By Bob Behre
It was difficult to choose which was more impressive, Truman Rickter’s untouchable stuff or the lethal nature of the Diamond Jacks Super 14U's deep and punishing lineup.
We’ll start with Richter, a righthander bound for Voorhees High School in September. Richter struck out all nine batters he faced in the Diamond Jacks’ 14-0 mercy rule victory over Gallagher Newtown Select in the Mother’s Day Classic championship game.
“Truman commands three pitches, locates inside and out and is consistent with all of his pitches,” said Diamond Jacks Super 14U coach Walter Cleary.
Richter was named the 14U Mother’s Day Classic Most Valuable Player.
Then we’ll turn the page and focus on the unforgiving Super 14 lineup that staked Richter to a 6-0 first inning lead and mashed 10 hits in its three at bats. The Diamond Jacks (5-0) outscored their tournament opponents 49-5.
“We had a lot of discipline at the plate and, consequently, saw a lot of deep counts,” said Cleary. “We hit top-to-bottom all tournament.”
Sure, Richter only had to pitch three innings, courtesy of the prodigious Diamond Jacks lineup but couldn’t have been much more effective than he was in spotting his fastball, curveball and three or four well-timed changeups. Five batters struck out on a Richter curveball, two of them looking.
“The mound was a little slippery when I got out there,” said Richter, referring to the soft rain falling at game time. “I got comfortable and was hitting my spots with my fastball and curveball. It’s always good when you can pitch with a lead.”
Richter does own a legit seven-inning perfect game in his young career.
Cleanup hitter Jayden Hylton had the headline performance at the plate for the Diamond Jacks. Hylton had two doubles and a sac fly and drove home six runs.
Hylton doubled home two runs in the Super 14U’s six-run bottom of the first inning. He hit a laser to center field with the bases-loaded in the second that enabled Matt Wright to tag and score. And he ended the game via the mercy rule in the third with a booming bases-loaded double into the left-center field gap that chased home all three runners.
“Jayden hit the ball hard all tournament and a lot of times right at people,” said Cleary. “So it was nice to see him rewarded with the six RBI in the championship game.”
Hylton had plenty of help, particularly against a strong Gallagher Newtown Select squad that had come into the championship game at 4-0 and having outscored its opponents 42-7.
There were so many good at bats, as Cleary intimated, but a few truly stood out.
Conor Dreyer, the Super 14U’s No. 2 hitter, singled twice and drew a walk in his three at bats, scoring twice and driving in a run. The righty-hitting Dreyer worked an eight-pitch at bat in the first inning before lining a single to right field. He singled again to right field in the second and drew a bases-loaded walk in the third.
“Conor’s a great hitter,” said Cleary. “You can count on him for great at bat."
Alex Kim also had a pair of long, patient at bats that resulted in two singles to left field. Kim scored twice and drove home a run. The Diamond Jacks drew six walks to complement their 10 hits.
Dreyer, by the way, had to jump behind the plate for the semifinal and final after catcher Andres Suarez rolled his ankle and could not continue. Dreyer was rewarded, as he was part of the battery with Richter that teamed up for the three-inning perfect game.
The NJ Axemen shut out the Diamond Jacks Super 10U squad, 8-0, in the 10U Mother’s Day Classic championship game. The Axemen (4-1) scored a dominating 51 runs to their opponents’ nine. Patrick Van Note of the Axemen was named the 10U tournament Most Valuable Player. The Diamond Jacks Super 10U (3-1) had an impressive 39-8 runs advantage on their opponents.
12U BLUE BRACKET CHAMPIONS
The South Jersey Young Guns (5-0) edged All-Out Pack, 7-6, in an all-South Jersey 12U Blue Bracket Mother’s Day Classic championship game. The Young Guns held a 61-21 runs advantage on their opponents. Bruce Parker of the Young Guns was named the 12U Blue Bracket tournament Most Valuable Player. All-Out (4-1) scored 50 runs to its opponents’ 24.
12U RED BRACKET CHAMPIONS
The Diamond Kings (4-1) rolled to a 15-5 victory over the RE Bulls in the 12U Red Bracket Mother’s Day Classic championship game. The Kings went 4-1 and scored 43 runs to their opponents’ 30. The Bulls (2-1-1) held a slim 24-23 runs advantage on their opponents. No MVP was awarded.
14U SILVER BRACKET CHAMPIONS
The Diamond Jacks Gold 14U (4-0) defeated the D1 Renegades, 9-1, to secure the 14U Silver Bracket Mother’s Day Classic championship. Keegan Holles of the Gold 14U squad was named the 14U Silver Bracket Most Valuable Player. The Diamond Jacks outscored their opponents 36-14 while the Renegades (3-2) held a slim 32-28 runs margin on their opponents.