Connor O’Brien of Lower Bucks Minutemen fires a pitch to the plate on Saturday in the Spring Fever.
By Will Harrigan
The Wladyka Baseball 14U American squad is no stranger to Diamond Nation.
Three times has the club come to Flemington for a tournament this spring, but, in its previous two occasions, ran into buzzsaw clubs from out of state that prevented them from advancing.
Going into Sunday, the third time may well be the charm for Wladyka American, as it defeated a good Lower Bucks Minutemen squad by a 5-3 margin in Pool A action at the Spring Fever tournament. Contested in a sweltering heat, the game was the only one of the day for both sides.
“I actually thought we played a very good game overall. We got terrific pitching from Nick (O’Kay) and we got timely hits in big spots. That’s a formula for success for us,” said Wladyka American coach Dom Cirilli.
In five innings of work, O’Kay gave up just one earned run on three hits, making way for Ayden Rivera to come in and seal the victory with two scoreless innings.
Trailing 3-2 after four complete, the surge that would put Wladyka over the top started with a walk, as they often do.
Charlie Wall’s free pass started things off, and two batters later, he’d reach third on a one-out single off the bat of A.J. Romero.
With runners now at the corners, a balk charged to the Minutemen would plate Wall and move Romero into scoring position.
The go-ahead hit came off the bat of Jesse Calfayan – the last hitter in the Wladyka order – to score Romero and give the winners a lead they would not surrender.
“That two-out hit by Jesse was huge. It just goes to show that everyone in our lineup contributes and is a valuable piece to our puzzle,” Cirilli said.
A sacrifice fly off the bat of Sawyer Stein scored O’Kay – who had doubled to start the rally – to add an insurance run for Wladyka American in the sixth.
Wladyka Baseball, which procures some of the finest baseball talent in the greater Bergen County area, got off to a blazing start in the opening inning.
Christian Anzaldo opened the game with a hard single to center, which was promptly followed by a double roped down the left field line by Rivera to put two men in scoring position.
O’Kay would help himself out by doubling home Anzaldo, moving Rivera to third and giving the winners a 1-0 advantage. Rivera would come around to score two batters later on a wayward pitch that found its way to the backstop
The Generals squad from southeastern Pennsylvania got one run back in the home first.
An RBI double by Lower Bucks Minutemen three hitter Tyler Bergkoetter scored Carlton Crane – who had walked earlier in the inning – to trim the deficit to 2-1.
Two Wladyka errors allowed the Minutemen to take a 3-2 lead in the fourth, which was capped off by an RBI groundout off the bat of Minutemen extra hitter Keller Bradley.
Both teams were back in action on Sunday morning. Wladyka American faced Complete Game Colonials, while the Minutemen squared off with North Shore Freedom Blue.