The Clubhouse 2021 puts Wladyka away with big sixth

By Bob Behre | August 19, 2020

Connor Bradshaw roped a double to right-center field on this swing leading off the sixth.

Sebastian Holt capped a five-run sixth inning with a three-run opposite field home run as The Clubhouse 2021 turned a tight contest into an 8-1 victory over Wladyka Baseball-2 in the Super 17 Invitational this morning at Diamond Nation.

The lefty-hitting Holt latched onto a fastball up and away and was even a bit surprised himself watching the ball sail beyond the left field fence. As Holt enjoyed his home run trot, the umpires called the game due to the time limit, giving the homer the appearance of a walk-off.

“He threw me all fastballs the first time and I rolled over on one,” said Holt, a University of Maine commit. “I just had to make an adjustment the next time and I was sitting on the fastball. I didn’t think it was gone. It just carried.”

The Clubhouse coach Mike Porzio had a different analysis for Holts’ bomb.

“He’s a strong guy,” said Porzio. “He hit four home runs in our last tournament. He’s starting to get hot.”

The Clubhouse pounded out five of its seven hits and scored seven of its eight runs in its last two at bats. That supported a gritty effort by Christo Garrelt, who permitted just one run on seven hits over six innings. The rising senior righty bound for Elon University struck out six and walked one.

The Clubhouse boasts a lineup loaded with Division 1 recruits and had plenty of noisy outs before the floodgates opened in the fifth and sixth innings.

Missouri commit Carlos Pena of Connecticut-based The Clubhouse swings big.

“You just have to keep hitting barrels and the ball will start falling for you,” reasoned Holt.

Gianno Merlonghi singled home Kevin Luke to put The Clubhouse ahead, 1-0, in the bottom of the third, but Wladyka, which was actually making hard contact with Garrelt’s high-80s fastball, answered in the top of the fourth. Gabriel Francisco, Wladyka’s leadoff hitter, started it with a one-out double down the left field line. Keith Duffus followed with a single to right that chased Francisco home with the tying run.

Meanwhile, Wladyka starter Ethan Brochin had gamely held The Clubhouse bats at bay through almost all of three innings. But after Brochin hit Luke with a pitch with two outs and nobody on in the third he had to leave the game with an injury. Merlonghi’s RBI single came off reliever David Miller.

Miller had a 1-2-3 fourth but got himself into trouble in the fifth. He walked Tyler Kipp leading off the inning before Jake Horowitz bunted Kipp over. But Miller air mailed his throw to first base and both runners advanced a base. Dennis Gamester drew a one-out walk to load the bases before Luke hit a potential double play bouncer to shortstop. Shortstop Dom Ciani got the forceout at second base but the throw to first got away. Kipp had already scored from third and Horowitz came all the way around from second on the error to give The Clubhouse a 3-1 lead.

Wladyka Baseball-2 catcher Dan Maglio chats with pitcher David Miller in sixth inning.

Connor Bradshaw, a Pepperdine commit, triggered the five-run rally in the sixth with a leadoff double to right-center field. Missouri commit Carlos Pena then reached on a throwing error. Bradshaw scored on a wild pitch and Pena came home on another infield miscue that enabled Luke Fisher to reach. Kipp (2-for-2, walk, RBI, 2 runs), who had great swings in three trips to the plate, then singled to center. Holt stepped in with two outs and launched his home run.

Porzio chided his players for their “better late than never” rally.

“I think if you gave our guys a choice they’d sleep until noon,” said Porzio, after his team’s 8 a.m. game. “Being ready to go by 7 a.m. and, I think, because of COVID, not being able to get swings in the cages, we started a little slow. Our expectations are high with this group. It’s an all Division 1 team.”

NOTES: Pena is a 6-3, 210 lefty-hitting outfielder, first baseman, righty pitcher who has been clocked at 92. But his bat and overall athleticism is his likely ticket to a spot in the next MLB Draft. … Francisco went 2-for-3 with a double and scored a run. … Wladyka right fielder Richie Sica had a busy second inning. He chased down Luke Fisher’s deep drive leading off the inning and raced in and made a diving catch on Michael Hernandez’s sinking liner for the second out. Sica then chased down Kipp’s double in the gap to keep in to two bases before ending the inning by settling under Horowitz’s fly ball. Four righty hitters all hitting the ball to right field and Sica was all too happy to oblige defensively.

… Garrelt surrendered three hits in the fifth but allowed no runs. Justin DeStaso single with one out and P.J. Albarella followed with a single to right. DeStaso beat Bradshaw’s excellent throw to third base but overslid the bag and was tagged out by third baseman Fisher. After Ciani singled to keep Wladyka in business, Garrelt got out of the jam with a strikeout. … Wladyka-2 fell to 2-2 in the tournament.

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