By Sean Reilly
Cade Kohler took on a new role over the weekend by moving into the leadoff spot for the Top Level Athletics at the Diamond Nation 12U August Showdown.
“I had been batting third,” he said. “It’s different when you have to see the first pitch of the game and try to be the first one on base.”
His results over the four-game tournament were nothing short of magnificent. He went 8-for-11, walked twice and scored eight runs as his team from the Albany, N.Y., area surged to the championship.
The capper came on Sunday afternoon, when Kohler went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and one RBI in a 10-1 championship victory over Team Francisco Notorious 9.
The victory occurred in the final game of the season for the Athletics, who went 39-9-1 playing a very strong schedule.
Kohler’s work out of the leadoff spot also allowed his teammates to flourish, especially the two players who hit behind him.
Chase Mears, the No. 2 batter and the tournament MVP, had a 9-for-10 weekend, with three walks, four home runs, two doubles, a triple, 11 runs and 14 RBI.
He was 2-for-3 with a triple in the championship game. His only out came in his last at-bat, when he actually hit a ball that dropped into center field, only to have a runner forced out at third.
The third hitter in the Athletics lineup was Carter Robilotto, who had a 6-for-9 weekend with five runs, three home runs and 10 RBI.
Robilotto was 2-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI in the championship game. His last at-bat ended with one of the longest balls ever hit on Field 2 at ‘The Nation,’ with his three-run home run traveling over the tall batting cage building beyond the right field fence. Without a tape measure handy, let’s just say the ball traveled a loooong way.
The Athletics entered the game with 99 home runs on the season, and finished with 102. They are clearly ready to make the move up to the larger field when they graduate to the 13U level in a few weeks.
“I’m looking forward to that,” Mears said. “I’ll miss the small field, but it will be good.”
In the final, the Long Island-based Team Francisco scored in the top of the first. Evan Frangas and Cayden McCormick started the game with singles and a walk to Connor Naughton loaded the bases.
Trey Alberto followed with an RBI groundout that left runners at first and third before Mears, the Athletics’ shortstop, was the point man in an inning-ending 6-6-3 double play.
Chase Mears of Top Level Athletics was named the 12U August Showdown MVP.
In the 16 innings in which the Athletics came to bat over the weekend, it scored in 12. Nine of those featured multiple runs. That included a game-breaking six-run second inning against Team Notorious that resulted in a 6-1 lead.
Antonio Rivera led off the frame with a home run and Brady Heritage followed with a single. The next two batters struck out before Nicky Desso reached on a cue-shot single toward shortstop.
That sent up the top of the order, which meant more offense followed.
Kohler responded with a RBI grounds rule double to left center for a 2-1 lead. Mears, with runners on second and third, ripped a two-run triple to right center.
With Robilotto at the plate, Mears scored on a straight steal of home. Robilotto then hit a home run.
The other runs came in the fourth. Desso hit an RBI single before Kohler singled. Mears hit his ball to center that forced Desso at third. Robilotto followed with his massive home run for the nine-run lead.
“I struck out in my first at-bat, and that put me down, but my teammates brought me back,” he said. “I came back with a home run and then hit that one.”
The Athletics, who outscored their tournament opponents, 55-9, also received a well-pitched game in the final. Mason Sansone pitched a four-hitter, with four strikeouts and three walks.
But most important of all, beyond the results on the field, the Athletics had fun while doing it.
“This was a great season,” Robilotto said. “We only had nine losses, playing great teams from national organizations. We try to play our best baseball every game. When we hit the ball, the team gets up, we get up, everyone gets up, our fans are great, and that’s how we win games.”
“We have fun, and that makes us play better as a team,” Kohler said. “And this was a great weekend. It was awesome.”