was out in a protracted rundown that allowed Glose to score for a 2-2 tie.
The Diamond Jacks, who had a runner erased in a long rundown between second and third in the bottom of the third, threatened again in the fourth.
Luke Palermo led off that inning with a triple to left field, and after a strikeout, Calicchio hit a hard grounder toward the middle that was fielded well by a ranging Murray. Palermo broke for home, but Murray threw a bullet to catcher Ethan McMenamin, who made a fine catch and tag for the out.
“We were playing half way, the ball was up the middle and I was kind of just going toward the middle,” Murray said. “I went home and threw it a little low, but Ethan made a great catch and great tag.”
Murray made his next impact play in the top of the fifth.
After the first two batters flew out to center field, he took a full-count pitch and sent it into the netting above the fence in left field.
“I was just looking for something to smash there, and I got it,” he said.
The Shockers added one more run in the inning. Lutz (2-for-4) followed with a triple to center field, and scored on a ball four wild pitch with Finn Bachman at the plate.
The Shockers extended the lead with a two-run sixth inning. Verbit led off with a walk, and scored as Gavin Wisnoski tripled to right-center. Glose then hit an RBI single to right field.
The final run scored in the seventh. Bachman hit a one-out double to left field, stole third and scored when the catcher’s throw went into left field.