Michael Hanna of Bergen Crush gets set to take a rip in Mother’s Day Classic pool play.
By Rich Bevensee
Even when Bergen Crush 14U right-hander Frank Sommo doesn’t have all his pitches working on a given day, he is fully confident what he does have in synch will accomplish the goal.
By his own admission, Sommo didn’t have a feel for his curveball in his team’s pool play opener against Loyalsock Township of Williamsport, Pa. So he became resourceful and pounded the strike zone low enough to keep bats away from his offerings.
That kind of thinking will certainly help the young righty as he moves into high school ball next season. Sommo allowed just two hits over 4⅔ shutout innings while teammate Michael Hanna went 2 for 2 with an RBI in leading the Crush to a 6-0 victory over the visitors from Pennsylvania on Sunday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
The Bergen Crush was to play the Hatfield Towamencin Titans (N.Y.) in their second pool play game Sunday. Prior to losing to the Crush, Loyalsock defeated Hustle Baseball Academy 5-1.
Sommo permitted just one hard-hit ball, a second inning double by Logan Kirby which hugged the left field line. He struck out six and walked three while not allowing a single Loyalsock runner to reach third base.
“Definitely one of my better outings today,” said Sommo, whose fastball touches the upper 70s. “I was mostly working the fastball inside-outside low. Didn’t throw the curve a lot today, wasn’t really feeling it. I knew I didn’t have it when the kid (Kirby) hit it. He knew it was coming. I just try to throw strikes and I know they’ll make the plays for me.”
Sommo, headed for St. Joseph’s By The Sea in Staten Island in September, yielded to lefty Thomas Collins, who preserved the shutout by striking out three of the five batters he faced over the final 1⅓ innings.
Sommo has good reason to trust his teammates, who were aggressive on the basepaths and provided timely hitting. The Crush scored twice in the first inning, notched three runs in the third and scored one more in the fifth.
“We like to be aggressive on the bases, and we like to get our good hitters up with guys in scoring position so they can do their damage,” Crush coach Dave Group said. “We’re starting to come together now and the guys are engaged in the dugout. Definitely playing better baseball as we go.”
“In the beginning of the season it was a little rough,” Hanna said. “There were a few losses that shouldn’t have been losses. The energy wasn’t there. But since then attitudes have changed and everyone is performing better.”
Crush leadoff man Jack Walsh went to work right away against Loyalsock starter Drake DuPont, singling to start the bottom of the first inning, and after he stole second he scored on a Hanna single up the middle. Hanna later came around to score by stealing second, taking third on a balk and scoring on a wild pitch.
Hanna, bound for Don Bosco Prep next fall, was the catalyst again in the third, getting the Crush cranked up with a leadoff walk before stealing second and third and swiping home on a passed ball. Also in the third, Junzen Sarza walked, took second on a passed ball, and scored when Aiden Ogando sliced an opposite field base hit to right. Ogando came around to score on an Ethan Lee RBI single to right for a 5-0 Crush lead.
“Hitting has been pretty good so far this season,” said Hanna, the only batter with two hits in the game. “My main thing has been trying to drive the ball up the middle, and keeping my head on the ball, not trying to strike out. Most of the time I’m trying to get on base, so if I take a walk, I take a walk.”
One more Crush run came across in the bottom of the fifth. Pinch-hitter Jayden Luftman reached on a walk, stole second and scored on a two-out infield throwing error.
That was the same inning Loyalsock provided the web gem of the game, victimizing Hanna, who earlier reached on a single up the middle. With no out, Sarza lined out to shortstop DuPont, who dove back to second to nab Hanna leaning the wrong way.
DuPont permitted five earned runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts in three innings. He was relieved by Nolan Rall, who gave up an unearned run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in two innings.