Connor Luckie of Dirty Boyz Liedtka Trucking went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored in the Last Dance Tournament against the NJ Tigers (Trenton Catholic Academy). Photo by Michael A. Sabo
(This story was revised on July 17)
By Rich Fisher
July 16: The minor league experience continues for the Dirty Boyz.
The Boyz (Hamilton West) took a dominating, 7-1 victory over the NJ Tigers (Trenton Catholic) in the Trenton/Bordentown final of the “Last Dance” World Series at Arm & Hammer Park tonight.
After going 2-0 in the home of the Double A Yankees, 10th-seeded Liedtka thought it would be visiting the Phillies Class A stadium in Lakewood Tuesday.
“I’m a Phillies fan, that’s gonna be great,” catcher Connor Luckie said on Thursday.
But because the game is against the 7th-seeded Lawrence Road Irish (Notre Dame), on Friday the game was wisely moved from Lakewood to nearby Arm & Hammer to accommodate both local teams and their fans.
While Luckie would have liked to have played where Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard once starred, he still appreciates being in the former home of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge.
“I like to take it all in when I’m out here,” he said. “I don’t like to think about the game right away, I like to appreciate what I’m playing on and then get focused on playing.”
The Dirty Boyz had razor sharp focus while winning three games in three days and the reasons are simple – good pitching backed by good defense to go along with contributions up and down the lineup.
“It comes down to pitching and defense,” coach Mo “Ditka” Moceri said. “We’ve done that in the first three games with some timely hitting here and there.”
Timely and balanced hitting.
Of the 15 runs Liedtka scored in the regionals, nine different players had at least one RBI and eight different players scored at least one run. In each of the last two victories, eight players in the starting lineup reached base at least once.
“It’s on to the next person every time,” said Luckie, who snapped out of a slump by going 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored from the leadoff spot. “You do your job and the next person will do their job and as you can see, it works.”
“Every day we just talk about who’s gonna be that guy today,” Moceri said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. If your spot gets called just get the job done. That’s our motto, that’s what we live by and it seems to help us out.”
It doesn’t hurt getting lockdown pitching, and the Boyz hurlers have allowed just 15 hits, 5 walks and 7 runs while combining for 29 strikeouts.
That’s nothing short of amazing for a group that hadn’t thrown in anger since last summer.
Photo Gallery – Dirty Boyz vs NJ Tigers
“As soon as we heard about this tournament, everyone put in the work to get where they are now and you could see they’re kind of in mid-season form,” Luckie said. “We’re happy with where we’re at.”
The catcher is not surprised at how sharp they have been.
“We all stayed in contact,” he said. “Everyone stayed prepared, throwing on the side, getting their work in. I fully expected it as soon as we got back.”
It was Nate Rodriguez’s turn against a strong Tigers team that upset The Program (Hun) on Wednesday. The left-hander was in complete control, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out seven in four innings.
Rodriguez said he could have gone longer, but Moceri said he was reaching his pitch count of 75 and went with Mike Nielsen and Jack Angelini to close it out.
“I felt fantastic,” Rodriguez said. “I was waiting for the moment when I had my chance. I just had to fire third strikes, do my job and just keep runners out of scoring position. Coach wanted to take me out, I have to accept it and be ready the next time I pitch.”
“Nate went out there, pounded the strike zone like I told him to do, and then our defense did the work from there,” Moceri said. “I had confidence in Nielsen and Angelini to shut it down.”
The fact that Angelini and Tyler Solymosi pitched so well in the opener against Bordentown set everything up for Liedtka, as that allowed Moceri to start his two best pitchers – Nick Diaz and Rodriguez – in the Arm & Hammer games.
“Our plan from the start was to win games, not just win one game,” Moceri said of why he didn’t throw Diaz in the opener. “We had a lot of confidence in both our guys we threw out there the first day to get the job done, and here we are.”
“We’re all great pitchers, I have confidence in all of us,” Rodriguez said. “Our pitching staff is one of the best.”
Offensively, the Dirty Boyz left 10 men on base over the first four innings and left the bases loaded in each of the first three. But they still managed a 4-0 lead during that time. They finally broke it open in the fifth on a two-run double by Kiefer Goss.
“We were looking for the last hit to put us on top to defeat them and that one absolutely did it,” Luckie said. “That double really helped us.”
David Zamora had a hit and two RBI, Rodriguez had a hit and RBI, Noel Olavarria and Danilo Perdomo each had a hit and run scored and Zac Brown drove in a run.
Now it’s back to Arm & Hammer, which is becoming a home away from home for the Dirty Boyz.
“It’s a dream come true,” Rodriguez said. “We’re getting the bigger experience of the minor leagues. Just a cool experience as a kid. There’s no nerves, just play the game of baseball and have fun.”
And there’s no better fun than winning, no matter where it’s at.
* * *
Click this link to purchase tickets for Tuesday’s game. https://offer.fevo.com/hamilton-west-vs-notre-dame-kuuesxv-a0b65ee?fevoUri=hamilton-west-vs-notre-dame-kuuesxv-a0b65ee%2F