Photo credit: Major League Photos
Alex D’Ambrosio hasn’t pitched much this season for Sportika Gallagher Elite Blue but, given an opportunity to show his wares, he found plenty of buyers during Diamond Nation’s 14U Garden State Invitational on July 2.
D’Ambrosio was handed the ball by coach Nick Franke prior to his team’s tournament opening game against the NJ Jays, and the rest is history as they say in the story books. The rising freshman at Marlboro High School pitched a no-hitter as Sportika Gallagher defeated the Jays, 10-0.
D’Ambrosio spotted an effective fastball and curveball and tossed in a few changeups for good measure in a game that gave the Sportika Gallagher’s Elite Blue squad a great jumping off point to a tournament in which it would go 4-2 before falling in the second round of the playoffs.
“My curveball was on,” said D’Ambrosio. “I definitely threw some nice ones. I got a couple strikeouts on 0-2 curveballs. I saw this as an opportunity to show coach (Franke) that I’m a really decent pitcher and can win a ball game for him.” D’Ambrosio threw just 54 pitches in the no-hitter.
Advanced analytics are not required to determine whether a pitcher is throwing well when he retires one batter after another. D’Ambrosio struck out five and walked two in the four-inning game ended by the 10-run mercy rule. “The kid competed,” said coach Franke. “He’s throwing fastball, curveball, changeup and he’s close (to where we want him to be). We want to help him develop.”
Few no-hitters are achieved without some big time plays behind the pitcher and D’Ambrosio was quick to point out a couple key moments by the Sportika Gallagher defense.
“Our third baseman, Chris Collina made a great play and throw to first on one play,” said D’Ambrosio. “Our shortstop Christian Yoo made another great play on a ball hit up the middle.” On the grounder to Yoo, D’Ambrosio reached for the ball and tipped it toward the left side of second base. Yoo charged in, scooped the ball up and fired to first base for the out.
“Alex is a player,” said Franke. “A kid like that you’re not afraid to give the ball to in the first game of a tournament.”
D’Ambrosio is also Sportika Gallagher Elite Blue’s leadoff hitter and plays shortstop and third base when he’s not on the mound. He’s has reached base at a .445 pace during and struck out just twice this season. Sportika Gallagher’s 14U squad has been playing tournaments for three-and-a-half months so that is no small sample size. An ideal leadoff man, Alex has flashed his speed, too, with three triples.
D’Ambrosio has also pitched for his middle school team and has seemed to take a liking to getting the call to the mound. “Yes, I’d like to pitch more,” he said.
And the freshman-to-be has already figured out that winning baseball games and pitching no-hitters are not one-man operations.
“I want to thank my defense for the no-hitter,” said D’Ambrosio. “They played great behind me.”
Says coach Franke, “Alex has been a leader for us and that’s important. We preach family and providing life lessons. That’s what we’re all about.”