Smith homer keys big Zoom rally in Super 15 Invitational

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 23, 2022

Carlo Cesar of Zoom Baseball pitches to Santo Ruiz of Complete Performance Baseball.

By Joe Hofmann

One run. That’s all Zoom Baseball wanted. That’s all it played for.

One wonders what would have happened had it played for the big inning.

Zoom got their one run, alright — and it also got 12 more for a 13-run fourth-inning explosion on the way to a 15-5 four-inning victory over Complete Performance in a Super 15 Invitational tournament game at Diamond Nation Thursday.

“We played for one, got five, and then we got a whole bunch more,” winning coach Mike Zolk said of his Philly area team.

Complete Performance’s defense wilted under the blazing sun and high 90’s heat.

The pinnacle of the Zoom rally was when Billy Smith ripped a three-run, inside-the-park home run. Smith crushed the pitch to right center and left the batter’s box in a hurry the way he always does. This time, he knew something great was happening when he saw the Complete Performance center fielder lunge for the ball and miss it. The ball then eluded the right fielder and rolled all the way to the wall for what seemed like an eternity.

“I always run hard out of the box,” Smith said. “When the ball got by the center fielder, I thought I had a good shot at it.”

Smith and Zoom had a hard time in a previous game earlier in the day. Zoom held an early 7-3 lead against the .9ers Baseball Club in pool play but wound up losing 8-7.

Smith had a critical error in the game and the team wound up losing on a walk-off home run, which wound up knocking Zolk’s team out of the tournament with a 3-1 record.

“Billy made an error in the last game,” Zolk said, “but he came back here and had a really good game. He made a nice play early in the game on a 6-3 putout. He helped turn a double play. If a kid makes a mistake, I like putting him right back into the fire.”

Santo Ruiz of Complete Performance Baseball leads off first base in Super 15U Invitational.

Zoom struggled early, trailing 5-2 after three, before exploding. Losing pitcher Chris Suriani baffled Zoom early on with an assortment of offspeed offerings, but the second and third time through the order, he could no longer contain Zoom.

“Their pitcher threw a lot of offspeed, so we tried playing for one to make things happen,” Zolk said. “I think we dismantled their defense a little bit.”

“Their pitcher didn’t have any crazy velo,” Smith added. “The slower ones are just as hard to hit as the harder ones. Once we got the timing down, we figured him out.”

Complete Performance struggled with physical and mental errors.

Trailing by three, Antonio Freidman led off the home fourth with a single and advanced to second on an outfield error before coming in on David Youngwood’s RBI single. Youngwood took second on the throw, took third on a wild pitch, and scored when a Complete Performance infielder hesitated on an infield grounder hit by Harris Roessner.

Chris Cavallante stroked an RBI double to make it 5-5 and advanced to third on the throw home. He scored when Chase Forester reached on an infield hit because the infielder — preoccupied by Cavallante at third — was late getting the ball to first and Forester reached.

Forester stole second — Zoom stole seven times in seven tries — and came all the way around to score on Richie Lee’s infield single. John Sitler bunted for a hit and Lee came all the way home for the sixth run. Sitler took second on the play at the plate.

Anthony Copolla reached on an infield error and Sitler got into a rundown and slid safely into third. He scored when Richie Rosati singled in another run.

Smith followed with his inside-the-parker, knocking out Suriani.

Matt Marino greeted reliever Santino Ruiz by reaching on an infield grounder and then stole second. Friedman got aboard on an infield hit and both scored on Youngwood’s double to left. Cavallante ended the game with an RBI single to left.

“Let the game come to you,” Zolk said. “We did that literally.

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