August 19, 2020

WW-P Babe Ruth 13s All-Star Team Fights Hard As it Falls in Southern New Jersey State Tourney

SMOOTH STROKE: Travis Petrone of the West Windsor-Plainsboro all-star team shows his hitting form last Friday in the Southern New Jersey Babe Ruth 13-year-old state tournament at Bacon Field in Hopewell. Outfielder/pitcher Petrone helped the WW-P squad battle hard as it fell 7-3 to Nottingham on Friday and 8-5 to Ewing/Hopewell a day later to get knocked out of the double-elimination competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the West Windsor-Plainsboro all-star squad fell behind 5-0 to Nottingham in the second inning of the opener at the Southern New Jersey Babe Ruth 13-year-old state tournament last Friday evening, it could have thrown in the towel.

Instead, WW-P battled back, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth to narrow the gap to 5-3 in the game played at Bacon Field in Hopewell.

After Nottingham responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, WW-P got runners on first and third in the top of the seventh but the rally fizzled as it ended up falling 7-3.

“It was nice that the kids hung in there,” said WW-P manager Jason Petrone, whose roster included Princeton residents Eddie Kuczysnski, Michael Prete, Ben Walden, Alex Winters, and Travis Petrone.

“We haven’t had a lot of time to practice here but some of the kids play a lot of baseball with some travel teams.”

Petrone’s son, Travis, who came on to pitch in the third inning in relief of starter Bennett Siegel, helped keep WW-P in the game with a solid mound effort.

“Travis was throwing some strikes, dropping it off and mixing it up a little bit,” said Petrone.

“He is efficient and he almost made it through four innings. It was time to take him out, the meat of their order was coming up the second time around.”

Utilizing some aggressive baselining to take advantage of some walks by the Nottingham reliever, WW-P pushed across three runs in the top of the fifth.

“We finally got a hit that inning,” said Petrone. “They changed pitchers and walked a couple of guys; the kids got a little excited.”

While WW-P never scored again, it got some exciting play from center fielder Winters and shortstop Will Carter.

“Alex showed good hustle out there, he has grown a few inches and is growing into his legs a little bit,” added Petrone.

“He is a good ballplayer. Will Carter made some good plays. He got our first hit of the game and he came in and shut them down when we needed him to after Travis was kind of worn out.”

Even though the loss left WW-P with its back to the wall in the double-elimination competition, Petrone was unfazed.

“We will look forward to coming back out tomorrow; hopefully we will come out with a little more energy,” said Petrone.

A day later, WW-P showed energy as it faced Ewing/Hopewell in an elimination game, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first with Walden contributing an RBI single. Ewing/Hopewell answered with three runs in the bottom of the first but then WW-P regained the lead on a two-run double Prete in the fourth. Winters and Prete each had singles later in the game but WW-P didn’t plate any more runs as Ewing/Hopewell pulled away to an 8-5 win.

While Petrone would have liked to have seen his team post some wins in the tourney, he knows that just getting the chance to compete was a plus for his players.

“The kids love to play baseball and it is just nice to be able to do this in this summer with the craziness of it all,” said Petrone. “They get together and can enjoy this weekend.”