Wild steal of home highlights NJ Cardinals, Clubhouse Scout tie

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 24, 2022

Clubhouse Scout pitcher Kyle Egidio fires away in Thursday afternoon’s Super 17 game.

By Will Harrigan

In several ways, Thursday afternoon’s Super 17 Invitational contest between the North Jersey Cardinals and Clubhouse 2023 Scout was uncommon.

First, there was a full seven innings played with a deadlock after the time limit was up, as this well-played game ended in a 2-2 draw. The terrific pitching and heady play involved left neither side deserving of a loss.

The latter point brings us to a remarkable occurrence that happened in this one.

With two outs in the top of the second, Pascack Valley’s Zach Novakowski – playing catcher for the Cardinals – stole home from seemingly out of nowhere, beating out a play at the plate once Clubhouse Scout knew what was going on.

Steals of home plate are rare but not unheard of, but the context of this one has a twist. It turned out to be accidental and it was nearly blown up by friendly fire along the way.

“(Zach) thought the bases were loaded and just started jogging home. And it’s one of those things no one noticed, except one person over there who almost ruined it,” joked Cardinals coach Rico Bellini, who pointed to assistant coach Tommy Delvecchio when making that comment.

After Zachary Taddeo – a Madison product – took ball four, Novakowski started lightly jogging toward home as the catcher tossed the ball back to Clubhouse starter Kyle Egidio.

North Jersey Cardinals pitcher Jack Amirata starts his windup during Super 17 Invitational on Thursday.

Novakowski probably would have crossed home plate with no stress had Delvecchio not inadvertently drawn attention to an already bizarre play by yelling at Delvecchio to return to the bag. That dialogue alerted Egidio to fire the ball back home, where Novakowski slid in safely to cap off the wild sequence.

Connecticut-based Clubhouse Scout would respond in the bottom half of the inning, as Greg Nivison would drive in Brandon Chung on a sacrifice fly to left field. Chung had reached on a one-out walk issued by Cardinals starter Jack Amirata.

Clubhouse Scout would take the lead an inning later when Jack Marshall of Fairfield Prep (CT) roped a hard single to center, cashing in on a leadoff walk drawn by Jaron Klein.

Madison’s Colin Melvin doubled in what turned out to be the game’s final run in the fourth, scoring Governor Livingston standout George Provel, who had reached on an error to knot things up at 2-2.

The four pitchers involved – Amirata and William Forrester for the Cardinals, along with Egidio and A.J. Formato for Clubhouse Scout – pitched a terrific ball game altogether, as each side was only able to muster three hits.

The Cardinals finished up their week at Diamond Nation 2-2-1, something Bellini sees as fitting. Clubhouse Scout – tying their first and last games – will return to Connecticut with a 2-1-2 mark for the tournament.

“Our hitting was up and down, and that’s why our results were so evened out. But our pitching was excellent all weekend, and that will keep you in games,” Bellini said.

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