Conquering the Titans proved a long and difficult order but the NY Prospects found a way, primarily with a very noisy display of hitting that carried it to a wild 13-11 victory in the 12U Summer Finale last night at Diamond Nation.
“We’ve played well all year, so this was a great way to go out this summer,” said NY Prospects coach Anthony Capo.
Capo’s boys struck for four runs in the top of the sixth that appeared to be no more than window dressing as the rally extended their lead to 13-7. But the Connecticut Titans had no interest in folding their tents without a fight and struck for four runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth to draw within 13-11. But, with the tying run on second, NY Prospects reliever Aidan Colasante induced a pop up to end the game.
Colasante was the NY Prospects’ third pitcher in the game as Capo attempted to piece together six innings in the championship game with what remained of his available staff.
“That was Aidan’s first time out of the pen for us,” said Capo. “We had guys going full games earlier in the tournament so we’d have some available arms in this one.”
Despite falling into a 7-2 hole before its third at bat, NY Prospects would find its way back in the game. Ryan Gabianelli laced a two-run double in the first inning and Tyler Waterbury crushed a grand slam to right field in a five-run second to help stake the Titans to that five-run bulge. The righty hitting Waterbury hit an opposite field laser that just cleared the right field wall.
Vincent DeGrado (3-for-4, RBI, run) singled home Jacob Saladis in the third inning to trim the Titans’ lead to 7-3 before the NY Prospects erupted for six runs in the top of the fourth to grab a 9-7 lead. Vincent Bardone triggered the rally with a one-out infield single and he would score on a bloop single to left field by Colasante. That brought leadoff batter Saladis to the plate with two runners aboard. The third baseman lifted a deep fly ball to left field that just kept carrying over the fence for a clutch game-tying three-run home run.
“That was Jake’s first career home run and it was awesome to do it in that spot,” said Capo. “It’s not easy coming back when you are down 7-2 but Jake came up big.”
Saladis was named the 12U Summer Finale co-Most Valuable Player with teammate Andrew Marquis, the team’s No. 3 hitter. “Andrew had a bunch of big hits this weekend, too,” Capo said.
John Harrington and Marquis drew walks after Saladis’ home run and DeGrado followed with a single to left field to score Harrington and give NY Prospects their first lead, 8-7. Marquis would score later in the inning on a wild pitch to push the advantage to 9-7.
Marquis (3-for-3, walk, 2 RBI, 2 runs) singled home Harrington in the top of the sixth, Kyle Senk brought a run home on a fielder’s choice grounder, another run scored on an errant pickoff attempt and Omar Abuzarich drove home a run with single to right field to extend the lead to 13-7. That four-run tack-on would prove valuable when the gritty Titans came to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
And the Titans would do much of their damage in the sixth with two outs.
Andrew Rondino led off the bottom of the sixth for the Titans with a single to center field but was caught trying to steal second before Colasante walked Lucas Kopp. Colasante was in great shape to get through the inning clean after striking out the dangerous Waterbury for the second out. But he hit Joe O’Hara with a pitch and uncorked a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position. Gabienelli (2-for-4, 4 RBI) then singled to center to score both runners and shave the deficit to 13-9.
Trey Leman kept the Titans alive by drawing a walk and Leo Paragrino (2-for-3, 2 doubles, RBI, run) doubled to left field to chase him to third. Finn Geisler followed with a clutch two-run single to left field to inch the Titans within 13-11. Paragrino reached third on the hit and Geisler took second on the throw in. The Titans were perhaps a single away from a miraculous comeback.
Colasante had entered in the sixth inning with two runners on and no outs and retired the next three batters in order to get out of the jam. In equal trouble in the sixth, the neophyte closer induced a pop up to shortstop to end the drama.
The Titans had picked off NY Prospects, 4-2, in an earlier pool play game on Sunday as the two teams were very equal in their two matchups, each scoring a total of 15 runs. The NY Prospects (3-1) outscored their tournament opponents 28-17. The Connecticut Titans (2-2) held a 32-19 runs advantage on their opponents.