PA Shockers turn to basics, terrific pitching to win 16U Blue Chips opener

By DN WRITING STAFF | August 8, 2023

Shockers reliever Josh Martinell comes to the set in the sixth inning of Monday’s game.

By Will Harrigan

PA Shockers 16U coach Alex Crim emphasizes two remarkably simple philosophies of baseball; pitching to contact and putting the ball in play. 

The Shockers managed to do just that, and they got their week off to a terrific start as a result on Monday.

In the end, the Shockers came to Diamond Nation and notched a 4-0 victory over the Diamond Jacks Gold 15U squad on Monday afternoon in 16U Blue Chip Prospects action.

The game was the first of four for both sides in the tournament.

All four of the Shockers’ runs came with two outs, and as a direct result of fielding errors made by the DJacks.

“We were able to get on base, put pressure on their defense, and when you put the ball in play anything can happen,” said Crim. “When you don’t play your best, you have to rely on your fundamentals and philosophies, and that’s kind of what put us over the top today.”

Scoreless in the sixth, Gunnar Rahn of Quakertown (PA) High School got aboard by singling to center field. Following a steal and two outs recorded by Diamond Jacks reliever Nick Yaccarino, disaster struck the locals in the field.

A single by Luke Poley looked like it would put runners at the corners for the Shockers, but the hard-hit liner skipped under a DJacks outfielder’s glove, allowing Rahn to score and giving the Shockers a 1-0 lead.

With two out and one on in the sixth, a walk drawn by Cole Reich and a single by Josh Martinell loaded the bases for Rahn.

Diamond Jacks Gold 15U batter Colin Newcomb stands in at the dish.

Yaccarino got Rahn to hit a towering but shallow fly ball, but a dropped fly ball by the DJacks proved even more costly. The two out situation put all three runners in motion and all three would score on the play. The sudden 4-0 lead put the Shockers in the driver’s seat.

Meanwhile, the pitching duo of Daniel Grosch and Martinell were terrific all game for the Shockers, combining to toss a one-hit shutout, despite recording just four strikeouts over seven innings.

The lone DJacks hit came in the top half of the fourth when Colin Ricciardi singled. But he was stranded at second.

“Grosch did not have his best stuff, but he relentlessly pounded the zone, and that’s what we teach,” said Crim. “And what Marty did, coming in with the bases loaded and one out, trusted his defense.”

Indeed, three walks drawn by DJacks batters – Kenta Komatsu, Yaccarino, and Ricciardi – loaded the bases in the seventh, but Martinell induced a pair of flyouts to keep the home squad off the board.

One bright spot for the Diamond Jacks was starting pitcher Artie Conover – a left-handed Morristown product – who tossed five innings of shutout ball that included seven strikeouts.

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