Daniel Placenti follows through on RBI single that gave FB Braves a 5-0 lead.
By Sean Reilly
Jandiel Ortiz couldn’t wait to play baseball, and it showed.
The talented player for the FB Braves 13U Red made his season debut on Friday night along with the rest of his team at the 13U Battle at the Turf at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
The team played two pool play games, first against the RCBC Ghost 13U Nationals, and then opposite Brooklawn Select 13U.
Ortiz went 2-for-3 with a triple in a 2-1 victory over RCBC in the opener, and followed with a 3-for-3 showing, including a three-run inside-the-park home run, when the Braves beat Brooklawn, 12-1, to secure a first-place finish in Pool B.
“It felt really good,” Ortiz said. “I just try to stay loose, be confident in myself and swing the bat.”
Against Brooklawn, which defeated the Diamond Jacks Gold 13U, 6-1, in its opening game on Friday, Ortiz delivered all three of his hits with two out. That included a pivotal single to right field in the first inning after the first two batters had struck out.
That hit was followed by a stolen base and single to shortstop by Bobby Cross, who then stole second to put runners on second and third for David Rojas. He followed with a two-run single to right field on a full count, and the Fairfield-based team was on its way to the victory.
Rojas then stole second, Ben Weninger kept the inning alive by drawing a full-count walk and Axel Black hit a single to center field to score Rojas for 3-0 lead.
The Braves tacked on five more runs in the second inning. Chris Arias and Evan Johnson began the inning with walks. A balk moved both into scoring position. Wenhau Lu drove in Arias with a ground out to shortstop. Casey Konz walked on a 3-2 pitch, and a two-run hit to center by Daniel Placenti increased the lead to 5-0.
The next batter struck out before Ortiz launched a ball to the gap in right-center, resulting in a three-run inside-the-park home run for an 8-0 score.
“It was a fastball, and I was able to drive it to right-center,” he said. “Around second, I knew I could go all the way.”
The Braves scored four more runs in third. Vin Russo led off with a walk and scored when Luke Askins smacked an RBI double, Arias hit a sacrifice fly, Placenti had a run-scoring ground out and Jake Small singled in a run.
Brooklawn scored its run on a two-out RBI single by Mike Lazorko in the fourth.
For the Braves, the winter break may have seemed long, but the strong opening night performance was quite satisfying.
“It felt good,” Ortiz said. “We were ready to come out and play. We hadn’t played all winter inside in a dome or anything, so it felt good to come out and play in our first tournament, and we also got two wins.”