Talented Northeast Pride 17U keeps pedal to the metal

By DN WRITING STAFF | September 9, 2023

Ryan Jones doubled in a run in Northeast Pride’s four-run first inning.

Rich Bevensee

On a roster jam-packed with high school baseball players who have landed a Division 1 college scholarship, there may not be a single Northeast Pride 24 National ballplayer who has decided to sit back and cruise through the fall season.

Their reasons for playing at 110 percent vary, for sure. 

Some want to prove to peers and observers that they’re worthy of a scholarship. Some may want to maintain their competitive edge and improve their skills because college playing time is not guaranteed. And others just don’t know how to lay off the gas pedal.

All of these reasons may have been in play Friday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington. Alex Ramos, Sam Barrouk and Gabriel Alvarez combined on a three-hit shutout and Aidan Gallagher doubled and homered to power Northeast Pride to a 9-0 victory over Bell Ringers 2024-Aikens in the 17/18U Wood Bat Championship Powered By Victus. 

The top eight teams from the Wood Bat Championship, and from the Super 17 Fall Invitational (Sep. 22-24), qualify for the Columbus Day Showdown on Monday, Oct. 9.

Ramos, a senior at Goshen Central (N.Y.) High and a Florida International commit, surrendered three hits and one walk and struck out four over his three shutout innings.

The 6-3, 190-pound righthander, whose fastball tops at 92 and sits comfortably in the high 80s, said his reason for playing hard, even with a college scholarship in his back pocket, was simple.

“Why would you take it easy? You just want to get better,” Ramos said. 

Ramos, whose 78-mph slider and 74-mph curveball stymied hitters when  he wasn’t pumping his fastball, offered some insight as to why the mental strain may always be a part of his drive.

“I feel it’s a little more pressure (to have made a college commitment) because it used to be about proving people wrong, and now it’s about proving people right,” Ramos said. 

Barrouk, a senior righty from Dallas (Pa.) High headed for St. Bonaventure, did not allow a hit over two innings while striking out six and walking two. Gabriel Alvarez, a senior at Don Bosco Prep and a Longwood commit, pitched a scoreless sixth inning with two strikeouts.

Pride’s hitting star was the Hofstra-bound Gallagher, who doubled home two runs in the fourth inning and blasted a towering two-run homer to left in the sixth.

Gallagher, a 5-11, 195-pound senior outfielder from John Jay High in East Fishkill, N.Y., clearly is playing hard, judging by the way he attacks fastballs.

“Playing in college, you don’t get a fall off,” Gallagher said. “You’re playing all the time – fall. winter, spring, summer – you play every season so might as well get used to it now and build up to it.”

He added that finalizing the decision-making process has allowed him to take the field more at ease.

Dan Escalante of Northeast Pride sparked a four-run first inning with an RBI groundout.

“I committed pretty late so I’m just kind of enjoying playing now,” Gallagher said. “The pressure’s completely off now. There were a few tournaments, like in Georgia, where I played very loose and nothing came out of that ,so I got very tense. Now that the decision is out of the way, I can enjoy it again. So I feel like it’s much better once you commit.”

The Northeast Pride roster is riddled with Division 1 recruits. Besides the aforementioned schools, Pride players are headed to Bryant, Canisius, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, UConn, Fordham, George Mason, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Longwood, UMass, Mount St. Mary, Old Dominion and Seton Hall. 

“It’s just plug and play – put guys out there and let them do their thing,” Pride coach Mike Petroski said. “It’s been a good summer with a talented group. It’s been exciting.”

Petroski said he understands why his players, and any player with a college commitment under his belt, plays full throttle instead of taking a season to relax or rejuvenate.

“With the way the state of college baseball is now and the way it’s going, you have to continue to play. You can’t put the brakes on,” Petroski said. “Five years ago guys could take time off and get prepared. Now you have to continue playing and continue to get better at baseball. If you stop, someone else is going to get an opportunity.

“Rosters are revolving very quickly at a lot of college programs, and it’s hard for the younger kids because college baseball is a business now. So these kids need to keep getting opportunities, keep getting at bats, so they can catch up and keep up with the older guys on a college roster.” 

Northeast Pride seized control of the game in its first at bat. After Prime began the game with three straight walks, Danny Escalante drove in a run with a groundout, Zander Condeelis scored on a wild pitch, Reece McCarthy scored on a throwing error which was induced by a double steal, and Ryan Jones’ RBI double made it 4-0.

In the fourth, Gallagher’s two-run double and Christian Soto’s sacrifice fly gave Northeast Pride a 7-0 lead. Gallagher polished off the Bell Ringers with a towering two-run shot in the sixth. 

Aiden Pearson singled and doubled for the Bell Ringers and J.P. Murray singled to account for the team’s three hits. 

Northeast Pride had its Friday night game against Full Count Baseball canceled due to inclement weather. Pride plays Prospects Baseball Blue on Saturday at 5:20 p.m.

The Bell Ringers had its game with the Prospects wiped out by the weather, as well, but will play Full Count on Saturday at 5:20 p.m.

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