Mason Papageneres of Sparta Cyclones scores on base hit by Andrew Bode.
By Sean Reilly
The Richmond County Baseball Club Ghost 12U Nationals had a point to prove while making their first Diamond Nation appearance of the 2023 campaign on Friday night.
The Staten Island team made its season debut a week ago playing elsewhere, but the results didn’t go so well. RCBC’s three games resulted in a loss, a rain out and a loss.
The friendly confines of the program’s familiar destination, “The Nation,” brought better results, as RCBC opened play at the 12U April Fool’s Tournament with a 9-6 victory over the Sparta Cyclones in Flemington.
RCBC totaled 11 hits, three of them by leadoff man James Giovannone, who went 3-for-3 with a two-run triple and three runs scored.
“This was a good way to start the tournament,” Giovannone said. “We’re looking to do better this week. Our team came together.”
Sparta took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Ryan Shepulski walked with one out, and stole second with Connor McKernan at the plate. McKernan delivered a one-out RBI single to center. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, but RCBC got out of the inning without additional damage.
Giovannone then led off the bottom of the inning with a tone-setting drag bunt single.
“I’ve worked on that,” he said. “Also on my opposite field hitting.”
Giovannone stole second, and after a fly out, he scored when Vincenzo Lanni hit a full-count single to right center. Lanni took second on a throw to the plate, and RCBC established a 2-1 lead when Dominic Napolitano singled to center field.
Sparta countered with a three-run top of the third to claim a 4-2 lead. The inning featured a one-out RBI single by Andrew Bode and two-run single from Adam Krok with two out.
The lead was short lived, since RCBC scored four times in the bottom of the inning with Giovannone again playing an important role.
The frame started with a walk to Sal Longo before Joe Milazzo was hit by a pitch. RCBC’s strong fundamentals paid another dividend as Lou Ramovic dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position.
The next batter was Giovannone, and his triple to right-center field scored both for a 4-4 tie. Dominic Poggi was the next batter, and his ground out to third scored Giovannone for a 5-4 lead.
RCBC added one more run in the inning. Lanni reached on a walk, and he wheeled home on a double to center by Napolitano.
RCBC extended the advantage in the fourth inning, which began with a single off the fence in left field by Thomas McLean. The next batter was Aldo Ramovic, who also singled. Brendan Swanson then sacrificed them to second and third, and they scored when Angelo Regina smacked a double to center.
Giovannone came up again in the fifth, and he reached on a one-out single. Poggi followed with a RBI double to center for a 9-4 lead.
Sparta threatened in the top of the sixth.
With one out, McKernan walked on a full count and Krok hit a grounds rule double by bouncing a hit over the center field fence. Matthew Staub’s single scored McKernan and sent Krok to third.
Staub stole second, and Chase Wolfe hit a single on a dribbler down the third base line to load the bases and send the tying run to the plate.
Mason Daly was the next batter. He was safe on a fielder’s choice grounder to second which scored Krok and retired Wolf at second.
With the tying run again at the plate, RCBC reliever McLean struck out the batter to end the game.