Zone Select’s P.J. O’Rourke leads off first base as Orioles’ Timothy Manuelian holds him on.
By Will Harrigan
From the outset, it was clear that Wednesday morning’s game between the Staten Island Orioles and Zone Select was going to be a grind.
Both lineups worked good at-bats deep into counts, and a well-played game naturally followed suit. But once the Orioles got into the Zone Select bullpen, they essentially walked their way to a comfortable victory.
A seven run fourth inning – one in large part due to six walks and two hit batsmen issued to the Orioles – propelled the Staten Islanders to a 12-3 victory over Zone Select in the 18U Blue Chip Prospects showcase at Diamond Nation.
The Orioles, who survived several innings of Zone Select threatening at the dish and mitigated damage early on, are now a perfect 3-0 in the event. Zone Select fell to 1-3 with the defeat.
“It wasn’t going to be easy today, and I think everyone here saw that,” said Orioles coach Jerry Sidman, who is also the head coach at McKee Tech on the high school circuit. “Nick (Lapointe) really battled and got out of a few jams to keep us in it. He deserves a lot of credit for that.”
In that huge fourth, the only base hit came off the bat of Timothy Manuelian. Manuelian, a Monsignor Farrell (NY) product who went 2-for-2 with a double, sacrifice fly, and two RBIs in an impressive showing. Manuelian plays first base and has been garnering Division 1 looks this summer.
Lapointe had an adventurous first inning, loading the bases with no one out, striking out the next two batters in six total pitches, but then surrendering a pair of walks to force in two runs. Nick Artura and Jordan Febles drew the run-scoring free passes from Zone Select.
Zone Select, a club based in southwestern Massachusetts, put seven men on base off Lapointe in the next two innings, but only a Febles RBI single to score P.J. O’Rourke amounted to a run scored in the third, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
The Orioles responded with a two-spot of their own in the first. Marco Cundari’s RBI single was followed by a sacrifice fly off Matt Forlano’s bat to level things up. Those plays scored Jason Hannah and Manuelian, who singled and walked, respectively.
An RBI double off Hannah’s bat was chased by a sacrifice fly deep to right field off Manuelian’s bat to double the lead to 4-2.
T.J. Laino, the three-hitter for the Orioles, then got in on the offensive parade by slicing a triple down the right field line to score Hannah and extend the edge to 5-2.
“Hannah, Manuelian, Laino, and Cundari are the first four in the order for a reason. They have been delivering for us all summer. What they did today is nothing new,” Sidman said.
Sidewinding right-hander Victor Rivera – the lone New Jersey native on the Orioles who plays his high school ball for Jefferson in Morris County – pitched a scoreless top of the fifth to close things out for the Orioles.