Daniel Nuti of Bandits Baseball Club scores on single by Matt DeStefanis for a 2-0 first-inning lead.
By Sean Reilly
Cam Ruggieri was a satisfied pitcher on Tuesday afternoon, and deservedly so.
The right-hander from the Rhode Island-based Bandits Baseball Club made his final start of the summer season against Northeast Pride 16U Prime at the Diamond Nation’s 16U Blue Chip Prospects tournament, and it was a good one.
He wound up allowing five hits and no earned runs over five-plus innings, as his team gained a 7-2 victory in its tournament opener in Flemington.
Ruggieri, a rising junior at Portsmouth High School in the Ocean State, struck out four, hit two and walked one batter, which was in line with a goal he set for himself at the start of the summer.
“I’ve been trying to walk less batters and keep my pitch count down,” he said. “It’s been going pretty well.”
After Ruggieri hit the first batter of the game, who would move on to second after a pickoff-play error, he retired the next three Northeast Pride batters.
His Bandits Baseball Club then took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Leadoff man Shaun Dwyer walked, Daniel Nuti was hit by a pitch and Connor Pullen (3-for-4) singled, which loaded the bases for Matt DeStefanis.
DeStefanis, a rising junior at LaSalle Academy in Providence, worked the count full before hitting a two-run single to right field. He took second on a throw to the plate.
With runners on second and third, neither advanced on a pitcher-to-first ground out. But Zac Voelker followed with a grounder to first that scored Pullen with the third run.
Pitching with a lead helped Ruggieri in his approach.
“That was very helpful,” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about trying to keep runs down or hits down. I could just throw my game.”
Ruggieri was also helped by having an extra day of rest. He was scheduled to pitch in the Monday tournament opener, but the game was rained out and rescheduled for later in the week.
“It was good for a rest day,” he said. “I threw a couple of days before, so that helped out a lot.”
Matt DeStefanis of Bandits is safe as Northeast Pride’s Garvey Chiarolanzio reaches for throw.
Ruggieri relied on a variety of pitches to earn the victory.
“The key was definitely having all of my pitches working for me, and being able to throw multiple pitches for strikes and keeping them off-balance,” he said.
Those pitches were a fastball, curve and sometimes a fork ball.
The Bandits extended their lead to 5-0 in the third. Ethan Elderkin walked with one out, stole second and advanced to third as Thomas Calhoun singled on a ball that dropped into shallow center field. Jonathan Antin then dropped down a safety squeeze bunt which scored Elderkin. Calhoun, meanwhile, advanced to third on a wild pitch with Dwyer at the plate, and scored on another wild pitch during the same at-bat.
Northeast Pride, which was also playing its first game after a Monday rain out, scored twice in the top of the fourth.
Shea Bailey (2-for-3) led off that frame with a single to center and stole second. After a one-out single by Danny Escalante, Bailey scored from third after an error following Escalante’s steal of second. Garvey Chiarolanzio was up next, and he reached on an error which scored Escalante.
The first two Bandits batters in the bottom of the fourth were retired before DeStefanis, who finished 2-for-3, legged out an infield single. Isaac Cabral (2-for-4) followed with a single to right field and Voelker walked on a full count to load the bases.
Northeast Pride then made a pitching change, but a wild pitch would score DeStefanis for a 6-2 lead.
The Bandits scored their final run in the fifth. Dwyer walked with one out, stole second and third and then scored when Pullen, a rising junior at Bishop Feehan in Massachusetts, smacked a triple to the gap in right-center.
Ruggieri yielded to Geoffrey Laliberte after allowing a walk and single to start the sixth. Laliberte kept Northeast Pride off the board in completing the inning.
Bandits Baseball Club loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth when the 1:50 time limit expired to end the game.