Brooklawn’s Select first baseman Luke Heim collects throw from shortstop Simon Derias for an out.
By Sean Reilly
The Plus Performance Stingers spotted Brooklawn Ballers Select a three-run first-inning lead on Sunday afternoon at the Super 12U Fall Invitational at Diamond Nation.
The Stingers knew that there was time to come back. And they also knew there was a way to do it, starting with playing smart, basic baseball.
For the remainder of the game, the Stingers got clutch hitting, alert base running, error-free defense and quality pitching, and even a well-placed bunt, to rally for a 7-6 victory in Flemington.
It all began with leadoff man James Esposito, who singled twice, reached on catcher’s interference and scored three runs.
“We did a lot of the little things,” Esposito said. “We started down, 3-0, but we were able to come back.”
The comeback was especially sweet since the Stingers, a late addition to the field, lost twice on Saturday and could have felt deflated after falling behind early in the third and final game against Brooklawn Ballers Select. But that didn’t happen.
Brooklawn (1-2) opened the game with its leadoff man flying out to center before Christian Heine reached on an error and Simon Derias walked. Jonell Cusata Rosa then launched a three-run home run.
Plus Performance Stingers, out of Somerset County, got one run back in the bottom of the inning. Esposito singled to left field and wound up on second after an error. Pio Carotenuto followed with an RBI single to right field. It was the start of his very productive experience at the plate, in addition to his pitching work in relief.
The Stingers then turned four singles into four runs in the bottom of the second.
Ryan Frame began the inning by singling on a ball hit slowly along the first base line. He stole second and third before Chris Dahl drew a walk. Dahl then stole second. The next batter struck out before Matt Liz-Eloy hit a sacrifice fly to center. Aside from Frame scoring, Dahl alertly advanced to third on the play.
That dash was important, since Esposito followed with a single to left field which tied the score. Esposito stole second, and then scored the go-ahead run when Carotenuto singled to center. Carotenuto stole second, and he scored when Caleb Cabeza beat out a grounder to deep shortstop.
Brooklawn got within 5-4 when Derias hit an RBI double in the top of the third. But the Stingers got the run back in the bottom of the inning. Frame was hit by a pitch with one out and stole second and third with Dahl at the plate. Dahl was then retired on an RBI groundout to first base.
Brooklawn was able to load the bases in the top of the fourth, and closed to 6-5 after Heine walked on a full count with two out. The next batter grounded out to second.
The Stingers added an important insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. Esposito led off, and reached on catcher’s interference. He stole second, and moved to third through one of those little things – a pitcher-to-first ground out by Carotenuto.
Cabeza then bunted in front of the plate. The ball was fielded by the catcher, who made a quick lunge back toward the plate hoping to tag the oncoming Esposito, who was safe for a 7-5 lead.
With the 1:50 time clock about to run out, the fifth inning was going to be the last.
Brooklawn’s leadoff man flew out to right field, and Colton Williams walked on a full count. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring when Spencer Hahn grounded out to first.
Luke Heim then hit a grounds rule double to left center, but the next man struck out to end the game.