C.J. Orrego scores go-ahead run for Wladyka Baseball American off of grounder hit by Wes Hellings.
By Sean Reilly
Matt Chapman eagerly awaited his start for Wladyka Baseball American on Friday evening at Diamond Nation, as his team opened play at the 17/18U Wood Bat Championship.
Wladyka Baseball American was making its fall season debut, after resting for several weeks following a very active summer campaign.
For Chapman, a senior at Cranford and a recent Salve Regina commit, it was his longest break from live action since last winter.
His first pitch was hit hard to center field by Evan Ravalli of Locked In Baseball Expos 23.
Did Chapman feel any sense of panic? No way.
“It kind of set the tone that they were going to be good all game and scrappy,” he said. “I had to pitch backwards and keep them off-balance. The Expos are always a good program, so that set the tone that I was going to have to compete.”
Chapman allowed one unearned run, scored by Ravalli in the opening frame, over four innings of work and the Wladyka bats came alive as the game moved along for a 7-4 victory in Flemington.
Wladyka Baseball American followed that game with another strong showing, by defeating the Diamond Jacks Super 17U, 3-1, for an impressive start in the event.
Wladyka Baseball American played its third and final game against Prospects Baseball Academy 17U (0-2) on Saturday night. There are no playoffs, but the top eight teams in the nearly 60-team field will earn berths to the Columbus Day Showdown next month.
Chapman, a right-hander, went four innings. He allowed three hits, with seven strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter.
“This was my first time on the field in three or four weeks,” he said. “It was good to get back. It’s always good to play in the fall, and this is my last one. I felt good with my curveball and slider, and getting ahead with my fastball, too.”
Locked In Baseball Expos, which which moved to 1-1 with a 5-3 decision over Prospects Baseball Academy 17U later on Friday night, took the early lead against Wladyka when Ravalli followed his hit in the bottom of the first by stealing second, taking third on a wild pitch and scoring when Brendan Callanan reached on an error. The Expos would also put runners on second and third with one out, but Chapman struck out the next two batters.
Chapman got out another jam in the second inning. He struck out the first two batters, but a walk to Cooper Hnatov, single by Zachary Hoover and walk to Trey Davis loaded the bases. Another strikeout ended the inning.
Wladyka Baseball American, meanwhile, was being held in check by Expos starter Davis. The senior right-hander from Morristown didn’t allow a hit until Anthony Baglino’s two-out single in the fourth scored Harrison Certo, who reached on a walk before stealing second.
Wladyka Baseball American broke the tie in the fifth. C.J. Orrego led off with a single, Pete Lewicki walked, and they moved to second and third on a wild pitch. With the infield now playing in, the next batter struck out. Wes Hellings then hit a grounder to the left side of the infield, but an errant throw to the plate scored Orrego with the go-ahead run. After another strikeout, Ryan Devlin hit a two-run single for a 4-1 lead.
Wladyka Baseball American added three more runs against a reliever in the sixth. James Hinspeter walked, stole second and third, and scored on a wild pitch with Baglino at the plate. Baglino, a senior from
Bergen Catholic, then homered over the fence in left field. Wallace Kirkpatrick followed with a double, and later scored when Hellings hit a sacrifice fly to left.
Despite trailing 7-1, and with the time clock running out, Locked In Baseball mounted a major threat in the bottom of the sixth.
Connor Watson reached on a throwing error, Callanan was safe on an infield hit and Joseph Barlovic singled to right-center to load the bases with nobody out. James Grizzetti then walked on a full count before William Mumby grounded out to bring in another run. Christopher Cohen walked on a full count to reload the bases, and a walk to Hnatov made it a three-run game with the bases loaded and no time left on the clock.
The next batter, however, grounded out to second to end the game.