Vickers’ guile, timely hits send Aces past Bandits

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 19, 2023

Dustin Hendrix is an imposing presence at the plate for Aces Baseball.

By Joe Hofmann

Aces Baseball coach Joel Lux weighed his options.

Take a little risk and go with a soft-tossing lefty against a hard-hitting lineup? Go with his hardest throwers?

Then he rolled the dice and chose lefty Ryan Vickers.

It was a winning move.

Vickers had Bandits Baseball Club hitters swinging from their heels, coming up empty-handed and, ultimately, defeated.

Vickers combined with reliever Aiden Ruettimann to shut down the Bandits on the way to a 4-3 victory in the 18U Wood Bat World Series at Diamond Nation on Tuesday morning.

Vickers’ rarely, if ever, reached 70 MPH with his fastball and instead relied on curves and changeups. He allowed one run on two hits, walked four and fanned three over four innings.

He was hardly spectacular but he was good enough to keep his team in the game.

“They are good hitters and they sit on the fastball,” Lux said, “so he kept going with the offspeed.”

Ruettimann, meanwhile, came on to start the fifth and pitched his way out of a seventh-inning jam that had enemy runners on second and third with one out before he struck out Ethan Gray with a fastball and retired Nate Lewis on a grounder to third to end the game.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” Ruettimann said about the Lewis at bat. “It was a big pitch and I needed to hit my spot. If he hits it, then he hits it. But we were able to make the play.”

The Aces were handcuffed for much of the game by Bandits pitcher Declan Lush – the owner of an 84 MPH fastball and the exact opposite of Vickers.

But the Aces were able to get to reliever Aiden Chernawski, who allowed two runs in the sixth that broke a 2-2 tie.

Jase Burdon (3-for-3) led off the Aces sixth with a base hit and came around to score one out later on Dustin Hendrix’s RBI single to left. When the throw to get Burdon went home, Hendrix hustled his way to second and wound up scoring on Ethan Ernst’s single to right.

Ruettimann retired the side 1-2-3 in the sixth (including two strikeouts) but the Bandits threatened to win it one inning later.

Bobby Vale walked and stole second and, one out later, Brady Maccarone reached on an infield hit before Joey Conti singled in a run.

Declan Lush of Bandits Baseball Club struts off after striking out the side.

With things looking especially bleak for the Aces and Ruettimann, Lux paid him a visit on the mound.

“I told him to change speeds on his fastball and work the changeup on the outside corner,” Lux said.

Two outs later, Ruettimann had wriggled out of it.

“He’s a great outfielder,” Lux said. “He’s not really a pitcher but he throws strikes.”

The Bandits scored the game’s first run in the second when Dylan Roberts was hit by a pitch, Maccarone doubled, and Gray reached on an RBI infield hit.

The Aces were able to tie the game at 1-1 when Hunter Runser doubled and scored on Burdon’s base hit. They took the lead in the fourth when Hendrix singled and wound up scoring on a throwing error.

The Bandits tied it in the fifth when Conti singled to lead off, stole second, and came around to score on Lewis’ single.

When watching the Vickers-Lush matchup early on, it looked like a rout was well on the way. The Bandits seemed to send a parade of hitters to the plate in the first and second inning against Vickers.

Lush? He blew away the Aces and struck out the side in the second (one looking at a nasty curve for strike three) and had four Ks in the first two innings.

But the mismatch never materialized.

In the end, the pitching tandem of Vickers and Ruettimann got the job done.

“(Vickers) was nervous,” Lux said. “It was the first game he’s pitched. We needed extra arms and after the first inning, he settled down.”

Vickers got out of several jams.

In the first inning, he walked Lewis to lead off and then Lush hit a grounder back to the box. Vickers wound up throwing the ball into centerfield – nowhere near the intended target, shortstop Brayden Delaney. Fielding one’s position is another difficult adjustment for an inexperienced pitcher.

But the gritty Vickers wound up getting No. 3 hitter Cole Camara on a force, fanned Chernawski, walked Alex Detonmasis, and then struck out Alex Asermely.

He issued two-out walks in the second and fourth but got out of both innings unscathed.

“He pitched amazing,” Ruettimann said. “He gave up just one run and then we were able to get the bat on the ball.”

Ruettimann knows the kind of trouble pitchers such as Vickers can cause.

“Slow pitchers are our soft spot,” he said. “Guys who throw in the 80’s, we can hit. We do better against the kids who throw harder.”

Share With A Friend:

Comments 1

  1. FYI, Vickers is a double under ager and this was his first time facing this level of competition. Also, those fastballs you were clocking were actually cutters. Might want to put that in your article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *