Simon boosts North Jersey Heat to 12U Grand Slam victory

By DN WRITING STAFF | October 1, 2023

Miles Conover scores on a wild pitch to give North Jersey Heat a 6-1 second-inning lead. 

By Sean Reilly 

Blake Simon had plenty to feel good about on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation. 

He was the leadoff batter for the North Jersey Heat, and did something productive in all four of his at-bats. 

The left-hander was also the starting pitcher, and he threw a three-hit gem as the Heat gained a 13-1 victory over 3Up3Down Baseball at the 12U Grand Slam tournament in Flemington. 

The question posed to Simon after the game was what he enjoys more, hitting leadoff or pitching, and he didn’t hesitate to answer. 

“It’s pitching,” he said. “I don’t like to hit leadoff that much. My pitching was going well, especially with my curveball.” 

At the plate, Simon singled and scored in a two-run top of the first inning and delivered an RBI groundout in the second. He also had an RBI single and scored in the fourth inning and was hit by a pitch in the fifth. 

On the mound, he allowed singles to the first two batters in the bottom of the first – a leadoff hit to third base by Garrett Pope, who stole second and scored on a base hit to left field by Riggs Williams. 

Simon settled down by throwing strikes and allowing one hit and one walk the rest of the way, as the Heat finished the day with a 1-1 record.

Simon also finished with six strikeouts.

“It was the curveball,” he said. “The hits right away didn’t bother me, because everyone gets hits. I just had to concentrate on the next one. And as the game went on, the more runs we score, the easier it is for me.”

The Heat totaled 13 hits, with Ben DelConte going 3-for-3 with a double, three runs and two RBI. In addition to Simon, the Heat also received two hits apiece from Griffin Vidal and Miles Conover. 

Vidal and Jack Fitzgerald supplied run-scoring hits in the top of the first, allowing the Heat to take an immediate lead. 

Simon wasn’t bothered by the quick run scored by 3Up3Down – Williams was out in a rundown between first and second after his RBI hit, and the next two batters struck out.

Griffin Vidal follows through on RBI single in first inning for North Jersey Heat. 

The Heat pulled away in the second inning by scoring four times for a 6-1advantage. DelConte had a squeeze bunt single to score Teddy Klein with the first run. Conover had an RBI single to center field before Simon’s RBI ground out to shortstop. Conover then scored on a wild pitch. 

After a run scored on an error in the third, the Heat scored three more runs in the fourth to extend the lead to 10-1. Simon and Jack Logan hit run-scoring singles, and Chris Ricca had a run-scoring ground out. 

The last three runs came in the fifth. Klein had an RBI single and DelConte hit a run-scoring double. DelConte scored the final run on an error to complete his stellar day.

“I saw the ball really well today and was confident in my swing,” he said. 

The Heat has an outside shot at finishing first in its pool, but would have to beat the Diamond Jacks Super 12U (2-0) in its final pool game on Sunday morning for a tiebreaker situation to kick in.

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