By Bob Behre
Noel Olavarria has had to get a bunt down in the past with a runner on third base, so when Pro Skills coach Kris Giangreco asked him to deliver again he just did what he does when called upon.
Olavarria pushed a perfect safety squeeze bunt down the first base line as speedy Justin Kasko raced home with the winning run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, delivering to Pro Skills 16U Select a 4-3 victory over Baseball U. Pa in the 16U Fall Harvest championship game.
“Coach said go with the safety squeeze and I just executed,” said Olavarria, who jumped on the first pitch from Baseball U. reliever Tyler Grebb, a fastball just off the outside corner. Kasko had led off and reached on an error, stole second and advanced to third on Drew Rosko’s sac bunt.
“The pitch was a little outside so I just pushed it down the first base side,” said Olavarria. Giangreco felt comfortable with one of his faster runners at third base. “With Justin on third you know he’s scoring if we get the bunt down,” said the coach.
Pro Skills (5-0) was in a 3-1 hole entering the bottom of the sixth inning against Grebb, who had been lights out in relief since entering the game with two outs in the third. But the team from Hainsesport put together a rally that would tie the game at 3-3.
Sean Ahrens, Pro Skills’ leadoff hitter, triggered the rally with a single through the middle. Tyler Leroy followed with a double down the left field line that scored Ahrens and drew Pro Skills within a run. Kris Giangreco, the coach's son, took care of that deficit immediately, hitting a bouncer over third base that went for an RBI double, tying the game at 3-3.
Giangreco went 7-for-10 in the tournament and had 11 strikeouts in pitching Pro Skills to an 8-3 victory over the Locked In Expos in the semifinals.
The heroes were plentiful for Pro Skills. Kenny Seidle, the team’s No. 2 hitter, went 8-for-13 in the tournament, including 2-for-3 with an RBI triple in the final, and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Drew Rosko picked up the win in relief for Pro Skills courtesy of a 1-2-3 top of the seventh after his team had just tied the game. But the starting effort by Ahrens was what kept Pro Skills breathing. Ahrens permitted three runs, two of which were earned, on four hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked four.
Ahrens, on fumes in the top of the sixth, got the last two outs with the bases loaded to keep Pro Skills in the game. Despite walking two batters in the inning, Ahrens reasserted himself to strand three runners.
Jake Miller (2-for-3) singled home a run in the top of the fourth to tie the game at 1-1 for Baseball U. Miller then scored the go-ahead run when Rocco Valvano’s two-out fly ball to center field was dropped. Baseball U. extended the lead to 3-1 in the fifth after Ryan Collins led off with a double, moved to third on a fielder’s choice grounder and scored on a wild pitch.
Seidle’s two-out triple in the bottom of the third scored Chad Rexon with the first run of the game.
Pro Skills outscored its tournament opponents 27-9. Baseball U. (4-1) held a 33-17 runs advantage on its opponents.