The New Era 16U travel baseball team has been facing adversity all year. Saturday was no different.
After having their lead get cut from nine to three, the New Era 16U team took back control of the game and defeated the Cayuga Heat 15-6 on Saturday at Outwater Park in Lockport. The game was a part of the New Era Cap Classic tournament (HS Division).
The game got off to a bang as New Era 16U lead-off hitter Stephen Romanik (Silver Creek) hit the first pitch for a single. After three straight walks, Romanik scored the first run of the game. The poor pitching continued for Cayuga allowing three more runs on a stolen base and hit by pitch before Max Nieno was put on the hill. New Era got through the entire order in the first inning and led 4-0.
The second inning was much like the first. Romanik led off the inning with a hit. He stole second and third base, then a walk and hit by pitch brought him home. Braden Zdrojewski (Starpoint) singled and then stole second base before being driven home by Andrew Culver (Cicero-North Syracuse). Ricky Miller (Christian Central Academy) grounded out but Ben Nagy (Amherst) was able to score to give New Era the 7-0 lead.
New Era tacked on two more runs in the third. Zdrojewski grounded out to get Jordan Mitchell (Ridley College, Ontario) home. Nagy then drove in Romanik on a single.
Romanik went 3 for 5 with a walk and stole three bases in Saturday’s win.
Head coach Garrett Jones feels he is lucky to have a player like Romanik on his team.
“Stephen’s the kid that every coach needs,” Jones said. “No matter what he’s got a smile on his face, you could be losing 15-1 or winning 15-1 and he is going to have a smile on his face. He loves the game.”
It looked as if the game was coming to quick conclusion, but the Heat were not backing down.
After not registering a hit in the first three innings, Cayuga got some offense going in the fourth. Brian Hutchinson was walked to begin the inning. Brennan Littere hit a single but after a pass ball he was able to get to second and bring Hutchinson home. Domingo Cabera brought Littere home a single.
The success carried over to the fifth for the Heat. Kris Green started the inning off with a hit. Nieino came up with a hit and brought Green home. This was followed up by a hit from Cody Haseley which allowed Luis Mercado, who was walked earlier in the inning to score. Hutchinson came up with his second hit of the day to bring in Nieino. Haseley stole home to bring Cayuga within three runs.
However New Era’s offense woke back up and stringed along seven hits for six runs to mercy the Heat in six innings.
Cayuga got off to a strong start this season, but they have been inconsistent as of late. They are currently 17-14 (as of Saturday). The highlight of the year was winning the Lou Gehrig Classic in Amherst.
“We just ran out of gas,” Cayuga head coach Chris Cardona said. “It was a long grueling weekend. We kind of caught second life there but it was a little too late.”
Romanik was proud of the way his team battled back.
“It was great team win,” Romanik said. “When Cayuga started to come back we held down and hit the gas pedal again.”
The New Era 16U travel team is a 5-22-1 this season, but their record doesn’t tell the whole story.
The team has lost three players this season, including a few this weekend. They lost one player to tendinitis another to an ACL injury, and another player quit the team this weekend. Jones took over the team just three weeks before the season and found it unorganized and lost. The team has also been mostly playing against 17U and 18U teams this season.
According to Jones, the kids who have stayed with the team through all the trials and tribulation this season have high character.
“You can tell these kids are from the Buffalo area because they are tough,” Jones said. “They have been facing adversity all season.”