Blue Devils ‘Fight Like Frankie’
HHS baseball, softball teams take on Ocean City in showcase
HAMMONTON—Chilly temperatures and a steady rain did little to dampen the spirits of hundreds of local baseball and softball fans who turned out at Hammonton Lake Park on May 27 to celebrate the first annual “Fight Like Frankie” Showcase.
The event, which featured baseball and softball games between Hammonton and Ocean City high Schools, benefitted Frankie LaSasso, a 7-year-old Hammonton native who is battling a T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Joined by his parents and grandparents, Frankie LaSasso was recognized before the games and threw out the first pitch prior to the start of the baseball game on the field named for his great-grandfather, Frank “Moose” LaSasso.
“This really shows you what a great community this is,” Frankie’s father, also Frank IV, said.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to our family to have the kind of support we received not only from my hometown here in Hammonton, but also in Ocean City, where I teach and coach. Every day I lose count of how many calls and texts I get asking about him [Frankie] and how he’s doing,” Frank LaSasso IV said.
After throwing out the first pitch, Frankie LaSasso spoke with The Gazette.
“It was fun,” he said before running off to join his friends.
LaSasso’s mother, Tiffany LaSasso, thanked everyone who turned out a last week’s event.
“It’s kind of overwhelming. We’ve been so lucky to have so much support. Just look at all these people who came out for our son. We’re so grateful,” Tiffany LaSasso said.
“You would think that we live in both communities [Hammonton and Ocean City]. Everyone has been just great. They have done so much to highlight Frankie and make him feel special,” she said.
Hammonton High School athletic director Marni Parks was glad just to have the showcase take place, as weather was a concern earlier in the week.
“I just wanted to be able to celebrate Frankie and his fight. He’s such a tough kid and the LaSassos are a wonderful family. It was very important to us at Hammonton High School to be able to do this and provide some support for the family,” Parks said.
Hammonton baseball coach Gregg Silvesti agreed.
“I’ve known the LaSasso family a long time and it’s tough to see them have to go through something like this, so to be able to give something back to them was important. They deserve it,” Silvesti said.
Blue Devils softball coach Eric Shulman offered similar comments.
“I’m a parent with a young son, too and I can’t imagine how tough it must be to go through what they’re family is going through. I coach with Frankie’s grandfather and I’ve become very close with their family, so for me, I think it’s great to see our school as well as Ocean City come out and do something special for the LaSassos,” Shulman said.
Moments before the ceremonies to recognize Frankie LaSasso, his grandfather, Frank III, reflected on the day.
“This town [Hammonton] really rallies behind each other. No matter how many times you might argue or fight with someone, when push comes to shove and things are bad, they’re always there to help out,” the elder LaSasso III said.
An assistant coach for Hammonton’s softball team, LaSasso III was emotional when talking about the support.
“I had to leave the dugout [at the softball field] because I was tearing up just looking at the jerseys they made. It’s been a very emotional. People here and down in Ocean City have done so much,” LaSasso III said.
On the field, Hammonton’s teams enjoyed mixed success against their counterparts from Ocean City.
The Blue Devils’ softball team suffered its first loss of the season, as Ocean City fought back from an early deficit to post an 8-3 win.
The big blow came in the top of the fifth inning when Haley Neville connected for a three-run homer that broke the game open.
Riley Lancaster and Sophia Vento each had two hits in the loss for Hammonton.
Hammonton’s baseball team had better luck, using a five-run third-inning rally to post a 7-2 win.
Lucas DeStefano’s two-run home run staked Hammonton to an early lead, and in the third, the Blue Devils batted around, taking advantage of four walks and a pair of Ocean City errors to score five more runs and take control of the matchup.
D.J. Adamucci had a two-run single in the rally, while Jared Beebe and Anthony Leo also drove in runs.
The offense backed a solid effort on the mound from Lukas Guerrier, who worked into the sixth inning before giving way to Beebe, who closed out the victory.
“It’s a good win for us. With the playoffs coming [this] week, it’s nice to beat a good team and have some momentum in our favor,” Silvesti said.
While the action on the field was fierce, it only added to the focus of the day, Frankie LaSasso’s battle against leukemia.
“I just want to thank everyone for coming out on a rainy day. It means a lot to our family and we’re truly thankful,” Frank LaSasso IV said.