Pena’s leadoff HR jump-starts Warehouse Indians 15U

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 16, 2024

Willy Pena homered on the first pitch he saw for the 15U Warehouse Indians.

By Rich Bevensee

Willy Pena didn’t see the point in watching any more pitches than he had to. If that first pitch looks good, it’s time to go to work, Pena thought.

And that’s how the Warehouse Indians Black went about grabbing its first win of the weekend at the Father’s Day Classic at Diamond Nation in Flemington. 

Pena, the Indians’ No. 3 batter, swung at the first pitch he saw and sent it over the right field fence for a two-run home run, a decisive blow which jump-started the Indians to an 8-1 victory over Sportika Baseball 15U Red in a pool play contest on Friday evening. 

“A first-pitch fastball is what I want,” said Pena, a rising sophomore at North Brunswick High. “I don’t want to let a good fastball go by. It doesn’t make sense to me to just watch it.”

Pena’s bat was lethal in the Indians’ one-sided victory, as he went 3-for-4 and was one of just two Indians to log multiple hits. No. 10 hitter Jack Korneski singled in the fifth and slugged a three-run triple in the sixth. 

“He does an amazing job at the plate, staying on plane even on a curveball that he hit up the middle,” Indians coach Greg Sampson said. 

The Warehouse Indians wrapped up their weekend 2-1 in pool play. Later on Friday night they beat the Out Of The Park Cyclones Prospects, 6-2, and on Saturday they bowed to Morris County Cubs Navy, 4-1. 

Sportika tied a pair of ball games on Saturday to finish 1-0-2, tying the Morris County Cubs Navy and the OOTP Cyclones Prospects by identical 5-5 scores. 

Perhaps even more dominant in the Indians’ victory than Pena’s bat was the pitching performance of Ishaam Jasani, Brady Meyer and Gavin Boslet, who combined for a five-hitter.

Jasani pitched three scoreless innings and allowed two hits and one walk while striking out three. Meyer went the next three and permitted one run on two hits and three walks with six whiffs. Boslet finished off Sportika with a scoreless seventh, allowing one hit and striking out one. 

A sudden but powerful storm whipped through Diamond Nation during the game, causing a 30-minute delay and making footing difficult for pitchers on the mound after the weather calmed down.

“Ryan (Alessi, the Indians catcher) did a great job controlling the game, and our pitchers, even when they fell behind 3-0, they came back and threw strikes which is awesome especially in the rain when they were sliding around a little bit,” Sampson said. 

“Ishaam has been really working on his changeup and that looked really good today,” Sampson said. “Meyer did a great job. He may have missed a little bit with his fastball but then he’d come back and throw his slider for a strike any time he wanted. And Bosley was doing a great job filling up the zone and pitching with a lead.”

Meyer’s RBI single in the third gave the Indians a 3-0 lead, but the big surge came in the sixth when a double rainbow served as a backdrop to the Nation’s facility.

After Boslet doubled and Raymond Tavarez singled, Joey Massimino singled to left to drive in Boslet. Nick Milone walked to load the bases and Korneski tripled into the right field corner to clear the bases. Dorian Crocco added a sacrifice fly to give the Indians an 8-0 lead.

“This group makes my life very easy,” said Sampson, the head coach at Piscataway Magnet. “You tell them something and they do it the first time, and I can tell you, as a teacher and a coach, you appreciate that.”

Sportika denied the Indians a shutout with a single run in the bottom of the sixth. Brian McCabe doubled to lead off the frame, took third on an infield error and scored on a wild pitch.

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