Gianni Piscioniere is greeted by Jelani Audena (left) and Luke Symasek after a three-run home run.
By Rich Bevensee
The baseball was traveling at such a terrific rate of speed, it cleared the left field fence mere seconds after the metal ping of the bat reverberated around Field 6 at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
And forget about a majestic arc. This particular home run shot was tracking the path of a guided missile.
Gianni Piscioniere has hit home runs before – in fact he had hit 12 of them this spring before Saturday – but in his estimation none were moving faster or more fiercely than the one he hit to slam an exclamation mark on his team’s debut game at ‘The Nation.’
Piscioniere’s three-run home run in the top of the third inning capped a 15-0 pool play victory for Technique Tigers Baseball Academy Navy over Tucci Elite in the 12U Spring Fever Tournament at ‘The Nation.’
“Definitely the hardest ball I’ve ever hit,” said Piscioniere, who has nine home runs with the Tigers and four more in Little League play back home in Trumbull, Conn. “I don’t think that much about hitting home runs. I try to make contact and get on base. I make contact with every single pitch that I can hit.”
“The kid’s different,” Tigers coach Manny Torres said. “He’s probably one of the best 12U hitters we’ve had here in the last 10 years. He’s definitely a special athlete who can drive the ball. If you come in the zone he can hurt you.”
The Tigers (14-4 this spring) later lost a pool play game, 12-11, to 12U Bell Ringers Ravert. Technique was to face Iron Nine Baseball on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Tucci Elite, of Norwalk, Conn., bounced back on Saturday to defeat Iron Nine Baseball 14-8. Tucci was set to close pool play against 12U Bell Ringers Ravers on Sunday at 10 a.m.
These teams are familiar rivals. Technique swept a doubleheader against Tucci two weeks ago back in Connecticut, and this weekend they traveled to New Jersey just to meet again.
Piscioniere’s homer was the finishing touch on an incredible amount of offensive support of Tigers hurler Lucas Lage, who pitched a three-inning one-hitter with five walks and three strikeouts.
Lage stranded three baserunners in scoring position and allowed a single run in the third inning before retiring Tucci for good. Tigers coach Manny Torres said he instructed Lage simply to pitch to contact.
“All I have to do is throw it so they can hit it because we have a good defense behind us,” Lage said. “I trust my teammates and I know they’ll make good throws.”
The Tigers had the first at bat and immediately went to work. They sent 15 batters to the plate and chalked up 10 runs on five hits and six walks with one hit batter and one error in a 30-minute frame.
Mason McNellis highlighted the inning with a two-run grounds rule double while Jordyn Colon and Piscioniere added RBI singles.
Lage thanked his offense by slipping out of a first-inning jam in the bottom of the frame, getting a strikeout with runners on second and third.
In the second inning Rey Dehestas had a run-scoring single as part of a two-run burst.
Jelani Audena – who looked incredibly smooth for a 12-year-old shortstop on defense – and Luke Symasek singled to lead off the third before Piscioniere launched his 13th homer of the season, which sizzled just over the fence.
Torres, Lage and Piscioniere explained why the Tigers are off to such a hot start this spring. It all came back to balance and effort.
“I think it’s a combination of being aggressive in the count, a lot of team speed, a couple guys who can bop it, and we take advantage of the other team’s mistakes,” Torres said.
“Our offense has been good, our defense, too, and we have more pitchers than we did last year,” Lage said.
“I think we trained a lot harder in the offseason,” Piscioniere said. “When we got to the playoffs we didn’t do as well, so I think we trained harder so that wont happen this year.”