17u Americans Bounced Back After Dropping First Game of the Tournament

Lockport, IL- This past weekend was anything but beautiful weather for baseball. Rain poured down the entire weekend causing games to be delayed while also putting all games on a one hour and 45-minute time limit. Even so, after multiple rain delays, the 17u Americans officially were able to start their summer season on Friday afternoon in the Cangelosi Sparks Summer Invite tournament. Although it was a wet weekend, the tournament featured some of the best teams in the Midwest, including Top Tier, Wisconsin Hitters, Indiana Bulls, White Sox Ace, and the Cangelosi Sparks.

Focusing just on Top Tier, the team went into the weekend looking to build off the momentum from their intersquad games just one weekend earlier. But, it took some time to get things started. The field operators had to work all Friday morning to be able to get the fields playable after heavy down pours.  After multiple delays, Top Tier was finally able to get their first game in against the Wisconsin Hitters. Going into that game were two of the better pitchers of the tournament. For the Hitters, left-handed pitcher Connor Prielipp was on the bump, while Grant Leader led the way for Top Tier. 

 The pitching was strong on both sides. Hitters baseball pitchers struck out 12, while Top Tier struck out six. Prielipp led things off on the hill for the Hitters, only allowing three hits and one run over six innings, striking out 12. “Their pitcher was really good,” said Jalen Greer. “He had really good stuff which made it tough on our hitters.” Meanwhile, Leader allowed two hits and zero runs over five innings, striking out five and walking one. 

 Shortstop, Jalen Greer got the lone run for Top Tier after forcing a ball in play on a sac fly RBI to center field in the top of the fourth inning. This gave the Americans a 1-0 lead midway through the game. Top Tier then held that tight lead all the way until the bottom of the seventh inning. That’s when things fell apart. Top Tier pitcher Bryce Barnett came into relief throwing gas. After getting the first two batters out, it looked like Top Tier was on its way to victory. But then Barnett hit a batter who eventually scored on a RBI double. Following that, the Americans lost on a heartbreaker. Barnett then gave up a single to center field allowing the Hitters to walk-off the game, 2-1. “It’s not Bryce’s fault,” said head coach Matt Plante. “We had to get more runs anyway, one run isn’t going to get it done but we were right there.” 

 Top Tier looked to bounce back Saturday afternoon following Friday’s crushing defeat. After more rain delays the Americans got back out at Lockport High School where they were set to play a back-to-back doubleheader against the Lincoln-Way Vipers and Elite Baseball Training. In Game 1 against the Vipers, the Americans claimed victory in a picture perfect ending; a walk-off single that propelled Top Tier to a decisive, dramatic victory, 4-3. 

 The game was tied at three going into the bottom of the sixth inning with the time limit quickly approaching. That’s when Bryce Barnett got a redemption RBI single to give the Americans their first tournament victory of the summer. “It feels a lot different to be on the other end,” said Barnett. “But it’s a lot better feeling, especially coming back from behind.” Other notable performances came from starting pitcher Eric Lundell who surrendered one run on four hits over four innings, as well as outfielder Danny Doligale, who went 3-3 at the plate including a triple and two RBI’s. Coach Plante was pleased with how his team responded. “I’m proud of our group,” said coach Plante. “Two games in a row we’ve had to go down to a one run ball game, it really brings out the character of our guys, and it helps them rally together. Hopefully this can help us build toward the rest of the summer.”

After the team found out the Hitters were 2-0, they knew they could not advance any further in the tournament. Yet, that did not stop them from going out there and competing at a high level. Following an emotional Game 1, the American’s looked to keep the momentum up against Elite Baseball Training in Game 2.

 Right-handed pitcher Nathan Rintz got the nod from coach Plante to start Game 2. He came out a little wild with his command which allowed Thomas Schroeder to hit a fast ball that he took deep to center field for a solo homerun. This gave Elite Baseball a 1-0 lead headed into the second inning. Rintz continued his wild ways in the 2nd, walking the bases loaded before walking in a run to give Elite a 2-0 lead after two.

After that the Americans would pull away for good with three runs in the fourth inning. Zac Tuinei went yard for the second weekend in a row with a two-run homerun that was laced to dead center field. “I knew he was going to throw me a fastball with a 1-1 count,” said Tuinei. “It was exactly how I like it and I’m just happy I was able to make a play at bat down one run.”

 Top Tier then continued things in the fifth inning, scoring three more runs to put the score at 6-2. The offensive onslaught was led by Jack Mahoney, Danny Doligale, and Michael Chialdikas. All whom which drove in runs. With the time limit vastly approaching, Logan Mueller came into relief in the top of the sixth inning to close things out for the Americans. He struck out two while giving up zero runs to give Top Tier a 6-2 victory.

 Unfortunately, this was the end of the weekend for Top Tier Baseball. Their heartbreaking loss to the Hitters cost them a chance to play in the winner’s bracket. So, due to the heavy rain Sunday morning, all consolation games were canceled leaving the Americans to finish the weekend 2-1.

Overall, outfielder Danny Doligale had himself a great weekend. He went 4-8 (.500) with 3 RBI’s including a triple and a double. “It felt good to come out swinging this weekend.” said Doligale. “I was barreling a lot of balls up and seeing the ball well.” 

The 17u Americans will be back in action next weekend as the travel to Westfield, Indiana to play in the MPL tournament along with the 15u Americans, 15u North, 16u Americans, 16u Roos Americans, and 17u Roos Americans. 

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