12U Silverbacks forming at the right time?

The 12U BAT Silverbacks are a group of 10 to 12 year olds from many Westchester and Putnam towns. They have now only played a handful of games together and are starting to gel as a group.

After a full winter of training, the team was rained out Week 1 and took the field for the first time against the Somers Nationals at Reis Park. Jade Gutierrez took the mound for the Silverbacks and after several miscues and a few walks the team was down 4-0 after 2 innings. Showing off some potential, the Silverbacks battled back led by 2 hits from 10 year old first-baseman Matthew Konopka, hits from Chris Frisco, Somers Native Connor Durso, and doubles by Kevin Heffernan and George Handal. Aidan Holmes and Joseph Lanza each added a hit. The team came back to trail 6-5 heading into the 5th, gave up a run to bring the game into the final frame down 7-5. The Silverbacks continued to claw, driving in a run and loading the bases. With the tying run on 3rd, the Nationals received a huge strikeout call to end the game. Game 2 did not start well for BAT, Silverback pitchers gave 12 walks to the Nationals leading to a quick 8-1 lead. Connor Durso came in to pitch and shut down the Nationals while the team attempted to make another come back posting 2 runs to bring the game to 8-2. Somers would respond, posting 5 more runs in the 4th and expanding the lead to 13-2. The Silverbacks pounded out 10 hits led by Aidan with 3, Kevin Heffernan and Mike Youngman each with 2, Matt Konopka, George Handal and Joe Lanza all posted 1 hit, but the team fell short 14-7 to drop to 0-2 on their first season.

“Of course we’re disappointed in the outcome, but this team showed great potential, also facing what could be the top seed in the division, we’re very optimistic about this teams future. We need to focus on player development and team building, we have a good group of players and we can be a winning team”, Coach John Robinson commented after the matchup.

The next week BAT rolled into Redding CT and jumped out to a 4-0 lead by Mike Youngman’s moon shot over centerfield for his first homerun of the season. Kevin Heffernan continue to be hot adding 3 more hits and red hot Matt Konopka added 2 more hits. But Redding came out swinging, it was not a good day for BAT pitchers giving up 8 more walks and 14 hits, dropping the game 9-5 and falling to 0-3 on the year. Game 2 would be a different story. Jade and Connor controlled the Redding offense just enough to allow the Silverbacks to rip off 8 runs on 11 hits. Jade went 4 innings allowing 4 runs, picked up the win. Connor closed the game allowing 0 runs and 1 hit for his first save. BAT hitters once again we’re alive knocking 11 hits. Robert Roselli joined in the fun with 2 hits, Kevin Heffernan once again posted multiple hits with 2, Aidan Holmes with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs, and Nate Wolfe ripped the hardest hit balls of the games with 2 frozen ropes to right center driving in 3 runs. George Handal and Matt Konopka both added a hit and RBI on the night. Silverbacks picked up their first win and improved to 1-3.

Next up was a real test for this young team. Playing an established A team in Lewisboro, the Silverbacks came out strong. Surprising Lewisboro, BAT made some good defensive plays and had a key hit by Robert Roselli driving in 2 runs to deadlock the game 6-6 after 4 and a half innings. Jade and Matt also had hits, then the flood gates opened in the bottom of the 4th. Silverback defenders made 3 errors that lead to an 11 run inning and walk-off homerun. It was a flurry of punches that ended with a knockout dropping the team to 1-4.

Robert Roselli took the mound against his home town Mahopac Indians and settled down after a slow start. Mahopac managed 3 runs in the first but then Robert went to work with a mix of sinkers and changeups allowing the Silverbacks to even the score 3-3 before moving ahead in the 4th with a 6 run inning. Jade 2 hits 2 RBI, Kevin 2 hits 1 RBI, and Lanza 2 hits and 1 RBI, Mike Youngman added a hit and an RBI, Nate Wolfe with another rope single and an RBI, Robert roped a double driving in 2, Matt Konopka added a deep bomb single driving in a run, John Robinson and Chris Frisco walked twice. Robert recorded his first Win and Mike Youngman came in for a 2 inning save. With the 12-7 win, BAT improved to 2-4 on the year.

The next game is one to forget, Yonkers on a rainy, windy day, on a field that bases we’re not set to 70 feet, the team just did not show up. After what was a good pregame workout, Yonkers jumped all over the Silverbacks on only 8 hits but ended up with the KO 12-2 after 4 innings. Aidan, Nate, Kevin, and Mike each had a hit for BAT in the loss dropping them to 2-5.

With a 2-5 record but flashes of unity, the team traveled to Ardsley to face the Armonk Bobcats, top 3 seeded team. This night, the Silverbacks came out gorilla swinging. Knocking Bobcat pitcher around for 3 runs in the first and 5 runs in the second. Aidan Holmes led the attack with 2 hits and 2 RBIs accompanied by Matt Konopka with 2 hits and 3 RBIs. Jade, Robert, and Mike each added a hit as the team posted 9 runs against this quality opponent. George Handal took the mound and was incredible. Posting 8 strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work, however the Silverbacks committed 5 critical errors allowing the Bobcats a chance to come back. In the final frame, with Silverback closer Connor on the hill, key error opened the door for the winning run to cross. Painful to watch, this loss sent the Silverbacks down to 2-6 as the team continues to learn how to win.

May 17th, the team visited Hawthorn to take on A Team Wildcats, and this proved to be a thriller. Jade took the mound and baffled the Wildcats over 3 innings, however a few defensive miscues and BAT was down 3-1 after 3 innings. Nate Wolfe come in to pitch and shut the team down for 2 innings with some good outfield play. Westlake Wildcats had only 4 runs on 4 hits but took a 4-1 lead into the final set. Silverbacks would not go away, with 2 outs, Connor Durso and John Robinson managed to get on base, and Aidan Holmes once again came through with a ripped single driving in Connor. Down 4-2 with one of the leagues top hitters Kevin Heffernan at the plate, the Silverbacks had hope. Kevin hit a good ball down 3rd baseline, Wildcats third baseman backhanded the play and stepped on third to end the game sending BAT to 2-7. Head Coach Joe Panarese was pleased with the teams overall performance and stressed the need to continue to clean up the miscues that keep leading to loses.

The team travels to Pleasantville tonight 5/19 to take on the Panthers before finishing up the regular season against Brewster Bombers and A Team New Castle Bombers on Sunday.

Season notables: Aidan Holmes leads the offense with a .579 average and 10 runs scored, Matthew Konopka is at .529 and Kevin Heffernan is at .478 on the year with 4 doubles and 10 RBIs. Nate Wolfe is batting .364 with 5 RBIs, followed by Robert Roselli at .333 and Mike Youngman at .318 with a homerun and 6 RBIs. Joe Lanza is starting to hit with his average round .300.

George Handal and Chris Frisco are showing signs of breaking out, Chris launched a double last game. Brining up the rear on average, but with .300 on base percentages is both Connor Durso and John Robinson combining for 7 walks and 5 runs scored.

As far as fielding goes, BAT Coaches are still moving kids around to experiment with combinations and positions. At some point soon there will be more consistency in where kids play but management is starting to get a good feel for the skill sets and game performance.

This team could be peaking at the right time, playoffs start next week! Let’s go Silverbacks!!!