Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
San Carlos National second baseman T.J. O’Brien slaps a tag on San Carlos American base runner Davis Minton to complete a double-play in the second inning of National’s 5-2 win.
When San Mateo National issued its uniforms at the outset of the District 52 All-Star 9-10s tournament, Dom Bruciati requested to wear No. 3.
The reason was simple. Bruciati, who is a big fan of Babe Ruth, is the spitting image of the Bambino on the baseball diamond.
How does a 10-year-old become a fan of player who broke into the big leagues over 100 years ago? Simple.
“He hits dingers,” Bruciati said.
In Wednesday night’s battle of San Carlos — an elimination showdown between the city’s National and American squads — Bruciati showed he too can hit dingers as the lefty starred on both sides of the ball in National’s 5-2 victory to knock American out of the tournament.
The left-handed Bruciati not only faced the minimum through three innings on the mound to earn the win, he channeled the Bambino in the second inning to crush a three-run home run that ultimately proved the game-winner.
The big swing of the bat came on a middle-in fastball that Bruciati absolutely crushed. Bruciati, however, seemed to be the only person at Highlands Park that didn’t realize it was gone as soon as it left the bat. That’s probably for the best, at least for the old-school baseball fans in attendance, as Bruciati said he would have made more of a spectacle a la Jose Bautista had he known immediately he got ahold of it.
“I would have bat-flipped it if I knew it was going to be a home run,” Bruciati said.
It was a night for old-school baseball fans though, as those in attendance got treated to a heck of a baseball game. The tone was set even before first pitch as the District 52 staff had to get creative with the official pregame player introductions.
Due to numerous complaints from residents in the Highlands Park neighborhood, District 52 couldn’t use the public-address system as it did through earlier rounds of the tournament. But one of the San Carlos district reps, Steve Robinson, saved the day by providing a spirited round of introductions for both teams.
Both teams followed suit, squaring off in a spirited battle of rivals, including several groups of friends playing against one another.
In fact, it was Bruciati’s best friend Willem Berry — The San Carlos American starting pitcher who had the old-school Tim Lincecum hair flowing — who served up the home run.
But National did a lot more than hit. Sure, Bruciati faced the minimum through three innings of work. But it was his defense that helped eliminate three base runners that reached against him.
In the first inning, after Bruciati issued a one-out walk to Aiden Deffner, National first baseman Cole Roark turned in an impressive double play. With Johnny Larios hitting a two-hopper right at Roark, the first baseman handled the play deftly by stepping on the bag, then spinning and firing a perfect throw to second to notch the twin killing.
In the second inning, National escaped a one-out jam after Bruciati surrendered back-to-back infield singles. When catcher Joe Prieto threw behind the runner at first, National got another savvy play by Roark who gunned to third base as the front runner attempted to steal. Then third baseman Scotty Fitzpatrick was keen to see the back runner take off for second, and his throw to second baseman T.J. O’Brien was right on the money for the second double play in as many innings.
“I thought [our defense] played great,” Roark said. “They were staying down on the ball and the only runs that scored were on a home run, so they weren’t on our defense.”
After hitting into a double play in his first at-bat, Larios made good his next time up, drilling a two-run home run to center in the fourth to cut National’s lead to 4-2.
“It felt pretty good,” Larios said. “At first I didn’t know if it was going to go over. I thought he was going to rob it. So, when it landed I was psyched.”
National got one of the runs back in the fifth, but the rally could have been much worse. Rob Oda led off the inning with a single to center before back-to-back walks to O’Brien and Jayden Weber loaded the bases. But American cut down two runners at the plate, with just one run scoring on a groundout, keeping the game close at 5-2.
Weber came on to pitch the sixth and final inning for National though, and retired the side in order to close it out.
National manager Toby O’Brien praised his team’s defensive performance.
“That’s just amazing,” O’Brien said. “That’s the first game in this run that we’ve had no errors. I think they’ve started to get a feel for each other and are starting to gel. That helps do away with the little mistakes, which is nice.”
For American, its tournament ends with a 1-2 record, enjoying a first-round win 7-3 over Palo Alto American
“We played tight the whole time,” American manager Mike Busser said. “They gave it their best. They just came up a little short.”- See more at: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/sports/2016-07-07/bambinos-dinger-leads-district-52-9-10s-victory-in-battle-of-san-carlos/1776425164675.html#sthash.ccDsZQep.dpuf