Timely hitting, pitching, defense lift Kings Park Pride

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 2, 2023

Kyle Nustad was terrific in relief for Kings Park Pride on Saturday at Diamond Nation.

By Luis Torres

Anthony Petrone had one thought when he went to the plate with a runner on first base and the game tied at one in the sixth inning: keep his approach simple.

Petrone wanted to come through in the clutch for his team with outs and remaining at-bats at a premium.

Petrone came through and then some. He jumped on the first pitch of his at-bat, lacing a go-ahead opposite-field RBI triple. His go-ahead hit ended up being the game-winner as Kings Park Pride defeated Hayner Academy Barnstormers, 3-1, in 14U Independence Weekend Firecracker play at Diamond Nation in Flemington on Saturday.

“I could see that the ball was tailing down the line,” Petrone said. “I knew when it was down, my coach was screaming three. It was just go three. It being a 1-1 game, it just felt good getting the go-ahead RBI.”

Petrone finished the game by going 2-for-3 with his go-ahead RBI and a run scored. He said he knew his go-ahead triple was going to get down as the ball tailed away from the right fielder. He got on his horse once the ball went down to reach third base.

Anthony Petrone of Kings Park Pride delivered a huge triple to steer his team to victory.

“I was just thinking (hit the ball) to right center,” Petrone said, “not try to do too much. Just go at-bat by at-bat, and I hit a ball hard down the line and did the job.”

Kings Park Pride also got a tremendous effort from relief pitcher Kyle Nustad, who entered the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with two runners on and one out.

Hayner Academy Barnstormers had just tied the game after their starting pitcher Brian Selig hit an RBI groundout. Nustad escaped the jam on two pitches, getting a double play lineout to first base.

Nustad settled into a groove after that, tossing 3⅔ scoreless innings, scattering two hits, walking one and striking out one as he earned the win.

“Kyle Nustad did a really good job of just mixing his pitches and staying ahead of guys, and we managed to win the game,” Kings Park Pride coach Brian Frers said. “It’s never easy coming in with runners in scoring position. Knowing our defense made a good play, it gives him huge momentum, and it takes momentum away from the other guys and puts it back on us.  “It makes his life a little bit easier for sure.”

Frers added his team struggled defensively in a loss earlier on Saturday to Ascent 2027. He preached that they had to be better on that end in the game against Hayner Academy Barnstormers, and they heeded his words.

Kings Park Pride turned two double plays and made several diving catches, including one by Petrone in the second inning.

“We struggled in the first game, so we really wanted to make an emphasis on making plays that we should have and not giving free outs to the other team,” Frers said. “We did a better job of that, for sure. We had a couple of key outs. It was not just the plays; it was when they happened to really make sure that we kept the momentum, and it changed the game.”

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