Schwarz unloads bombs, throws darts for Grit 12U

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 18, 2024

Tanner Lawrence singled in the game-ending run for a Grit 12U in the third inning.

By Rich Bevensee

In many ways, Patrick Schwarz’ emergence as a power hitter mirrors what his team has accomplished this spring.

After a slow start to the season, 12U Grit Baseball of upstate New York has been rolling through opponents and tournaments, thanks mostly to the team’s offensive improvements. That uptick in offense bore fruit when, in consecutive tournaments over the last two weeks, Grit finished second in one and won the next.

Grit still has its foot on the proverbial gas pedal and Schwarz is the one behind the wheel. On Saturday morning he blasted two mammoth home runs and led Grit to a 14-0, three-inning victory over Tucci Lumber of Connecticut in a 12U Spring Fever pool play contest at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Schwarz also pitched a no-hitter over the three innings and permitted just one baserunner on a hit by pitch. Two pitches later he picked off that runner to end the inning. 

Grit has won nine of its last 10 to improve to 10-6 on the season. Grit won a USABL tournament in Wayne, N.J. on Mother’s Day weekend, and in the tournament before that, Grit lost in the championship game in Monroe, N.J. 

“We started out slow but the kids have been working really hard, staying on it, and the bats have just come alive,” Grit coach Chris Paciga said. “They’re starting to really learn what it means to compete, to have competitive at bats, and this is the product.”

Grit pounced on Tucci for five runs in the bottom of the first inning on five hits and a walk.

In the bottom of the third, Grit sent all 13 batters to the plate and scored nine runs on seven hits and five walks. No. 13 batter Tanner Lawrence walked it off with an RBI single.

“Every day at practice our coach is throwing 75, so we have to time that up,” said Grit No. 2 hitter Brian Klein, who belted a pair of RBI doubles. “It’s challenging. You have to get your timing down and then you can hit it. Now it’s coming into our game.”

Schwarz blasted his third and fourth homers of the spring in his two at bats Saturday and finished with five RBI. He said he felt the team’s offensive surge was bound to happen sooner than later.

“We went to a tournament in Florida in early April and did a lot of team bonding, but we got off to a rough start,” Schwarz said. “Then we just started hitting. Everyone on this team can hit. It’s great to see everyone doing it.”

Also for Grit, Jake Guzowski had an RBI double, Chris Shenloogian had two hits, and Landon Coffey and Tanner Lawrence each had an RBI single. 

“I knew we were going to get there,” Paciga said. “In the beginning we had a lot of work to do, and the kids put in the work. I give them a ton of credit. I think the kids are starting to come into their own.”

Grit, from the Rockland County hamlet of New City, posted five runs in the bottom of the first inning, and the attention grabber was Schwarz’ moon shot well over the 201-foot fence in left field. 

When Grit scored nine more runs in the third inning to end the game, Schwarz was in the middle of that rally as well, drilling a line drive home run to the same location over the left field fence.

“Most of the time, no, I don’t look at my home runs, I’m just focused on running,” Schwarz said. “My first one, I knew that was gone so I looked at it for a bit, but the second one, I didn’t know so I started running. I know it would be cool to hit a home run but I’m just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere. But yeah, when I feel it, it goes.”

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