Montville Baseball-8U comes out swinging.
Montville Township’s 8U baseball team traveled to Montclair for their first game of the season. Under overcast skies and temperatures in the low 50s at game time, the spectators huddled under coats and blankets as the team took the field in their new spring uniforms. While the game did not result in a win for Montville, clearly this team has the potential, talent, leadership and long legs that will make this season one for the record books. Under the veteran leadership of a trio of coaches, these young men have begun to learn the basics of baseball and team work.
Montville lead off with pitcher Dylan Kaufman and catcher Brody Hammer. Kaufman was a force to be reckoned with from his intimidating pre-wind up stare through to his power-delivering pitch to his catcher. In what could be a team first, Kaufman struck out the first batter he ever faced. That first strikeout raised some eyebrows on the hosting Montclair players and coaches; the challenge was on.
Next up was relief pitcher Jacob Vogt, who toughly battled during his first time on the mound. He gained a tremendous amount of experience.
Lastly, wrapping up the trio of pitchers was the closer Jacob Hammer, MBSA 2016 8U. While Hammer walked to the mound in the third inning, his teammates chanted “Hammer-Time, Hammer-Time, Hammer-Time” as he calmly took up his position and began to fire in his fastball to catcher Devin Martin. Hammer, like Kaufman, struck out the first batter he ever faced.
Notably, Niko Kalliaras – the first Montville 8U to reach base this season with a second inning walk – then stole third for the first stolen base of the year for Montville. Kalliaras made it safely to third in a very close play, as Montclair’s third baseman narrowly missed the ball.
In the third inning, Montville started to put the ball in play. Devin Martin (the catcher in the second and fourth innings) led off the inning with a hard hit ball to second base, and only a great play by Montclair stopped a base hit.
After a walk and a strikeout in the fourth inning, Kaufman also put the ball in play but was called out due to “batter interference.”
Hammer came in during the third inning, and also struck out the first batter he ever faced. The inning ended with a nice play by Montville’s first baseman Henry White, who gobbled up a hard hit ball.
In the end, Montville had six walks, Kaufman had three strikeouts in the first and third innings and Hammer had four strikeouts in two innings.
The three coaches that led the team were Adam Kaufman, Nich Agnoli and Bob Vogt.
“I was tremendously proud of the kids today,” said Kaufman. “I can only imagine how the seven and eight year old boys felt [with the] first pitches and swings wearing their town’s uniform. They were nervous, yet battled through never giving up and never getting down on themselves. They learned a lot and stayed together as a team and in the end they all left Montclair mostly with smiles, realizing even in a loss their parents still loved them and their friends were still there to support them. I actually think the game results were tougher on the parents.”
The team will play 10 league games this season, five of those at home. Next up for this team to watch will be Wayne Hill Warriors on Sunday, April 3 at 4:30 p.m. at home in Montville.
To view more photos of the baseball game by Scott Kennedy, please go to montclairdispatch.smugmug.com..