By Sean Reilly
The championship of the Diamond Nation 13U Labor Day Blast came down to a matchup between two teams from the same Staten Island organization.
And oddly enough, it was a player from Delaware who helped decide the outcome.
Emmett Robinson, the starting pitcher and leadoff batter for the Richmond County Baseball Club Marucci Americans, went 2-for-3 with triple and a single which launched a three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth and final inning that resulted in a 6-5 victory over the RCBC Marucci Nationals on Monday afternoon in Flemington.
Robinson, who turned 13 in May, was named tournament Most Valuable Player, the second time he went home with the MVP hardware this summer at ‘The Nation.’ He also received the award when Diamond Elite, a team made up of Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania players, won the 12U Youth World Series in July. He’s also competed on the bigger fields on the 13U level for Titus Baseball Academy, which he sparked to a first-place pool finish at the Spring Classic in May.
“It’s been about a 50/50 split,” he said of the time playing 12U and 13U this season. “I just try to have fun and play hard. I’m from Delaware and these guys are from New York, I just wanted a new feel for a different culture. It’s really helped, because the coaches are really good. They help you when you’re down, they help you when you’re up, and they keep the energy going.”
The RCBC Americans, who ended the event with a 5-0 record and 44-14 run differential, trailed 5-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth, with the 1:50 time clock ticking below 10 minutes.
Robinson led off with a single to right field. He stole second, and scored when Tyler Stern dunked a double into right field.
The next batter popped out to second base, and Christopher Jerla followed by walking on a 3-1 count. Alexander Vargas took three balls, before walking on a full count to load the bases.
If the inning were to end with the Nationals leading or the score tied with time still on the clock, a sixth inning would be played. If time were to expire with the Americans ahead, the game would end.
The next batter was Connor Crittenden, who stepped into the batter’s box with just under four minutes left on the clock. Crittenden, whose two-run single in the bottom of the first had given the RCBC Americans a 3-0 lead, hit a two-run single to center field to put his team in front, 6-5.
The next batter was Devin Pollock, who began his at-bat near the two-minute mark. He was safe on a fielder’s choice grounder, with Crittenden forced out at second.
The Nationals had roughly a minute left to get a third out and force a sixth inning, but time ran out after one pitch was thrown.
After falling behind in the opening inning, the RCBC Nationals (4-1-1) went ahead with a four-run third. The first two batters walked, and with the top of the order now up, Gabe Lucca drove in the first run with a single to shortstop. Jason Sainicola then lined a ball past third base and down the left field line for a two-run double and 3-3 tie. The next two batters were retired, on a full-count pop to shortstop and strikeout, before Tyler Bassett delivered an RBI double to center field for the lead.
The RCBC Nationals extended their advantage in the top of the fourth. Chris Paul led off and walked on a full count, and later scored on a two-out single by Lucca.
Lucca finished 2-for-3 with two RBI for the RCBC Nationals. Aside from Robinson’s performance for the RCBC Americans, Jerla was 2-for-2 with a walk, and Crittenden was 2-for-3 with his four RBI.
“The biggest difference (going back and forth with the age groups) has been patience and timing,” Robinson said. “Hitting wise, you have to wait back and you have to let the ball get deep in your hands. Pitching wise, you have to find your release point differently.”