Luke Crawford rips a single the other way to score the go-ahead run for Super 17 2021.
Stifled by an array of 9ers Baseball pitchers over five innings, the Diamond Jacks Super 17 2021 squad rallied for six runs in the top of the sixth inning and a 6-5 victory in a Garden State Scout League game on Wednesday at Diamond Nation.
Chris Markovich contained the potent 9ers Baseball lineup over the final 3.2 innings to get the win and had to escape a two-on, two-out jam in the bottom of the sixth, the 9ers last at bat.
“It was good to get the win against them,” said Markovich. “They’re good guys and I’m friends with a lot of them.” Markovich was throwing mostly heaters, just rearing back and challenging the deep 9ers lineup. “I’m not used to pitching. I haven’t pitched much the last few years. I’m trying to get ready for the high school season.”
Markovich anticipates getting work as a closer for his high school team, Immaculata. The senior righty and infielder is committed to Boston College.
Markovich’s good work on the mound — he limited the 9ers to one run on four hits over the 3.2 innings, struck out one and walked two — enabled the Diamond Jacks to stay close enough that a big inning could get them back in the game. That inning came in the sixth when the Super 17 2021 mashed six hits and sent 11 batters to the plate.
The 9ers had shut down the Diamond Jacks by using a different pitcher each inning. Chris Ellison, Gavin Martin, Dylan Sakele, Kiernan Hollander and Lucky Perretto shut out the Diamond Jacks on three hits over the first five innings. They combined to strike out five, walk four and hit a batter.
But it would take two more pitchers for 9ers Baseball to get through the sixth as the Diamond Jacks bat sprung to life.
Speedy leadoff batter Matt Miceli, a Stony Brook commit, opened the sixth by beating out a bouncer to third base. Monmouth-bound Nick Czarnecki drew a walk and both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Charlie Granatell (Elon) followed with a bouncer up the middle that second baseman Andrew Schmid stopped but could not make a play on as Miceli scored from third with the Diamond Jacks first run of the game. The hits and runs drip would continue.
Cleanup hitter Alex Duffy delivered Czarnecki with a single through the middle. Kyle Adorno then hit a bouncer to shortstop Jordan Nitti, who tried to cut down Granatell at the plate. But the Don Bosco Prep outfielder slid under the tag for the third run of the inning. Jack Nugent followed with a single to load the bases. That set the stage for Abel Saft (Kutztown) who had been swinging a lethal bat all evening.
Saft, the Diamond Jacks No. 8 hitter, had singled hard to center field in the fifth inning and flew out deep to the 9ers’ Auburn-bound center fielder Mike Bello in the second. This time he worked the count to 3-1.
“Coach yelled to look for a pitch in my zone,” said Saft about the 3-1 offering. “I got a fastball middle-in.”
Saft hit the pitch as hard as he had in his previous two at bats, slashing it down the left field line for a two-run double that suddenly tied the game at 5-5. “I was swinging it well coming into the at bat and I felt good all night.”
Luke Crawford stepped in with runners on second and third and still just one out and quickly fell behind 0-2. Crawford had singled to center in his first at bat and appeared zoned in. “I was just looking to put something in play that would give us a chance to score a run home,” said Crawford. “He gave me a pitch outside and I took it the other way. I knew if he threw me something there I could take it that way.”
Crawford’s single to right field scored Nugent to give the Diamond Jacks their first lead at 6-5. Reliever Matt Villipiano, to his credit, struck out the next two batters to end the threat. That quick close to the inning very nearly enabled 9ers Baseball to tie or even win the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Markovich, in full challenge mode, got Luke Malave to fly out deep to left fielder Czarnecki for the first out. But Markovich walked Ellison to almost ensure he’d have to deal with the rugged top of the 9ers lineup. Ellison reached second on a wild pitch with No. 9 hitter Dylan Jennings batting. So, Markovich would need to get two outs with the tying run in scoring position. He quickly righted the ship by striking out Jennings for the second out.
But leadoff hitter and Monmouth-bound Schmid hit a bouncer to the left side that the shortstop Miceli snared deep in the hole. Schmid had an infield hit without a throw but, more importantly for the Diamond Jacks, Miceli’s play forced Ellison to stop at third base.
The intensity ramped up a bit when Nitti, the No. 2 hitter, worked the count to 2-0. But Markovich got him to pop up to shallow center field to end the game, leaving the dangerous No. 3 hitter, Bello, in the on-deck circle.
“That was cool,” said Markovich. “That really was a closing situation.”
Nitti had a single and a double and scored two runs for 9ers Baseball. Bello drew a walk and scored and delivered a run with a sac fly. Jay Bant doubled and Kevin Novobliskey had a single.