By Will Harrigan
Having lost their initial contest, Northeast Sticks Baseball Nationals 14U squad got off to the wrong start in the Summer Bash at Diamond Nation this weekend.
But five games and two days later, the Sticks finished their weekend the right way. As champions.
Northeast Sticks put the capstone on the turnaround in a big way, running over Canes Tri-State by an 11-0 mercy rule margin on Sunday night. In winning the 16-team event, the Sticks outscored their opponents by a 50-11 margin. The Canes finished at 3-2.
Lucas Judson – who did not appear in the title game but pitched a three-hit gem to beat Bulldogs Baseball Academy 1-0 in the semis – garnered MVP honors for the champions. Since losing their opener to Biopitch Baseball in a 9-7 slugfest, Sticks pitching surrendered just two runs in its next five games.
“It’s a nice way to end our summer season by going out with a championship. We’ve played well all the way through, finished 25-11 overall. It was a lot of fun coaching these guys,” said Sticks coach Randy Delanoy.
A pair of two-out base hits ignited the offense in the first. A single off the bat of Alexander Jendras followed by a double by Brian Cservak got the Sticks going. A batter later, Cservak was seemingly caught in a rundown at third, but a throwing error allowed him to score the third run instead.
Jendras drove in another run in the second, as yet another two-out hit, an RBI single, brought in Lance Morgan to extend the lead to 4-0.
The common theme of two-out damage persisted in the third. With two men gone, Kayden Durkin singled to get aboard. Following a walk issued to nine-batter Logan Voltare, Morgan singled in both of them to boost the lead to 6-0.
Morgan took third on a wayward offering and then, along with the walked Zach Kantor, came around to score on a backbreaking, two-out Canes fielding mishap.
“We got aggressive at the plate. Our guys swung early in counts, made them play defense, and kept the pressure on them constantly,” Delanoy said. “That was key for us tonight.”
The champions put up another four-spot in the fourth to put things away for good. Following a pair of walks to start the inning, Nico Simou singled in Cservak to make it 9-0.
The game officially ended when Kantor roped a triple into right-center field gap to bring home three runs and set the mercy rule into effect.
Meanwhile, Sticks starter John Esposito was fabulous, tossing four innings of one-hit ball to go along with seven strikeouts. David Makowka’s infield single to lead off the fourth was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect outing by Esposito.