Saco dominant again as Iron Nine 14U defeats Stealth

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 12, 2024

Stealth’s Lino Tete dives back to the bag while Iron Nine first baseman Quinn Weber awaits throw.

By Rich Bevensee

Nick Saco is quickly making a name for himself at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Just two weeks after striking out 11 and not allowing an earned run in seven innings of work, the eighth grader from Parsippany was back at ‘The Nation’ to send a new batch of grumbling batters back to the dugout.  

Relying mostly on his low 70s fastball and slider, Saco won a pitchers’ duel and recorded his first shutout of the season in Iron Nine North’s 5-0 triumph over Philadelphia Area Baseball Stealth in a 14U Mother’s Day Classic pool play contest on a cool Saturday evening. 

“It feels great to put up a zero,” said Saco after slamming the door on his fifth start of the spring. “Confidence is dominance. When you have confidence you’re gonna dominate the game and not give up too many hits. They might hit the ball but I have a great defense, the best, and they’re there to back me up.”

The Iron Nine improved to 2-0 on the weekend and will wrap up pool play on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. against Wladyka Continental. Earlier on Saturday, Iron Nine blanked the New Jersey Rising Rebels, 16-0.

Stealth, 1-1 after beating Wladyka, 4-3, earlier on Saturday, concludes pool play against the Rising Rebels on Sunday at 12:15 p.m.

Leadoff hitter Connor DiStefano tripled and singled for Iron Nine.

Saco’s 86-pitch shutout was a two-hitter with three walks and five strikeouts. He allowed a single to opposing pitcher Gabe Lerro in the third inning and a double to Luke Yeager in the fourth. Saco retired seven straight after the Yeager double and never allowed more than four Stealth batters to come to the plate in any inning. 

Two weeks ago, after Logan Lipinski’s walk-off triple lifted Iron Nine South to victory over Wild Bill Black of Maryland in support of another Saco gem, Lipinski was more interested in propping up his pitcher than he was in reviewing his big hit.

“I can’t hit him,” Lipinski said. “I’m glad he’s on our side.”

After Saturday’s triumph, Iron Nine North coach Max Reyes was just as proud of Saco as Lipinski.

“He’s been dominating games, getting ahead of hitters, and our defense has always been our strong suit,” Reyes said. “We get the bats going, they have fun and play good baseball and win games. And it starts with Nick.”

In the third inning when Saco allowed a single and a walk to open the frame, Reyes said his pitcher was rushing a bit too much to get the job done, and encouraged his young righty to slow his tempo.

“After I gave up a couple runners, I took a couple of deep breaths and got them out and kept it to zero and was able to flow right through the game,” Saco said.

“The big thing for Nick came in that third inning, when got off to an iffy start and then he slowed the game down a lot,” Reyes said. “We talk to him about controlling the tempo, like throwing a hitter off his timing just by throwing to first.”

And that defense Saco was talking about shined when he needed it most. With two on and one out in the third, Iron Nine shortstop Vinny DeCock robbed Will Visconto of a single up the middle, stepped on second and fired to first for the double play, just as pinch-runner Lino Tete was rounding third and potentially headed home to ruin Saco’s shutout bid. 

While Saco was quieting Stealth hitters, Quinn Weber gave Saco some breathing room with a huge late-inning hit.

For Stealth, Lerro was pitching nearly as well as Saco through five innings, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks. But in the bottom of the sixth Lerro surrendered a pair of hits before Weber, swinging on a 3-0 count, delivered a one-out, two-run single up the middle for a 3-1 Iron Nine lead. 

Weber was 0-for-2 going into the at bat, including a swinging strikeout in his previous plate appearance.

“It’s all about confidence,” Weber said. “I beat myself up a lot, but no matter how badly I do I try to keep my confidence high.”

That hit knocked Lerro from the box, and he finished with four runs yielded on six hits and four walks with three strikeouts. 

Jacob Minnefor added an RBI single and Henry Court walked with the bases loaded before Iron Nine was done.

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *