Jett Sevilla of Warehouse Indians makes contact on seventh-inning hit that scored the winning run.
By Sean Reilly
Jaiden Valdez was hoping to do something to spark his Warehouse Indians 27 Black team in the top of the seventh inning of its 15U Grand Slam tournament opener on Saturday morning at Diamond Nation.
Valdez, the No. 11 hitter in an 11-man lineup, did that, and a whole lot more.
With one out, a runner on first and his team two runs down, Valdez hit a two-run inside-the-park home run to the gap in right center field.
The Indians added another run in the inning, and Valdez, pitching his second inning of relief, got a game-ending strikeout with runners on first and second in the bottom of the frame as the Indians beat the TKR Reds in a 7-6 thriller in Flemington.
“There was a lot of pressure going on,” he said of his at-bat. “I had to clear my mind from it. I just wanted to get something going. Pitching, there was also a lot of pressure, but I got it done and came through at the end.”
The Indians couldn’t capitalize on a number of scoring chances against tough Reds’ starter Anthony Scaglione through the first six innings, but found better luck against the bullpen in the seventh.
The first batter in that inning struck out, but Ishaam
Jasani walked on a full count before Valdez stepped to the plate.
His line shot found a gap, and the speedy Valdez headed toward third before being waved home. He scored the tying run without a throw to the plate.
“It was a fastball,” Valdez said. “I wanted to go oppo and I did. When he sent me around third, I was thinking that I had to get there.”
The Warehouse Indians weren’t done. Leadoff man Ray Tavarez followed with a single just inside the left-field line. Tavarez moved to third after two wild pitches sandwiched around a strikeout. Jett Sevilla was the batter with Tavarez on third, and he hit a high pop that the second baseman circled under, but didn’t catch. The play allowed the go-ahead run to score. It was the first time that the Indians held a lead in the game.
Gio Bonsangue of TKR Reds is greeted by teammate Thomas Formica after hitting home run.
Valdez started the bottom of the inning by getting a strikeout and ground out to shortstop. The Reds then got a single and full-count walk, before Valdez got his third strikeout to close out the victory.
The Indians had plenty of chances throughout the contest, notably leaving the bases loaded without scoring in the first, and putting runners on second and third with nobody out in the second inning, and again failing to score. They scored their first two runs on balks, in the third and fourth innings.
The TKR Reds, meanwhile, built a lead on opportunistic two-out hitting.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, when Gio Bonsangue hit a two-out home run over the fence in left field.
Another run was scored with two out in the second inning. After the first two batters were retired, Nick Bacova walked, and Dylan Jenkinson (2-for-3) hit an RBI double to left center.
After Tavarez scored on a two-out balk for the Warehouse Indians in the top of the third, the Reds extended their lead to 4-1 on Anthony Rao’s two-run stand-up triple to right field with two out.
Chris Cardinoza scored on a two-out balk for the Warehouse Indians in the fourth, and the Central Jersey-based team added two more runs in the fifth for a 4-4 tie. The first run in that frame scored on an error, and the tying run scored on a two-out double lined past third base by Jack Korneski.
The TKR Reds, with players from Staten Island and New Jersey, scored their fifth two-out run on an RBI single by Michael Avitto in the bottom of the fifth.
The Reds lead was extended to 6-4 on a bases-loaded walk to Bonsangue with nobody out in the sixth inning, but Valdez buckled down by getting a force at the plate, a strikeout and ground out to shortstop to prevent further damage.
Tavarez, Korneski, Sevilla, Cardinoza and DiPasquale all finished with two hits apiece for the Warehouse Indians, who immediately followed the victory with a 5-1 wire-to-wire triumph over the Locked In Baseball Expos.
The TKR Reds lost a 5-4 decision to Baseball U Pa. Anthracite later in the day.
The Warehouse Indians will face Baseball U Pa. Anthracite, also 2-0, with a first-place pool finish on the line on Sunday at 4:30.