NJ Renegades batter Gavin Neigel legs out grounder against Pioneers Baseball.
By Sean Reilly
Mike DeLorenzo, coach of the NJ Renegades 10U team, has been trying to get a message through to his players throughout its spring campaign.
“We’ve been telling them from the very beginning that we want them to get tough,” he said. “If we’re going to win games, if we’re going to lose games, we want them to play the right way and we want them to get tough more than anything else.”
The Wyckoff-based team showed that grit in the bottom of the sixth inning of its pool play contest against Pioneers Baseball from Plymouth Meeting, Pa. on Saturday morning in the Spring Fever Tournament at Diamond Nation.
Trailing by three runs going into the inning and with the leadoff batter retired on a ground out, the Renegades scored three times before the game ended in a 6-6 tie in Flemington.
The tying hit was a two-out single to left field by Sam Broder. He punched a 2-2 curveball into the outfield to score Ethan DeLorenzo, whose two-run single to right field with two-out got the Renegades within a run. Broder was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double, which ended the well-played game in the tie.
“That was a great at-bat,” coach DeLorenzo said about Broder’s clutch single. “Their pitchers were fantastic. It was a curveball, a very difficult pitch, and all he did was stick his bat out and fortunately it dropped.”
Both teams were coming off victories in their opening games earlier in the morning. The Renegades defeated the Morris County Cubs, 7-0, while Pioneers Baseball opened with a 17-1 triumph over Bakes Brewers. They’ll each go into their final pool game on Sunday tied for first place.
Pioneers Baseball held a 6-2 lead over the Renegades after Austin Meehan singled in a run, Nick Brosso doubled in another and Michael Bramowski added an RBI groundout in the top of the fifth.
Pioneers Baseball got a great effort from starting pitcher Archer Pekula, who allowed three runs while working into the fifth inning. He had 10 strikeouts, and showed poise in the hot weather along the way.
The Renegades had runners on first and second when he ended the first inning with his third strikeout, and the Bergen County team had the bases loaded and a 3-0 count on a batter with two out in the fourth. He battled back to get a strikeout for a scoreless frame to protect what was then a 3-2 lead.
“We had to cut him off there because of his pitch count,” said Pioneers coach Mark Slavin, who noted his team was without two of its best players due to injuries. “He pitches really well for us.”
The Pioneers have been seeking top-flight competition, which they’ve found this spring at places like Diamond Nation.
“We were down at Ripken last week and got the one seed but then lost in the semifinals,” Slavin said. “We’ve been playing here and at Ripken, we haven’t done any cupcake tournaments. We’re trying to play good competition.”
That’s the approach that NJ Renegades are taking as well.
“The competition was great,” DeLorenzo said. “That’s a fantastic team. This is a great tournament and we’re really happy to be here. We want them to play hard, and that’s what we did.”