By Bob Behre
Proswing TPS Future had backed the Diamond Jacks Super 11U squad into a corner, building a 5-0 lead through four innings in the 11U Fall Brawl championship game on Sunday night at Diamond Nation.
But the Diamond Jacks rallied for a run in the top of the fifth and four runs in the sixth to tie the game at 5-5. Then winning pitcher Joe Pontoriero’s delivered Oliver Aridi from third with the decisive run on a fielder’s choice grounder to the right side in the eighth.
It was Pontoriero, affectionately referred to as “Moose,” who had righted the ship in regard to the Diamond Jacks’ ragged start to the game. The righthander limited Proswing to one run on three hits, struck out four and walked none over the final five innings. His performance in the final made him an easy choice for the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
“Moose hadn’t pitched that much,” said Super 11U coach Mike Buckelew. “He really came out tonight and got it done. He kept us in the game.”
The Super 11U squad certainly had its share of heroes in the championship game.
Where would the team be without that huge rally in the top of the sixth during which each of the four runs were scored with two outs. The rally was capped in dramatic fashion when Nick Yaccarino, the Diamond Jacks’ No. 10 hitter, rocked a first-pitch fastball the other way and down the right field line for a two-run, game-tying single.
The batter before Yaccarino, Myles Jackson, drew a bases-loaded walk to force home the Diamond Jacks’ third run of the game. “Nick comes up after a walk on a 3-1 pitch and rips the first pitch for a hit,” said Buckelew. “We want our hitters to be aggressive and Nick saw something he liked. He was first-pitch swinging.”
Yaccarino’s single scored Soren Gregor and Pontoriero, who had singled home the first run of the inning. Pontoriero was 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI and a run scored. A.J. Saccento had kick-started the sixth-inning rally for the Diamond Jacks with a leadoff walk. Justin Labrador then singled to center field with one out before Gregor drew a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.
Aridi ignited the winning rally in the eighth with a leadoff single to center field and he promptly stole second and third with Gregor at the plate. Pontoriero then came up with one out and hit his bouncer to the right side that easily scored Aridi for a 6-5 lead.
Kendrick Jorge reached on an infield error with two outs in the bottom of the eighth for Proswing and stole second, but Pontoriero induced a comebacker for the final out. Pontoriero also pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and stranded a Proswing runner on second in the bottom of the sixth to keep the Diamond Jacks alive.
Proswing jumped on the Diamond Jacks early, striking for a pair of runs in the first and the second innings. Two infield errors got the rally started in the first before Evan Rosado delivered the big hit, a two-out, two-run double down the right field line.
Dean Rapaci led off the second inning with a single through the middle and Johnny Galley drew a walk before both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch allowed Rapaci to score for a 3-0 lead and Gally came home with the fourth run on a two-out single to left field by Ryan Shurgin.
Proswing then tacked on a run in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead. Kenny Tennero reached on a two-out error, stole second and scored on Lucas London’s clutch single to center field.
Proswing seemed to be mastering the two-out clutch hit thing while intermingling some superior defense, particularly by its very slick shortstop Rosado. Proswing turned a pair of double plays in the game, including one Rosado started when he snared a low lined drive to short-circuit a Diamond Jack rally in the fourth.
The Diamond Jacks Super 11U (5-0) outscored its tournament opponents 46-23 while Proswing TPS Future 11U (3-1) held a 32-20 runs advantage on its opponents.