Wladyka pitcher Marcelo Harsch fires away against SBA Scout during Father’s Day Classic.
By Will Harrigan
There are not many travel programs in the state that play baseball as fundamentally well as Bergen County-based Wladyka Baseball teams do.
Between their pitching and scraping together runs in a game where opportunities were at a premium, their 15U National squad displayed that on Saturday.
Facing a good SBA Scout club from Rockland County, NY, Wladyka National notched a 3-0 victory in the Father’s Day Classic at Diamond Nation. Both teams only managed two hits on their ledgers, but Wladyka putting the ball in play in big moments proved to be the difference.
“In games like these, you only get a few opportunities. Our guys had the right approach and we’re able to push a few runs across when we needed to,” said Wladyka National coach Mike Chiaravalloti, also an assistant coach at Don Bosco Prep during the high school season.
A pitcher’s duel broke out between Wladyka starter Marcelo Harsch – who just finished his freshman campaign at Seton Hall Prep – and SBA Scout’s Zachary Taylor, with each hurler tossing three shutout innings to begin the game.
SBA Scout put two men on in scoring position with no out in the bottom of the third, but Harsch impressively recovered by striking out the next two batters and inducing a weakly hit grounder to himself to work out of the jam. The opportunity would be the best SBA Scout would have all night.
The initial Wladyka breakthrough came in the top of the fourth.
Brendan Epstein – who had beat out a would-be double play ball on a fielder’s choice – was quickly moved to second on a single by Dennis Mulhearn. A passed ball allowed Epstein to take third base, where Jayden Pena capitalized by flying out to center for a sacrifice fly, giving Wladyka National a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, it was Epstein who would double the lead via another sacrifice fly. His flyout to right field for the second out of the inning drove home Jamie Zee, who had walked to leadoff the rally and later stole third base.
Wladyka would add one more insurance run in the seventh, when Logan Auten would draw a walk with the bases loaded off an SBA Scout relief pitcher to account for the game’s final run.
Meanwhile, Harsch and relief pitcher Drew Slowkowski combined to toss a gem for the winners, with each hurler giving up one hit. Harsch fanned eight batters in four innings of work.
“Both of those guys had their location down today. They keep the ball low in the zone and any contact they give up is usually a pop up or a ground ball,” said Chiaravalloti, who had a terrific career at Bloomfield High.