L.I. Titans’ R.J. Azarieh touches the plate after his three-run bomb in the first inning.
By Luis Torres
On a hot day with the temperature easily in the mid-90s and the turf field probably being a little bit hotter, Long Island Titans Cashman coach Mike Prisco wanted to see how his team would respond, especially his offense.
And just like the heat, Long Island Titans Cashman’s bats were scorching at the plate on Thursday against Morris County Cubs 16U White. Behind a three-run home run from R.J. Azarieh in the opening frame, Prisco’s team cruised to an 11-0 win in four innings in 17/18U Blue Chip Prospects play at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
With the win, Long Island Titans Cashman finishes the tournament with a 2-1-1 record. It was a much-needed win over Morris County Cubs 16U White to end the tournament with a winning record.
“It was great, especially in this heat,” Prisco said. “Bats were contagious. R.J. had that home run, and it was just pass the baton after that. Each guy in the lineup squared up the baseball, and I (told) them we had good baserunning, good defense and good pitching.”
All of those facets came into play, but the bats early on were the catalyst for the win.
Augusto Del Carmen opened the scoring with an RBI single, and two batters later, Azarieh smacked his home run on a full count, making it a 4-0 game.
“I just saw a ball over the plate, a fastball, and I got my hands to it early and drove it over the left-center field wall,” said Azarieh, who went 2-for-2 with two runs scored. “I wasn’t expecting it to go over, honestly. I thought it was going to hit the fence, but I saw it go over the net. It was a good feeling. It set the tone for our team.”
“It brought life to the dugout and took some pressure off our pitchers,” Prisco added.
Starting pitcher Anthony Nannini took over from there. The lefty wasn’t overpowering on the mound, but was efficient, pitching to contact and letting his defense do its job behind him.
He ended up tossing 3⅓ scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and walking two batters. Patrick Kempasky got the final two outs of the contest, escaping a bases-loaded jam by inducing an infield fly and then getting the final out via a flyball to center.
The two pitchers had plenty of breathing room with how their teammates were swinging the bats.
Following a four-run first inning, Long Island Titans Cashman added five more runs in the second inning, with Alex Rubin lacing a two-run double to right-center field. Prisco’s squad added a run each in the third and fourth inning, finishing the game with 14 hits, with Azarieh’s long ball being the highlight.
Prisco was pleased with how his team came out, with essentially nothing really left to play for. He’ll take the win, even if it meant enduring the heat.
“I wasn’t sure, it being the last game of the week and everything for us, how would we come out, but we definitely responded very well, heat or no heat,” Prisco said. “Maybe it helped us.”