Righty Zach Schetter held the PRD Ghost bats at bay and the Taconic Rangers’ deep lineup unleashed a 13-hit attack on the way to a 13-4 victory and the 12U Fall Invitational championship last night at Diamond Nation.
This was nothing new for a Rangers squad that went 5-0 in the tournament and held a staggering 51-13 runs advantage on their opponents to improve to 14-0 in the fall season.
“This is a brand new team and we’ve won all three tournaments we’ve played so far,” said Taconic Rangers coach Tim Durkin. “We hit top to bottom.”
Schetter permitted four runs on seven hits over his four-plus innings of work, striking out four and walking just one. The one walk in Schetter’s line was indicative of a young pitcher peppering the strike zone with fastballs and changeups that kept the potent Ghost lineup guessing.
“Zach has a nice little changeup and uses that to keep batters off balance,” said Durkin. “He did a real nice job tonight.”
Schetter wasn’t going to hold down the Ghost lineup completely, not the team that showed how dangerous it is in its wild 10-9 walk-off semifinal victory over NJ Axemen. PRD Ghost reached Schetter for three runs on four of their seven hits in the second inning to tie the game at 3-3.
Cleanup hitter Asher DeLu led off the third inning with a double off the wall in left-center field and his Ghost teammate Casey Moore followed with an RBI single to left field. Ethan Cruz then stepped in and hit a laser to right field that cleared the wall by a foot for a two-run home run and a tie game.
But after J.D. Christmann singled with one out, Schetter settled in nicely and quickly benefitted, too, from the offensive onslaught provided by his teammates.
The Rangers quickly regained control of matters with a five-run top of the fifth inning keyed by Josiah Figuereo’s two-run double to left-center and Jaxon Ermo’s RBI grounds rule double to right. Jacob Fields, who would earn the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award, brought another run home with a fielder’s choice grounder and Schetter helped his own cause with an RBI single through the middle. The Rangers scored four of the runs in the inning after two were out.
“Our guys are not afraid of fastballs,” said Durkin. “We stress putting the ball in play with two strikes and forcing our opponent to make plays.”
Fields, the Rangers’ catcher, also had a double in the fourth to cap a terrific tournament performance. “We were down 4-1 in our semifinal game and Jacob hit home runs in back-to-back at bats and gave us the lead,” said Durkin. “He also caught three games for us today, which is not easy to do.” The Rangers defeated MA Show 12U, 8-4, in the semifinals.
Schetter’s bid for a complete game went by the board in the bottom of the fifth when Durkin lifted him after the first three batters reached base. Timmy O’Sullivan singled to left field before Schetter issued his first walk of the game, to Christmann, and Mako Vessossi followed with an RBI single to right field.
But center fielder Kyle Durkin came in and got the final three outs without allowing a run. Fields gunned down Christmann trying to steal third for the first out then Durkin struck out the next two batters, both looking, to end the game.
The Rangers’ contributors were many as each of the 10 Taconic batters either had a hit, an RBI or scored a run.
Speedy Max Selinger set the table nicely from the top of the lineup. He singled, drew a walk, scored twice and stole four bases. Giancarlo Henry had an RBI double and a solo home run in his four trips to the plate. Tyler Durkin drew a pair of walks, stole four bases and scored twice. Ethan Viera was hit by a pitch, singled, stole three bases and scored two runs. By now you are getting a little insight into coach Durkin’s aggressive approach.
Figuereo had a single and double and scored a run. Schetter added two singles, two RBI and two runs to his strong outing on the mound. Ermo had a single and two doubles, scored a run and drove in two. Nick Procaccino pinched hit in the fifth and singled and scored. Thomas Imperati, who batted 10th, drove in a run with a grounder among his three solid at bats.
Though falling in the final, PRD Ghost (4-1) will long remember their scintillating come-from-behind victory over NJ Axemen in the semifinals. PRD Ghost trailed 9-0 and had to rally for two runs just to avoid a loss via the mercy rule. Having survived that indignity, PRD came to bat in the bottom of the sixth trailing by the same seven runs. But they put forth a wild rally, scoring eight runs to win 10-9 and reach the championship game. The last six of the runs were scored after two were out.