By Joe Hofmann
Looking for a fastball? Then N.Y. Gothams righty Jordan Steiger will slip a curve by you.
Expecting a curve? He’ll deal you a fastball … or a changeup.
For seven innings, Steiger gave a lesson in Pitching 101 to Ascent 13Us.
He taught it well.
His sleight-of-hand was too much for Ascent 13 to handle in the Independence Weekend Firecracker championship game.
Steiger’s brilliance on the mound – and at the plate – led the Gothams to a 7-3 victory for the 13U title at Diamond Nation on Monday night.
“I felt amazing,” Steiger said, and Ascent certainly would have no argument with that.
Steiger finished with a flourish, striking out the side, including the final two batters of the game looking.
He fanned eight and walked four in going the distance, allowing just three hits.
“He really commanded his curveball and change,” Gotham’s coach Jason Rodriguez added. “He controlled the game.”
Early on, Steiger had to figure out the home plate umpire’s strike zone. Once he did, there was no stopping him.
The only damage he allowed came as the result of an error.
In the second, he struck out Ascent’s Cole Nazionale but the ball eluded catcher Jason Salera and Salera’s throw to first was in the dirt, allowing Nazionale to reach base with one out. After Steiger fanned Keegan McShea, he walked Nate Hagner on a 3-2 pitch. That set the stage for No. 9 hitter Kayden Moyer’s long two-run double to right.
But from that point, Steiger completely dominated, allowing just one more hit (Eli Paradise’s RBI double in the sixth).
Steiger had a big game at the plate as well, stroking a first-pitch RBI single for his team’s first run in the second inning, bringing home Jordan Huang, who reached on an infield single. Steiger later added a double in the fourth and a walk in the sixth. He’d score on Jack Ancona’s single to center..
The Gothams attack, meanwhile, showed a balance of both power and small ball in amassing seven runs on eight hits over six innings.
Rodriguez’s team took the lead with three runs in the third and never looked back.
Ancona was hit by a pitch to lead off against starter and loser Paradise. Salera and tournament MVP Andrew McCormick (RBI) followed with singles before Liam Zeller hit an RBI grounder and Nico Harris followed with a sacrifice fly, making it 4-2.
In the fifth, Salera (2-for-4, 2 runs) singled and came home on an RBI triple to center by McCormick (2-for-3, 2 RBIs, 2 runs). Harris (2 RBIs) brought McCormick home on a groundout to short.
Rodriguez loved both the power and the situational hitting.
Liam Zeller of NY Gothams is the 13U Firecracker MVP.
“We had productive outs with the sacrifice fly and the groundouts,” he said. “McCormick hit a bomb. He really hit well this entire tournament.”
The offensive support was more than enough for Steiger, who lives in Manhattan but will be commuting to Xavierian in Brooklyn in September. The school has a strong baseball program and Steiger wants to be a part of it.
“My coaches have really helped me,” he said. “I’m practicing a lot.”
Steiger wasn’t the only Gothams pitcher to shut down an opposing lineup. Caleb Chou stifled the Diamond Jacks in a 9-2 Gothams victory in an earlier round.
“We faced them earlier and they are usually one of the teams to beat,” Rodriguez said. “Every time we face them, we know that we have to play well to beat them.”