Strong pitching, defense carry Hamilton A’s to 4-0 Super 16 WS finish

By Bob Behre | July 7, 2023

Henry Jimenez of the Hamilton A’s had an RBI single in the second inning.

The difference between winning and losing in baseball is often a matter of inches, as the Hamilton A’s and Colossal Select 16U witnessed on the last play of their Super 16 Diamond Nation World Series game on Friday morning.

Hamilton closer Tristan Bonilla made a good pitch to Colossal’s Anthony Kay with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position. Kay fought it off and sent a raindrop into shallow right field.

“I felt like Tristan jammed him,” said Hamilton second baseman Joey Ditta. “I thought at that moment the ball was either right to me or over my head. I knew if the ball dropped the game was over.” No one knew for sure when Ditta broke hard from his position into right field if he’d ever reach the looper.

“Our right fielder was charging hard but I was able to get it in the web of my glove,” said the rising junior at Steinert High. The game was indeed over, but it was the A’s who prevailed after the two teams played a little back and forth heading into Colossal’s final at bat with the 1:50 time limit about to expire.

The victory secured for Hamilton, 4-0 and with a 35-10 run differential in the tournament, a berth in the Super 16 Top 25 tournament on Aug. 14-18 at Diamond Nation. The top five teams in the Super 16 standings qualified for the Top 25 event. Hamilton stood in second place, behind Team Elite Liberty (4-0, 47-10). The rest of the qualifiers are; Valley Dogs 16U Red (4-0, 32-13), Diamond Studs (3-1, 18-13) and Langan Baseball (3-1, 15-13).

Hamilton’s righthander Peter Lanausse put his team in position to win with five-plus innings of work in which he permitted three runs, two of which were earned, on four hits. He struck out six and walked three.

“My slider and curveball were great today. They set up my two-seamer on the inside corner,” said Lanausse, a rising junior at Hamilton West. “I was working the slider outside and my curveball in for strikes.”

Cole Bagnell singled to center field leading off the bottom of the sixth against Lanausse and coach Tony Collora promptly pulled him for Bonilla. The rising junior and Lanausse’s high school teammate, quickly induced harmless pop outs to right field and first base to put the A’s an out away from the win. But Mark Tinkelenberg singled to left field to send Bagnell – already on the move with two outs – racing to third base.

Jaxon Miller of Colossal Select 16U singles in fifth inning and later scored.

As Bonilla worked the count to Kay to 2-2, Tinkelenberg stole second to put the potential winning run a single from home plate. But when Kay popped up Bonilla’s fifth pitch, he came one of Ditta’s steps shy of becoming the hero.

“Peter battled,” said coach Collora of Lanausse’s performance. “He really mixed his pitches well. When he’s throwing strikes he’s hard to hit.”

Catcher Henry Jimenez was in the middle of a three-run in the second inning that staked Hamilton to an early 4-0 lead. JImenez came to the plate with no outs and after consecutive walks to Remy Feniello, Danny Leon and Eric Green. Jimenez worked the count to 1-1 before singling through the left side to score Feniello for a 2-0 lead.

“I like it inside and I like fastballs,” said Jimenez. “But I try not to sit fastball.” Jimenez did get a fastball at 1-1 and he did get it where he likes it, inside. “I liked it and just ripped it.”

Connor Collora followed with a bouncer to the left side that went for an infield hit and an RBI and Green kept coming from second base when the throw to first got away. That 4-0 lead looked ominous for Colossal Select 16U (2-2, 15-15), especially considering Lanausse hadn’t given up a hit through the first two innings.

Ditta was in the middle of Hamilton’s first inning rally when he drew a leadoff walk, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Alex Winter, Hamilton’s No. 3 hitter, delivered Ditta with a sac fly to left field.

Colossal was not cowed by the four-run deficit and used some really good at bats in the third inning to get back in the game.

Austin Schoell started the three-run rally with a one-out single to center field. Sal Mesete reached on a throwing error and Jaxon Miller drew a walk to load the bases with one away. Jack Cappuccio then hit a sac fly to right to score Schoell with his team’s first run.

Lanausse, in a rare show of fading command, walked Brayden Markhart and Bagnell. The second free pass brought home Mesete to trim the deficit to 4-2. Lanausse, however, reasserted himself with a strikeout to end the inning. But he was far from safe.

While Jaxon Miller and Kay were piecing together five scoreless in relief for Colossal, the South Jersey club would draw to within a run in the fifth courtesy of a two-out, none-on rally. It was Miller, stationed at the very bottom of the Colossal order, who started things with a two-out single through the middle.

Miller stole second and third with Cappuccio at the plate and scored when the throw to third base got away. Cappuccio followed with an infield single and stole second to put the heat back on Lanausse. But the righty buckled down, once again, and got a strikeout to end the threat right there.

Miller and Kay combined to limit Hamilton to one run, which was unearned, over five innings, striking out three and walking three. They permitted just one base runner after Andrew Maddalena led off the fourth with a single up the middle.

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