For a split second, A.J. Cain thought he had hit a walk-off grand slam. He didn’t get it, but the result of the at-bat was still worth celebrating.
The righthanded hitter from Seaford lined a 3-2 fastball down the rightfield line with the bases loaded, but he hit the ball so late in the zone that the ball’s tail carried it foul.
Cain, shaking his head and smiling, reset himself in the batter’s box and fouled off the next offering, a high fastball. The following pitch was down in the zone and called ball four, allowing Rob Pomerantz to jog home from third base and give the Frozen Ropes a walk-off 1-0 victory over the Atlantic Coast Rays in the 18U Independence Day championship at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank Monday.
The Frozen Ropes have a facility in Garden City and the team is made of rising seniors in Nassau County.
“I feel like I’ve got one of the best teams on Long Island,” coach Eric Weiner said. “We grind. We had a phenomenal weekend. We played great baseball.”
Cain ended a pitcher’s duel between the Ropes’ Luis Dono and Troy Davern of the Rays. Davern was pulled with one out in the seventh with runners on first and second.
Matt Paghidas came on to work out of the jam and he looked to be on the right track after striking out Rob Iacono looking. But he walked leadoff hitter Matt Collins to load the bases and put Cain in position for his first ever walk-off.
“I was looking fastball and adjusting to curve,” Cain said. “He had a pretty good curveball, but he didn’t throw it for a strike against me. So I just laid off the early curves in the count and let him throw me a fastball.”
After going 4-0-1 in the tournament’s first five games, the Ropes were running low on pitching. The four-day, wood-bat tournament put an emphasis on pitching depth. Luckily, the Ropes had Dono.
Generally a closer and catcher for the Ropes and his Valley Stream South High School team, Dono tossed a 90-pitch shutout with three strikeouts. He allowed five singles and was aided by double plays in the first and fourth innings.
“They hit me hard, but I battled through it,” Dono said. “They made the plays behind me.”
Of the team’s five wins in the tournament, four were shutouts.
MOTUS Prospect Academy gets tricky in win
Tied at 4 in the fourth inning against the upstate Tri-City Bombers, MOTUS Prospect Academy had runners on the corners in a 16U contest.
Pat Schriffen broke from first on the pitch and stopped halfway to second base, but the catcher still threw down. After the catcher released, Kyle Rafferty broke from third and scored, giving Prospect a 5-4 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. After a six-run sixth, they won, 11-4.
Dillon Cassidy went 2-for-3 with two steals, two runs and a walk. Jerry Diaz had two singles and scored twice. Max Nielsen went 1-for-1 with a triple, walk, hit by pitch and three runs scored.
Matt Laurelli pitched four innings of relief for the win.