By Will Harrigan
It’s baseball gospel that pitching always wins in the playoffs.
If anyone wants to see a fabulous example of that, look at what MA Show’s 13U squad did this weekend in the Youth World Series.
In the semifinals against the Delmarva Aces – the same club that coincidentally beat the Show to open pool play – Jack Lerro tossed a no-hitter to send his team to the finals.
From there, Luke Fraley took the reins, and the young man who usually plays catcher tossed another 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball himself. The result of that brilliant performance culminated in an 11-3 MA Show victory over US9 Prospects Navy to capture the 13U Blue Division title.
The three runs scored by the Prospects, with two outs in the fifth, was the only inning MA Show’s pitching staff surrendered runs in its final four days, tracing back to their final two pool play games. For his efforts in the semis, Lerro garnered MVP honors for the tournament. The 13U champions outscored their opponents 58-12 on their way to a 5-1 weekend.
“Our pitching was just phenomenal all weekend, top to bottom,” said MA Show and former Pennsville High head coach Matt O’Brien. “Obviously what Jack did was incredible, but what Luke did was just as impressive. He’s a kid that plays catcher, but because we were short on arms we needed him, and he didn’t give up a hit until he ran out of gas.”
A cascade of run support backed up Fraley in the final. The Show would load the bases with no one out to start the bottom of the first and parlayed it into a three-spot.
The first piece of the equation was a sacrifice fly to right off Cole Romano’s bat. After a walk drawn by Jack Pund to reload the bases, Conner Brown singled to double the lead to 2-0. With two men now gone, Tai Wu singled in Pund to make it 3-0 early.
A two-out fielding error cost the Prospects a pair of runs in the second. A can of corn fly ball off Lerro’s bat was dropped, allowing the walked Mason O’Brien to score all the way from first. A batter later, Romano’s opposite field single scored Lerro to make it 5-0 after two innings.
The Massachusetts-based Prospects launched a two-out rally in the fifth to make things interesting.
Jack Carney broke up Fraley’s no-hitter by lacing a single to right. A batter later, Harrison Kane would double in the right-center field gap to score Carney and get the Prospects on the board.
Will Callahan – the tenth batter in the lineup – then launched a triple deep to center field to score Kane and chase Fraley from the mound. A fielding mishap by the Show on a Nick Marini grounder scored Callahan, and a smooth sailing game was suddenly 5-3.
But the Show would rally with a five-spot in the bottom half of the inning to take firm control. A two-RBI double by Brown was followed by a triple by Aidan McDonough to quickly run the lead back to 9-3. O’Brien’s single scored McDonough two batters later for the tenth run.
Romano would score on a wild pitch in the sixth to end the game via the eight-run mercy rule.