Soltis’ strong start puts Red Devils 11U in driver’s seat

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 29, 2023

Pat Ruffa got Red Devils 11U rolling with a two-run double.

By Luis Torres

Chris Soltis wasn’t exactly sure what was working for him when he threw pitch after pitch. 

The right-handed pitcher for Red Devils 11U wasn’t trying to do too much. All he wanted to do was throw strikes and let his defense make plays behind him.

He did exactly what he set out to do, helping Red Devils 11U to a 6-4 win over Diamond Jacks Gold 11U in 11U Boys of Summer play on Friday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Soltis spun five innings, allowing three runs, scattering five hits, striking out four and walking just one. He retired the first six hitters he faced and nine of the first 10 batters that came to the plate.

Not bad for a pitcher who said he wasn’t sure what made his stuff tough to hit.

“I don’t really know. I was just throwing, and it was one of my best games I’ve had,” Soltis said. “I was throwing accurately, not fast, but pretty well. They couldn’t hit me for the first four innings, but that was really it.”

Soltis ran into trouble in the fourth inning after Diamond Jacks Gold 11U loaded the bases with two outs after a single, an error and a walk. It was a moment of adversity for Soltis, who had been efficient up to that point by throwing first-pitch strikes.

Soltis got out of the inning unscathed by inducing a groundout to shortstop, keeping Diamond Jacks Gold 11U off the scoreboard.

“They said I was doing pretty well,” Soltis said of what his teammates and coaches told him after each inning. “I threw a shutout through four, and they were all really happy because I was getting my team through the innings.”

Jake Petino of Red Devils 11U slides home safely in the 11U Boys of Summer tournament.

Soltis got some early run support in the bottom of the first inning, and he was a catalyst for the lineup, too. He scored the first run of the game, coming around to score after a Pat Ruffa two-run double opened the scoring. 

Red Devils 11U extended the lead to 4-0 in the frame after Noah Sauwk hit a two-run single and then took a 6-0 lead in the second inning after an RBI single by Soltis. Jake Petino ended up scoring the sixth run on a misplay in the field.

That run support was more than enough for Soltis.

“We ask our kids to make their pitches work for them,” Red Devils 11U coach Tim Ur said. “To throw strikes, and he just located the ball really well today, and even when a really good hitting team is able to connect, our fielders made plays. That’s what we tell our kids. It’s a nine-man game out there and to work together.”

Kyle Ur went 2-for-2 with an RBI and run scored, while Ruffa went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored and Petino went 1-for-2 with a run scored.

Diamond Jacks Gold 11U did make a comeback attempt in the sixth inning by scoring four runs on five hits. Soltis allowed three hits to begin the frame before Kyle Ur was able to get the final three outs to seal the win.

“We’re wrapping up our season here, so it’s good to feel that energy to hopefully keep us going through the weekend,” Tim Ur said.

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