Babe Ruth 14s Showed Competitive Spirit, Advancing to Mid-Atlantic Regional Quarters
BLAZE OF GLORY: Jude Blaser takes a swing last week at the Babe Ruth Middle Atlantic Regional. Blaser, a Princeton resident, helped the West Windsor-Plainsboro 14U all-star team reach the quarterfinals of the competition, which was held at Switlik Park in Hamilton. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Even though the West Windsor-Plainsboro 14U all-star team had already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals of the Babe Ruth Middle Atlantic Regional, it kept scrapping as it faced SORENSCO (Southern Rensselaer County, N.Y.) in a pool play game last Wednesday night.
WW-P yielded two runs in the top of the first inning in the contest played at Switlik Park in Hamilton but answered back quickly as Jude Blaser knocked in a run in the bottom of the frame. Jack Durbin added an RBI in the bottom of the third to knot the game at 2-2.
After SORENSCO broke the deadlock with two runs in the the top of the fourth, Kenny Schiavone blasted a homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the sixth to narrow the gap to 4-3.
SORENSCO tallied two runs in the top of the seventh but WW-P made one last gasp as James Tao led off the bottom of the inning with a single but was stranded as the game ended in a 6-3 win for the New York squad.
WW-P manager Andrew Liggio was proud of the way his club battled to the end in a contest that ended around 11:15 p.m.
“We were in the state tournament before and we knew we were moving on and had another game to play and we were really flat so it was a great response here,” said Liggio, whose squad includes eight players from Princeton and four from Cranbury.
“We knew were moving on out of pool play and they fought like hell against a very good team.”
The squad played some good ball against SORENSCO but couldn’t string hits together in big spots.
“Our two best attributes are defense and contact hitting,” said Liggio.
“We don’t hit many balls out of the park, we happened to today with Kenny. We usually put a lot more singles and doubles in play and I think that is the only thing that failed us tonight The defense was there.”
Liggio credited Dan Harlan, Blaser and Peter Hare with holding the fort on the mound.
“We held back our front line pitchers to get ready for the quarterfinals,” said Liggio.
“It was a great job for some of those other boys to step up and eat an inning here or eat an inning there.”
While WW-P ended up falling 8-2 to Atlantic West (N.J.) in the quarters on Thursday to see its tournament run come to an end, Liggio was proud of what his group had accomplished in getting that far.
“We have exceeded what our initial thoughts were, but we are getting better each game, so we keep raising our own goals,” said Liggio.
“They are playing well together; they are playing for each other, which is the best thing. They have come together so quickly as a team. The boys have been great and the ride has been excellent.”