Batista Wood of Baseball U. NY was in command during his team’s pool play victory.
By Joe Hofmann
Baseball U’s Battista Wood got his feet wet as a varsity relief pitcher this past spring at Cicero North Syracuse High.
The junior-to-be wants a bigger role next spring.
If Sunday’s performance is any indication, he just might get it.
Wood was in command for most of the game – and so was his team’s air-tight defense – as Baseball U. NY came away with a 4-1 victory over Complete Performance Baseball in a 15U pool play game at Diamond Nation.
Baseball U. NY finished 2-1 and outscored its three opponents 16-9 in a very solid run at the School’s Out tournament this weekend.
“He’s a great kid and he did a really good job for us,” winning coach Lloyd Quick said after the game. “He changed speeds and threw strikes. He did a really good job of keeping them off balance. He wasn’t overpowering, but he followed a game plan and executed that very well.”
Wood (3 hits, 9 strikeouts, 4 walks, one run allowed) wasn’t exactly overjoyed with his work. He struggled locating his fastball but found the strike zone using his curve, which kept opposing hitters off stride.
“I could have done better,” he said. “I threw too many balls. I can do better. I didn’t have my ‘A’ game.”
But he was good enough to keep Complete Performance guessing, especially with runners on.
“If you could do just that: Throw strikes, locate, and use your offspeed pitches, you’ll be successful and that’s what he was today,” Quick said.
And when Complete Performance did make contact, Wood’s defense made the plays.
When Upstate New York-based Baseball U. put the ball in play, Complete Performance (5 errors) got itself in trouble.
In the top of the very first inning, Baseball U. scored twice and gave Wood all the cushion he would need.
Danny Jackson reached on a throwing error and was wild pitched to second base before coming around to score on R.J. Benedetto’s RBI single. Benedetto wound up going all the way to third when the ball eluded the Complete Performance right fielder.
One out later, Hunter Corkran plated Benedetto with an RBI single.
In the second, Complete Performance’s sloppy defense again victimized losing pitcher Evan Soto.
Baseball U’s Ben Snyder led off with a double that was misplayed by the left fielder and, one out later, scored when Luke VanMarter reached on an infield error.
Wood, meanwhile, worked out of whatever turbulence he encountered.
In the first, he allowed Anthony Blackford’s two-out double but then fanned the cleanup batter on three pitches to strand Blackford at second.
In the second, he allowed Anthony Irving’s leadoff single and then walked Joe Sutera but struck out Sam Lundgren with a fastball and then induced Andrew Miles to hit into a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the inning. Baseball U’s second baseman Danny Jackson and shortstop Brady Bouchard combined to turn the twin killing with first baseman VanMarter.
In the fourth, Wood got out of his toughest trial of the game with a pair of strikeouts and only allowed one run.
Alex Palacios walked to lead off for Complete Performance and took second on Connor Pane’s basehit. After Wood fanned Blackford, Ruiz reached on a fielder’s choice that saw Pane reach second because the throw from Jackson to Bouchard was late, loading the bases.
With Irving at the plate, a pitch skipped past Snyder behind the plate but Wood was undeterred and he wound up striking out Irving and Joe Sutera.
He struck out Sam Lundgren and Andrew MIles to begin the fifth but then walked Sean Kohan and Chris Suriani (on four pitches) before Wood was pulled for Reed Bouchard, who struck out Dean Lauracella to get out of the jam.
Bouchard pitched a scoreless sixth and the left-handed DeBenedetto didn’t give up a run in the seventh.