Nick Terefenko of Baseball U. New Jersey 16U worked a walk here but not before getting low-bridged by that ball in the upper right hand corner of the photo.
When you are playing in a deep pool it can be difficult enough just to tread water. But the TKR Reds did much better than that, despite falling just short of a Super 16 World Series playoff berth.
Righthander Derek Braithwaite came in to close out what was a four-run lead and had to walk a mighty thin tightrope in Baseball U. New Jersey’s final at bat. But all was good for the Reds when Jon LoAlbo’s lined drive died in shortstop Devin Colon’s glove, preserving a 7-5 victory.
The win improved the Reds pool play record to 3-1, the team’s only hiccup coming against the stacked Diamond Jacks Super 16U, which had already secured the pool championship and subsequent playoff berth with a 3-0-1 record.
“Hey when you’re in a pool with a great program like Baseball U. and a team like the Diamond Jacks who have a loaded lineup top-to-bottom, you have to battle,” said TKR Reds coach Dustin Javins. “Our guys came out and competed.”
Yes they did. The Reds, based in Staten Island, put the bat on the ball and each of the four pitchers they sent out against Baseball U. survived some serious offensive pressure, stranding a total of nine runners in all.
The heat truly ratcheted up a notch in the bottom of the fifth when Joe Sclama laced a shot into the right-center field gap for a two-out, two-run double that shaved the deficit to 7-5 and chased Nick Hoheb to third. Javins called on Braithwaite at that point to get the last out with the potential tying run at second base.
Braithwaite promptly hit Dom Salida with a pitch to load the bases and put the potential winning run aboard. In case that wasn’t dramatic enough, Braithwaite then went 2-0 on cleanup hitter LoAlbo. LoAlbo, clearly sitting dead red, ripped a fastball on a line and up the middle. But Colon, who had already contributed an RBI double in the Reds’ four-run second inning, raced over and snared the liner for the game’s final out.
“We were up 7-3 early, so we were trying to get some guys some work, plus we were out of the playoffs,” said Javins. “But our guys are starting to get better with the timely hits. That’s how you win games.”
The Reds built an early 5-0 lead off that big second inning that included Anthony Sylvester’s two-run single and Colon’s RBI double inside of first base. Devin Malvasio triggered the rally with an infield hit and eventually scored when Steve Scarfone singled and the ball was kicked around in right field.
Joe Ciancimino, TKR Reds’ No. 2 hitter, had started the scoring in a physical way, launching a shot over the left field fence for a solo home run in the top of the first. Ciancimino had a big tournament. He tossed a two-hit shutout and struck out 13 Staten Island Orioles on the way to a 4-0 victory on Tuesday. Ciancimino’s fastball was clocked at 89 in that game. The rising junior at St. Joseph By The Seas in Staten Island is developing into a two-way Division 1 recruit.
Baseball U., as one would expect, climbed back into the game, beginning with a run in the second inning and two more runs in the third to trim the Reds’ lead to 5-3.
Reds starter Mike McGoraty got himself in quite a pickle in the second by walking LoAlbo and Jackson Hyman to start the inning before Joe Figliolino singled through the left side to load the bases with no outs. McGoraty averted the big inning though by inducing a 4-6-3 double play that scored LoAlbo and getting Mike Nasti to line out to left field.
Baseball U. rallied again in the third but, again, McGoraty extricated himself from what could have been an even bigger inning. Tommy Ocasal walked and Mike Todaro singled down the right field line to put runners on the corners with one out. Jack Ryan got Ocasal home when he beat out an infield grounder and Sclama walked to load the bases. Salida then singled hard to left field, scoring Todaro to draw Baseball U. within 5-3. But Ryan was nailed at the plate trying to score from second, preventing further damage.
The Reds picked up two very big insurance runs in fourth without the benefit of a hit. Tim Yorks reached on a throwing error with one out and Sylvester drew a walk. Reliever Figliolino appeared about out of the inning when he got Corsaro looking at strike three for the second out. But the righty suddenly lost the zone and walked Mateo Bravata then Colon and Ciancimino to force home two runs.
Mike Lonergan relieved in the fourth for the Reds and got through the inning clean despite Figliolino’s two-out single and subsequently hitting Johnny O’Connor with a pitch.
Nick Terefenko got things started in the bottom of the fifth for Baseball U. by drawing a leadoff walk. Todaro singled through the middle with one out and Hoheb drew another walk to load the bases. Reliever Nick Ballesterio got the next batter waving at a curveball in the dirt for the second out, but when he surrendered the two-run double to Sclama, Javins had seen enough. Fortunately, for the Reds, Colon got a great jump on LoAlbo’s liner.
Baseball U. concluded its tournament at 2-2.
NOTES: Baseball U. New Jersey 16U is steered by a pair of Montclair State University assistant coaches, Pat Knight and Casey Gaynor. Knight is a Cranford High and George Washington grad and Gaynor is a Toms River East High and Rutgers grad. Javins is an assistant at Felician University in Lodi.
The Super 16U World Series playoffs begin 8 a.m. on Friday. A total of 14 teams qualified for the playoffs in three separate brackets, Red, Blue and Purple. The Red and Purple fields have five teams and the Blue Bracket has four teams.