Lukas Tsai draws a crowd after slamming a two-run HR for Wladyka American.
Wladyka American may not have made the playoffs but the Bergen County-based squad finished their 16U Blue Chip Prospects experience strong by defeating the Southern Maine River Rats Futures 15U, 14-2, on Thursday morning at Diamond Nation.
“I think we gave up too many runs to make the playoffs,” said Wladyka American coach Paul Urbanovich. “We did a good job of hitting and putting the ball in play this tournament.”
Wladyka won three of its four pool play games but a 9-1 loss to the Pa. Shockers in its tournament opener on Monday proved a death knell for the team’s playoff hopes. The Shockers are 3-0 and have surrendered just three runs to Wladyka’s 16, so have nearly wrapped up the pool title. The Shockers face the Taconic Rangers this afternoon in their final pool play game.
Wladyka American’s bats stood front-and center in its victory over the River Rats, which hurt itself, too, with some defensive lapses.
Lukas Tsai, a rising junior at Bergen Catholic in Oradell, delivered the noisiest shot of the game when he launched a two-run home run in the fifth inning to extend Wladyka’s lead to 12-2. The lefty-hitting Tsai pulled a fastball over the right field fence.
“He got two strikes on me with fastballs on the outer half,” said Tsai, who nonetheless worked the count to 3-2. “He came back with a fastball on the full count and I was sitting on it. I got under it a little but I hit it pretty well.”
Wladyka struck for four runs in the top of the second to take the early lead. Andrew Cronin singled home two runs in the middle of the rally and the other two runs scored on River Rats errors. Jack Cannizzaro had triggered the rally with a leadoff bloop double down the left field line.
The River Rats (0-4) scored twice in the second without the benefit of a hit to draw within 4-2. Aaron Kiss and Austin Croteau scored the runs and, to top off the weird inning, River Rats starting pitcher Carson Black struck out four batters.
Wladyka American’s two-run third inning was set up when Lukas Egenhauser and J.T. Psirogianes drew back-to-back walks leading off the inning. Both would score on River Rats errors to lift the lead to 6-2. Clayton Poiley’s RBI single keyed a four-run fourth as Wladyka broke it open and boosted its lead to 10-2.
Cannizzaro started the rally in the fifth with a one-out double to left field and Tsai followed with his blast to right. Danny Sanchez, Cronin and R.J. Fiore then drew consecutive walks before Tommy Kelly drilled a single down the left field line to score two runs and close out the scoring at 14-2.
“We’ve been mashing the ball pretty well,” said Tsai.
Matt L’Hommedieu, Fiore and Cronin combined to limit the River Rats to two runs on one hit, striking out 11 and walking two in a tidy tag team effort.
“We’ve been playing pretty well,” said Urbanovich. “We won a tournament here a couple weeks ago and we put it together offensively this week.” Wladyka American scored 29 runs in its four pool play games in the 16U BCP. “A big part of that is we’ve had a good approach at the plate.”
Gabe Harmon entered as a pinch-hitter in the fourth for the River Rats and led off the inning with a single over third base. It was the first hit of the game for the River Rats. The righthander also entered in relief with two outs and runners on first and second in the fifth and struck out the only batter he faced looking at a curveball.