With the type of numbers the Erial Little League Majors All-Stars are putting up, it's only fitting the team of 11- and 12-year-olds gets a nickname for what could be a long journey through the summer.
Erial manager Jeff Mastrogiovanni has dubbed his team as "the crazy train," and is inviting all locals to hop on.
“I’ve had these kids since they were 7 years old and this year they have really bloomed,” said Mastrogiovanni after his team remained perfect in the District 14 tournament with an 11-1 win over crosstown rival Glendora in five innings. “The funny thing is when they were all 7, 8 and 9, they were all crazy. Now they have reeled it in and they are driving the crazy train. We are just running people over.”
Erial (3-0), which advanced to the winners' bracket final on Saturday with Monday's win, hit four home runs against Glendora, giving it 11 for the tournament. Two of the dingers came off the bat of Trey Crumpler, who hit a solo home run in the first inning to open the scoring and another solo shot in the fifth to bring the game to a mercy-rule result.
“It was exciting,” Crumpler said. “I had the team on my back. There was two outs, so it was all down to me. It was a good game and it was real fun. That was my first walk-off.”
Crumpler was hardly alone in the offensive attack. Anthony DiMartino hit a grand slam as part of a seven-run first inning and Ryan Colbert hit a three-run blast in the fourth.
DiMartino’s homer came after he fell behind with an 0-2 count and fouled off a couple of pitches to stay in the at-bat.
“They hit three 0-2 pitches out of the park. That was the difference,” said Glendora manager Mark Lesch. “They were waiting on our off-speed and they nailed it every single time. They hit the ball in places we weren’t and we hit it at them. That’s the way baseball is.”
“As coach says, there’s no outs with our lineup,“ Crumpler said. “Everyone is a starter and everyone hits good.”
Glendora got its lone run in the third inning when Luke Lesch singled and later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Joe Tripole. Other than that Erial starter Jaden Diaz-Lambert had little trouble in picking up his first win of the tournament.
Mastrogiovanni believes the combination of a relentless lineup and deep rotation will take the team far.
“It’s hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, hit,” Mastrogiovanni said of his lineup. “I don’t think there is a team in the state that can compete with us with our bats. On top of that we have three or four of the best pitchers in the section, too, so I think it’s going to be a fun ride on the crazy train.”
Most important to the coach is the fact that his players are enjoying the ride.
“They all go to school together and there is a real team atmosphere with these guys," Mastrogiovanni said. “They sacrifice for each other and they give everything they got. There are no selfish players on this team.”
The loss does not mean the end of the road for Glendora (2-1). It will be back in action Thursday at 6 p.m. at Mount Ephraim, looking to bounce back in an elimination bracket game.
“It’s only one loss and you have to win four more, that’s all,” Lesch told his team. “Every good team loses a game no matter what level you are at so you just have to bounce back.”