Hustlers Finish 2-2 at USA Baseball National Training Complex
The 14U Frederick Hustlers arrived at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, NC with a big target on their chest. Having won the prestigious Labor Day Cup event last September, the Hustlers were not about to sneak up on anyone. Facing their best competition of the season, the Hustlers competed admirably and finished a great weekend of baseball with a respectable 2-2 record in the 16-team 14U Cup classic. The two losses – extremely close games - came at the hands of the tournament champion and another team that played in the final four.
The first game was against a very talented Game On Round Trip team out of Savannah, GA. The Hustlers turned to their ace, Matt Cunningham. Cunningham was not sharp on this day and surrendered six runs on eight hits with four walks and a strikeout in four innings of work. The tournament champs scored four runs in the top of the first. The Hustlers got one back in the bottom of the inning on a walk to Colby Patterson and a one out line drive single by Matt Kulikowski. Cunningham then worked a clean, 1-2-3 second before the Hustlers exploded for six runs in the bottom half to take a 7-4 lead. The big blows were RBI singles by Patterson and Brandon Bradshaw. The Round Trip squad got two back in the third and the Hustlers carried a 7-6 lead into the fifth when the wheels came off the cart. Round Trip scored four in the fifth and two more in the sixth on four walks, three hits and two errors. The Hustlers went quietly and dropped game one by a score of 12-7.
The second game of the tournament was against an equally impressive East Coast Clippers ball club that was comprised of players throughout North Carolina. The Hustlers seemingly had this game but ended up letting it get away in extra innings. Down a run entering the seventh, Kyle Sanger drew a leadoff walk. After a strikeout to Patterson, Bradshaw air-mailed the left fielder for an RBI double to tie the game at 5-5. Bradshaw then made the mistake of trying to turn the double into a triple and was thrown out at third base with the heart of the lineup on deck. With two outs and bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, the Clippers were the recipient of a controversial balk call that ended the game. “Great baseball game. Not sure why any umpire would want to do that but we can only blame ourselves – we had plenty of opportunities and didn’t convert,” commented Coach Main. Tyler Prather pitched five innings and gave up four earned runs with five hits, four walks and two strikeouts. “Tyler didn’t have his best stuff but this was a really good team and he competed his butt off.”
The Hustlers quickly got rid of the bad taste by throttling the Carolina Rebels 12-1 in a night game under the lights. Adam Dellamura was really good and efficient in tossing five innings of one-hit ball with seven strikeouts on 71 pitches. Ryan Bennett closed the game out and only allowed a hit. “I was really proud of the guys in this one. We probably faced the best arm of the tournament and we battled and got him out of the game in the second and ended up taking control,” noted Main. The Hustlers won their Sunday “get away” matchup with the Raleigh-Durham based TPA Nationals by a score of 4-3. Matt Kulikowski pitched four innings of four-hit baseball with seven strikeouts. He surrendered three runs (one earned). Dustin Isanogle pitched the final three scoreless frames and only allowed two hits and had three strikeouts.
With the exception of a couple of players the Hustler bats were mostly quiet over the weekend, and some of that had to do with the quality of arms faced. Kulikowski was 5-12 (.417) with four RBIs. Bradshaw finished 5-13 (.385) with five RBIs, and Isanogle went 3-8 (.375) with three runs scored.