Nelphie Lopez of the Bronx Bombers zeros in on a pitch during 17/18 Home Run Classic on Sunday.
By Steve Merrill
Bronx Bombers catcher Danny Witters’ RBI sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the fourth inning was the difference in a 4-3, five-inning victory over the Northern Westchester Outlaws Scout to close out pool play at the 17/18u Homerun Classic.
Witters was set up in the RBI situation after Aidan Zakarewicz led off with a double and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Ethan Acevedo then popped out foul to third to bring up Witters.
“I was looking for something to drive to get the run in,” said Witters, who plays for Walter Panas High School in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. “He gave me a good pitch to hit and I got the barrel on it to get the run in. I’m happy we got the run in and eventually got the win.”
The Bombers opened the scoring in the bottom of the first after Outlaws starter Jaden Lieb walked Ronald Almanzar with the bases loaded to bring in a run.
Northern Westchester would answer in a big way.
In the next half-inning, the Outlaws got the first two runners on via a hit-by-pitch and an error. Bombers starter Emmanuel Ramos struck out the next batter and got a flyout to bring Outlaws catcher Mike Bocchino to the plate. With two out and two on, Bocchino socked a three-run homer over the left field fence to give Northern Westchester a 3-1 lead. The Outlaws, however, were unable to score the rest of the game.
“Real happy with our pitching staff,” Bombers head coach Keith Delvalle said. “Ramos was struggling a little bit but he was able to keep everybody in check.”
Ramos lasted two-plus innings on two hits and two strikeouts. Outlaws starter Lieb went 1.2 innings, allowing one hit, walking five, and striking out three.
The Bombers were able to scratch across two more runs in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 3-3. With two out and no one on, leadoff batter Nelphie Lopez benignly started a rally by getting hit by a pitch. After a Jesiah Carpenter walk and Zakarewicz hit-by-pitch, the bases were loaded for Acevedo. He drilled a ground ball in the hole between first and second, where Outlaws second baseman Quillan Oberto snagged it on the run but could not make the throw in time and everyone was safe.
“Early in the season in a tight, close game it’s important to have that situational hitting,” Delvalle said.
Witters then walked to force in another run and tie the game heading into the third inning.
Bombers relievers Jeremy Ramirez and Zakarewicz shut the door from there. The pair of righties combined to shut out Northern Westchester over three innings, allowing two hits and striking out six.
The Outlaws put one final threat together in the fifth when they put runners on second and third, but back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning. The game ended after five innings due to the time limit.
“Jeremy (Ramirez) came in and did a nice job,” Delvalle said. “He had good secondary stuff and Aidan (Zakarewicz) is the guy we want to see in tight scenarios and he definitely showed up.”
Outlaws leadoff hitter Evan Janowitz posted the lone multi-hit game for either side, going 2-for-3 with a single and a double.
The Bombers moved to 3-0 in pool play with the victory and the Outlaws fell to 1-2. In pool play, the Bombers took care of business against the Rockland Pirates, NJ Titans, and the Outlaws to earn a spot in the tournament semifinals.
At press time, the Bronx Bombers dropped a 9-1 decision in the semifinals to Uncommon 2023 Black.