Zarian Castro scores following his bases-loaded, three-run double gave Renegades Blue a 4-3 lead.
By Rich Bevensee
After a lopsided, mercy-rule victory earlier in the day, Renegades Blue found itself in a dogfight where they needed a big bat to climb out of a hole.
Enter Zarian Castro, a soft-spoken young man who’s not afraid of hitting in the clutch.
After Dream Chasers pitching quieted Renegades bats through the first half of the game, Castro’s bases-loaded, three-run double in the fourth inning kick-started a six-run rally and boosted the Renegades to a 7-6 victory in the 10U Fall Classic on Saturday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“My mind was going through a lot right there,” Castro said. “Two outs and I got my biggest hit of the summer. It makes me feel good because it lifted my team up and it helped my hitting.”
The Renegades built a four-run lead but were not safe until the Dream Chasers’ rally in the top of the sixth fell just short. The Dream Chasers scratched to within a run when they scored twice in the sixth and loaded the bases with two out – with the go-ahead run on second base – before Renegades reliever Gabriel Olivo got a strikeout to end the drama.
“It’s tough because these kids are little and they’re still learning,” Renegades coach Marvin Rozon said. “It comes down to repetition and they want to learn. And they always battle until the end.”
The Renegades improved to 2-0 with the win, having beaten the Montco Mavericks, 16-2, earlier in the day. The Renegades, the only unbeaten team in the four-team 10U field, will face N.Y. Prospects to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The championship game is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Castro, a talented left-handed batter, had given both sides a preview of what was to come in the third inning with an opposite-field, leadoff single.
In the Renegades’ half of the fourth, Roger Rodriguez, Olivo and Saed Almanzar walked to load the bases with no outs. Mirroring his third-inning effort, Castro lined an opposite-field shot down the third-base line for a bases-clearing, three-run double, giving his team its first lead of the game, 4-3.
“The past two, three weeks, he’s been amazing, hitting all over the place,” Rozon said. “He’s been our clutch player.”
“It’s been a good summer for my hitting,” Castro said. “I’m more of a singles-doubles hitter. I was just looking to make contact so I could get on base.”
The Renegades continued to pile on insurance runs. Castro later scored on an infield error, Rodriguez added an RBI single and Jeremiah Paz scored on an error following the Rodriguez hit for a 7-3 cushion.
In all, the Renegades sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs on two hits, six walks and two errors in the bottom of the fourth.
“That comeback felt good because I know my teammates can help me as much as I want to help them,” said Castro, a fifth-grader from the Bronx.
The Dream Chasers began to inch back into the contest with a single run in the fifth, thanks to a Rohan Mooney RBI single.
In the top of the sixth, things didn’t look so hot for the Dream Chasers, who had runners on first and third with no out before the Renegades turned a double play, in which they retired the batter and the Dream Chaser baserunner heading for home.
With Dylan Peralta on second, Jathan Rodriguez walloped an RBI triple, his second triple of the game. Mikey Sacco plated Rodriguez with a single up the middle, bringing the Dream Chasers within a run.
Anthony Starostiak walked and Joseph McRae reached on an error to load the bases. Olivo finally ended the tension with a strikeout.
Roger Rodriguez pitched the first five innings for the Renegades and surrendered four runs while striking out nine. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning and stranded runners on second and third in the fifth.
Dylan DeMichael was brilliant in his three innings for the Dream Chasers, striking out the first six batters and eventually yielding a run on two hits and a walk. And, oh yes, he got three more strikeouts to finish with nine whiffs total.
Amir Rodriguez, who went 2-for-3 with a triple, relieved DeMichael for an inning before giving way to Dylan Peralta.
In their first game of the weekend, the Dream Chasers hammered the N.Y. Prospects, 18-4. They’ll wrap up the round robin play with a game against the Montco Mavericks on Sunday at 2:15 p.m.