After a weekend full of surprises, there’s a surprise leader in the Tri-County Black & Blue Division.
Trico B&B newcomers the UMB Pirates shutout the Northampton Kids 12-0 on Sunday at Northampton Area High School in the Lehigh Valley Men’s Baseball League Game of the Week.
Coupled with a DM Palmisano Sanitation Rangers loss to the Lehigh Valley Cobras, the win placed the Pirates atop the standings in the early going of their inaugural season in LV MSBL’s elite division.
With the Gabelsville Owls off to a scuffling start – the perennial powerhouse is winless after dropping Sunday’s game to the Hurricanes – and every other Trico B&B team notching a loss this weekend, the Pirates are sitting pretty. For now.
Just don’t tell Pirates Manager Jorge Rodriguez.
“We know we have a lot of work to do. There are a lot divisional opponents coming up and it’s going to be tough and competitive. But we love this division, we like where we’re at now, and we look forward to hopefully making the playoffs in this division full of excellent teams,” Rodriguez said.
Wrong Side of a Shutout, Right Side of the Standings
The result wasn't what the Kids had in mind. But they're still right where the Pirates are – leading a tougher new division in their first season in it.
The reigning 25 American champion Kids moved to the 18 National Division this season for stiffer competition. Despite Sunday’s blemish – their first loss – the Kids are 3-1-2 and sitting atop their new division.
“Unfortunately, Sunday's game was a bit one-sided. In a nutshell, the Kids team came out flat, and the Pirates hit the ball in the right spots. However, that being said, I am still very proud and honored to be playing on the field with my guys,” said Kids Manager-Player Vinnie Eiden.
Eiden pointed out the camaraderie of his players, who in large part have played together since their Northampton Area High School days.
“This season we elected to move up a division, from 25s to 18s, to show that we can compete and play with the best. Although we did not have our best game on Sunday … I am proud of my team, win or lose, and we have a lot more baseball left to play. I am looking forward to a good season,” Eiden said.
3-Hit Shutout Backed by a Longball – and More
The Pirates offense exploded for 12 runs on 12 hits – not that Raul Riera needed it.
Riera, the first overall pick in the 2017 MSBL Draft, threw a three-hitter, striking out eight and walking just one. It was Riera’s second complete game shutout on the season.
Offensive highlights included Nolan Santana's second homerun of the season plus some sterling debuts. C.J. Lopez and Walter Melendez -- both fresh of the college season and making their Pirates debut -- combined to reach base six times in eight trips to the plate, driving in three runs and scoring five.
Riera helped himself by driving in four on two hits, part of the Pirates 12-hit attack.
Things went so well that even Evan Byrne – a pitcher who seldom bats – gapped a double on the only pitch he saw in his only plate appearance. “Now all we will here is how he’s batting a thousand,” Rodriguez lamented.
Out-of-Town Scoreboard also Favors Pirates
The weekend couldn’t have gone much better for the Pirates. Every other Trico B&B dropped a game this weekend.
The Owls lost 5-3 on Saturday to the 18 National Hurricanes. The Trico B&B Rays tied 18 National Bushkill Township on Sunday after dropping an 11-8 contest to the Trico B&B Nationals a day earlier.
While the Nationals notched that win, they followed it up with a 5-0 loss Sunday to the 18 National Alpha Braves. The Rangers 15-7 loss to the 18 National Cobras rounded out the string of upsets.
In all, the 18 National Division went 3-1-1 this weekend against the elite Trico B&B. It was a string of surprising outcomes that ended with the surprising Pirates in first place.