Michael Ambroggio of MAD Baseball pulls into third after advancing on a wild pitch.
By Sean Reilly
For Brody Romero of MAD Baseball 15U, it was all about staying in the moment.
That meant putting aside a pitching start where he didn’t have his best stuff, and also clearing his mind of the fact that his fourth-inning at-bat on Sunday afternoon was going to be his last of the season.
Given the situation in the game against Shore Road Sluggers, concentrating on the present was all rather easy – the score was tied, and the bases were loaded. There were also two outs in the inning.
“I just tried to calm my mind and stay in the moment,” Romero said.
Romero responded with a first-pitch single to right field that scored the two decisive runs in what became a 5-4 pool play victory at the Diamond Nation 15U Summer Finale, Powered By Victus, in Flemington.
MAD Baseball, located near Syracuse, N.Y., finished the weekend with a 2-1 record. The trip home was much more enjoyable after the clutch hit by Romero.
“I got jammed a little bit,” he said. “I was just thinking, contact. We had bases loaded and two out, so I was just thinking of making contact.”
Romero, a left-hander, was the starting pitcher for MAD Baseball. He walked the first three batters in the top of the first, but was saved by a 5-2-3 double play, followed by a full-count strike out. In the top of the second, he walked the first two batters before yielding to the bullpen.
“I just couldn’t find the strike zone,” he said.
But, baseball is a game of redemption, which he demonstrated later in the game.
“It felt really good,” Romero said about delivering the big hit for his team. “It was a great way to end the season, especially since we came back to win.”
MAP Baseball took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Michael Ambroggio led off with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, he scored when Shacory Williams grounded out to shortstop.
Shore Road Sluggers, from Brooklyn, N.Y., used the two walks to score twice in the second. Angel Nunez and Nathan Khaldarov drew those walks, and after a strikeout following the pitching change, Phoenix Siuda also walked to fill the bases. Justin Wolf hit a single to right field that scored Nunez. After an overthrow to the plate, Khaldarov also came home for a 2-1 lead.
Shore Road Sluggers added another run in the third inning, after John King led off with a triple to the left field corner and Tommy Anton followed with a sacrifice fly to center field.
MAP Baseball, which had one hit through the first three innings, assumed control with a four-run fourth.
Ben Watkins led off by singling through the middle on a 1-2 pitch. Williams was up next, and reached on a first-pitch single to the hole in deep shortstop. Cayden Nappa walked to load the bases.
With Shore Road playing its corner infielders in and the middle infielders in a couple of steps, Avery Pankow was able to hit a sacrifice fly on a ball that was caught by the retreating second baseman. A throw came to the plate, so the other runners tagged to second and third. Kyle Brown walked to reload the bases, and after a strikeout, Steven Ambroggio walked on a full count to score Williams with the tying run. Romero followed with his first-pitch single for a 5-3 lead.
Nathan Khaldarov of Shore Road Sluggers scores on overthrow to plate after single by Justin Wolf.
Williams, meanwhile, pitched a 1-2-3 top of the fifth, and MAD Baseball went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
With the 1:50 time clock about to expire, the sixth inning was going to be the last. Shore Road was also sending up the top of its order.
King led off with a walk, but was forced out at second on a grounder hit to shortstop by Anton. A wild pitch sent Anton to second with Thomas Jennings at the plate. With the count full on Jennings, Anton took off for third base on ball four and scored when the throw to the base went into left field.
The next batter was retired on a nice fielding play by Williams on a grounder hit to his right side. A walk put runners on first and second, but a fly out to center field ended the game.
Williams, aside from his two productive at-bats, allowed one hit and no earned runs over his three innings on the mound. He struck out one and walked three.
King was 1-for-1 with two walks, while Jennings walked in all three of his at-bats for Shore Road Sluggers, which ended the weekend with a 1-2 record.