The curious came to Somerset High School’s baseball field Monday afternoon to see the first baseman of the Baltimore Youse’s Maryland Orioles with the famous father, and it wasn’t long before Ryan Ripken made an impression.
Ripken, the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., lined the second pitch he saw from Chicago Metro starting pitcher Chris Bobo over the right-field fence for a two-run home run which staked Baltimore to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning during opening day of the AAABA Tournament on Monday.
Ripken, a defensive standout who will play for perennial college power South Carolina, finished with three RBI, scored two runs and reached base three times as defending champion Youse’s Maryland Orioles opened with an 11-6 win over the Elgin Aces.
“I think the short porch out there helped, to be honest,” Ripken said. “I went up just wanting to take a good approach and try to hit the ball hard.”
Dominic Fratantuono hit the ball hard too, and his solo home run with one out in the first inning was one of two hit by Baltimore, which plays Livonia today.
Things could not have started any better for the franchise which has won eight of the past nine tournament titles.
“It was good getting out of the gate like that,” Baltimore manager Tim Norris said. “We opened that lead, but then we went to sleep a little bit.”
Baltimore led 5-0 and starting pitcher Bobby Ruse had yet to allow a base hit through three innings, and it looked like Youse’s Maryland Orioles might win one going away. Chicago Metro, however, inched its way back into the game thanks to a disciplined plate approach.
Ruse didn’t allow a base hit until the fourth inning and worked his way out of a jam in the fifth before he exited the game in the sixth after the first four Chicago Metro batters reached base. The Aces drew four walks in the inning, including a pair with the bases loaded, to trim Baltimore’s lead to 8-6. Eric Smoy, the No. 9 hitter, finished with a double, three walks and two RBI for the Aces.
More AAABA Tournament coverage
- See the updated AAABA Tournament bracket here
- Berkley Hills loses late lead to Philadelphia
- Long Island clips Martella's Pharmacy
- Short-handed Columbus finds way past Altoona
- Livonia upends perennial power New Orleans
- Youngstown displays complete game against Chicago South Shore
- Blizzard blasts six home runs in rout
“The guys battled, but we gave Baltimore too many extra opportunities,” Chicago Metro manager Todd Zasadil said. “We made some mistakes and walked some guys and against a good team like that, you can’t afford to do it. They have a lot of good talent.”
Fratantuono and Brendan Butler – Baltimore’s No. 2 and 3 hitters – combined to score five runs and finished with four of the team’s 12 hits. Fratantuono scored a key run in the eighth on a passed ball for a 9-6 lead. Baltimore added a pair of runs in the ninth and relief pitcher Taylor Nace struck out the side for the game’s final three outs.
“We hadn’t played a game in almost two weeks except for one exhibition. It wasn’t our best game by far, but to come out and get the win was important,” said Ripken, whose father was not in attendance but could be at the tournament later in the week. “In this type of tournament, you want to get started with a win.”