Vivek Sekhri of the No. Westchester Outlaws scores the first of his three runs on a wild pitch.
By Sean Reilly
The Northern Westchester Outlaws 12U came to Diamond Nation this weekend for all of the usual reasons that teams travel to Flemington to play, most notably the quality of the facility, the location and the exceptional competition that’s always on hand.
The New York team had a more direct reason for taking part in the 12U Spring Invitational at “The Nation” – the tournament offers the team its first chance of the year to get outside of batting cages and onto a field. The lack of turf fields near its home base make it otherwise impossible to play outside at this time of the year.
“This was our first time out,” said Outlaws coach Jason Finney. “It’s great to come here and get a chance to play.”
Getting outdoors also afforded the Outlaws another opportunity – getting a chance to perform well and win, and elevated their players’ confidence along the way.
That’s exactly what happened. After their lineup got a couple at-bats at the plate and handled some chances in the field, the Outlaws erupted for 10 runs in the fifth inning to defeat the Harrison Bombers, 12-6.
Winning pitcher Gavin Fenty worked the whole game for the Outlaws. And as far as the right-hander was concerned, getting the victory was nice, but so was getting a chance to compete in an actual game for the first time in months.
“It felt real,” he said. “I haven’t been on the mound in a game in a while. It’s good to be playing again.”
A key for Fenty was a solid third inning. The Bombers were another Westchester County team that came to Diamond Nation for its first action of 2023, and they scored twice in the first inning and once in the second to take a 3-2 lead into the third.
Fenty and his teammates then started to settle in during a 1-2-3 inning, which included two cleanly-fielded grounders and a catch of an infield liner.
“That helped for the rest of the game,” said Fenty, who relied mostly on a knuckle-curve and fastball.
The Bombers did use a fourth-inning RBI single from Ryan Fernhoff, followed by T.J. Haynes steal of home on a first-and-third play, to take a 5-2 lead into the fifth.
That’s when the Outlaws got the big inning that they were hoping for. With everyone in the lineup getting their third at-bat of the game, any nerves, jitters or timing issues at the plate seemed to disappear.
Leadoff man John Mende started it with a walk, and Vivek Sekhri singled to left field. They advanced to second and third on a passed ball, and scored when Jacob Barger hit a two-run double to left-center.
After the next batter struck out, Vinny Palazzo hit an RBI double to center which tied the score. Max Torres then reached on a three-base outfield error which scored Palazzo for a 6-5 lead. Angel Lopez then supplied an RBI single to right field.
After a pitching change, Cameron Koretsky singled. The next batter struck out, but Mende hit a ball that fell between the left and center fielders to score two more runs for a 9-5 lead. Sekhri followed with an RBI triple, and Barger hit his second double of the inning for an 11-5 score. Palazzo singled in the final run of the inning.
“We were looking for that one inning,” Finney said. “We wanted to show them what they are able to do. Getting to come here to play is great.”
The first five batters in the Outlaws lineup all reached base at least twice. Mende ended 1-for-2 with two walks, Sekhri was 3-for-4 and reached on an error, and Palazzo went 3-for-4.