Maryland Prospects batter Isaiah Howard squares up a pitch against Wladyka American 14U.
By Will Harrigan
By no means did the Rawlings Maryland Prospects 14U club play perfect baseball in its Williams Harley Davidson tournament opener on Saturday morning.
But they still had little reason to worry, because their potent offense covered those blemishes and then some.
Scoring in every inning they batted, the Prospects walked away with a comfortable 8-4 victory over the Wladyka American 14U’s at Diamond Nation.
The Pool B contest was the only game of the day for both sides, as the Prospects will go into Sunday 1-0, while Wladyka will try to climb out of an 0-1 hole.
We had some issues with our pitching and our fielding today, but we have quite a few guys who can hit, it kind of saves us at times,” said MD Prospects coach Beau Brown.
Trailing 2-0 before getting the chance to bat, the Prospects offense quickly responded with a three-spot in the bottom of the first inning.
Leadoff batter Isaiah Howard was struck by a pitch and was promptly singled to third by C.J. August. A perfectly executed double steal plated Howard, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Two batters later, Chase McLaughlin – who went 2-for-2 with a walk, a double, and two RBIs – singled in August to knot the score up. McLaughlin would score from third later in the inning on a wayward Wladyka pitch that reached the backstop.
An inning later, the Prospects continued their surge by putting up a second three-spot in as many innings.
Howard and Dylan Adams would set the table with a walk and infield single respectively, setting up a right-center gap shot by McLaughlin to drive in Howard. In the ensuing at-bat, right-fielder Bobby White would single home Adams and McLaughlin, giving the winners a 6-2 edge.
“Once we got the lead up to 3 or 4, I was feeling better,” Brown said. “But credit (Wladyka) also, they have guys who can really hit too.”
The MD Prospects played small ball to add insurance in the third. Willis Coppedge reached on a walk, promptly stole second and third base, and scored on a wild pitch in an impressive one-man manufacturing of a run to extend the advantage to 7-2.
But Wladyka American, a travel organization that continues to produce lots of talent out of the Bergen County area, did not go quietly themselves.
Jayden Perez and Charlie Wall both scored on double steals in the fourth, cutting the deficit to 7-4. Perez – who will be a high school player to watch in the coming years – had a brilliant day himself, going 2-for-2 with a double and triple to go with a RBI.
Once the Prospects got back up, White would hit an opposite field sacrifice fly to help bolster the Prospects cushion to 8-4 after four complete innings.
Wladyka got off to a blazing start, hopping out to an early lead with the top of their lineup.
Leadoff batter Ayden Rivera, who also struck out three in two innings of relief, got on with a walk. Perez would lace a double on the first pitch of his at-bat, scoring the speedy Rivera to make it 1-0.
Wladyka shortstop Charlie Wall would single home Perez on a liner to center a batter later for a 2-0 lead.