Wladyka pitcher Dan Paris’ pitch is coming right at you in Saturday’s game against Baseball U. Pa.
By Will Harrigan
The Wladyka National 16U baseball team learned an important lesson on Saturday morning, even in victory.
That lesson reads as follows: Insurance runs are as good as gold.
Several key insurance additions proved to be the difference in a roller coaster game, as Wladyka National held off a late rally by Baseball U. Pa. to hang on, 8-7, at Raritan Valley Community College in Mid-Summer Classic action.
With the victory, Wladyka National improved to 1-1 in the tournament, while Baseball U PA fell to that same mark.
“It just goes to show how important it is to keep hitting even when you have the lead. It was the difference in the game today,” said Wladyka coach Chip Benway, who has also piloted the Union City High School program for over a decade. “I look back to the third inning, when Jayden (Pena, a Don Bosco Prep product) took second on a ball in the dirt with two outs. The next batter singles him in, and that’s the difference.”
But before they could wrap up their initial victory of the tournament, Wladyka withstood two hard charges from their Keystone State opponents.
Loading the bases on three walks in the sixth and final inning, David Turlip singled in a run to get the Baseball U. rally started. A batter later, Pat Higgins traded in an out for a run by lacing a sacrifice fly to center, cutting the deficit to 8-6.
Andrew Summa would do the same a batter later, grounding in Reece Weinberg, who had walked, to record the inning’s second out, but shave the Wladyka lead to 8-7. Finally, Wladyka reliever Charlie Wingfield would induce a grounder to shortstop off the bat of Brandon Wozniak’s to ice the game.
Nick Shirey’s RBI single – coupled with Dennis Mulhearn scoring on a wild pitch after reaching on an error – a half inning earlier, proved vital for Wladyka.
“If you look, everyone but one guy I think got on base today,” Benway said. “That’s the true definition of a team effort and what we needed to win.”
Wladyka benefitted from another fielding error in the fourth, as Wingfield took two bases on an error in the outfield following his single. Brendan Epstein would come through with a huge two-out hit three batters later to run the Wladyka lead to 5-0.
Two more walks – free passes killed Wladyka all day – and an infield single by Higgins loaded the bases. That set up a crushing three-run triple by Summa that went right down the left field line and instantly turned a five-run advantage into a tight 5-3 game. A batter later, Wozniak’s sac fly to right cut the deficit to 5-4.
Back-to-back-to-back RBI singles by Mulhearn, Wingfield, and Verona product Ryan Radigan had set the winners up with a 3-0 lead after half an inning. Nick Gilpin and Pena walked to lead off the game and get the rally going.