Morris County Cubs’ Anthony Palombit dives into home plate to score ahead of shortstop’s throw.
By Sean Reilly
Anthony Palombit excels at a variety of things on the baseball field. Knowing how to hustle ranks high on the list.
The catcher for the Morris County Cubs was alert in the batter’s box, on the bases and behind the plate on Saturday evening, and it helped his team beat the PA Shockers, 12-1, in a four-inning pool play matchup in the Diamond Nation 14U Williams Harley Davidson Tournament in Flemington.
Palombit, the No. 3 batter in the Cubs lineup, walked, stole second, scampered to third on a wild pitch and scored by beating a throw to the plate on Max Koller’s grounder with the infield playing in during the first inning.
He also singled with two out and then took a key extra base on an infield single by Brayden Longo before scoring as part of a double steal in the second.
And in the third inning, he dunked a two-run single into right field that gave his team the 10-run margin it needed to end the game via the mercy rule once pitcher Zach Zaslow pitched a clean top of the fourth.
The Cubs made it a perfect night at ‘The Nation’ after following that victory with a 6-2 win over the NJ Rising Rebels, putting them in position for a first-place pool finish pending a Sunday result versus the Diamond Jacks Gold 14U.
And it all began with the strong showing against the Shockers, which was boosted by a five-run first inning, coupled with the complete game from Zaslow, who allowed one hit and no earned runs, with eight strikeouts and one walk.
“I’m just going out there, and I give 100 percent of my hustle all the time,” Palombit said. “There’s no other way to do it. I feel like putting my team in a good position is the best way to win games. It also extends to defense, too. You need to keep the same attitude. If you don’t give 100 percent hustle on defense, the offense isn’t going to pay off.”
The Shockers scored their lone run in the top of the first. Leadoff man Anderson Everitt reached on a two-base throwing error and scored on a two-out single to center by Max Drews.
The Cubs started the bottom of the inning with walks to Danny DiCarlo, Zach Broderson and Palombit to load the bases for Longo, who hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
Broderson scored on a wild pitch with Ryan McDonald at the plate, before McDonald walked to put runners on first and third for Jared Martini, who also walked to reload the bases for Koller.
Koller then hit a hard grounder toward shortstop with the infield playing up. Palombit got a good break toward the plate, and he beat a throw to score the third run. Kayden Daly had an infield hit near first base to bring in another run, and Martini scored on a wild pitch for the 5-1 advantage.
The Cubs tacked on three more runs after the first two batters were retired in the second.
Palombit started the rally with a single to left field. Longo was then safe with an infield hit that went to the space between pitcher and shortstop. It drew a late throw to first, and Palombit never stopped running until he was safe at third. The Cubs then pulled off a double steal to score Palombit.
“I just kept going,” he said of his non-stop dash to third. “You always have to win the first game of the tournament, and that’s the best way of doing it.”
After McDonald was hit by a pitch and stole second, a two-run single to left by Martini pushed the lead to 8-1.
The final runs came in the third, on an error, the two-run single by Palombit and then on a grounds rule double to right field by Longo, who ended 2-for-2 with two RBI.
Zaslow registered his final three strikeouts in the fourth, to bring an early end to the contest.
“They were a good team, but the lead helped,” Zaslow said. “The fastball low and away was the biggest pitch. I kept building, and then knew the fourth inning was probably going to be the last one, so I dialed it up a bit more.”
Palombit was impressed by his batterymate’s performance.
“He pitched a great game,” he said. “He hit all his spots everywhere where he needed to.”