By Bob Behre
Lefty-hitting Logan Raghunath slapped a single through the left side of the infield to chase Andrew Parisi home with the winning run as the Diamond Jacks Super 12U captured the Perfect Game 12U World Series in Lake Point, Georgia.
Raghunath was just the latest of so many heroes in a Diamond Jack lineup that stepped up repeatedly throughout the national tournament, Perfect Game’s first World Series at the 12U level.
The Diamond Jacks were 5-0 in the tournament but had to survived a wild, seesaw championship game against Kangaroo Court Roos American. The Roos are also a highly respected organization nationally.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Dylan Wayne had a monster championship game, including a two-run single that trimmed a 4-1 deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the third inning and a three-run home run to right-center field that erased a 6-3 Roos lead in the fifth.
“Dylan was unbelievable,” said Diamond Jacks coach Mike Buckelew.
The winning rally began in the bottom of the sixth when the cleanup hitter, Parisi, led off and reached on an infield error. Then Brevin Bezick was intentionally walked with one out, setting up Raghunath’s big at bat. Raghunath would prove stubborn in an eight-pitch grinder. The outfielder from Hillsborough worked the count to 3-0 and would foul off a 3-2 curveball. He then slashed a fastball the other way to deliver Parisi with the winning run.
“It was a great win for our kids and a great win for our program,” said Buckelew. “It’s always good to see a team from New Jersey and the Northeast perform so well on the national stage and in an invite-only tournament.
It was righty reliever Jayden Rosado who finally shut down the Kangaroo Court bats, shutting out the Florida team on no hits over the final inning and two-thirds. He struck out two and walked none. The only real threat to Rosado’s performance was a scary one. The Kangaroo Court’s No. 3 hitter hit a very deep fly ball to Bezick in center field for the third out of the top of the sixth.
Sal Garcia hit a leadoff home run for the Diamond Jacks in the bottom of the first before the Roos responded with their four-run top of the third. Dean Mantuano drew a one-out walk and Garcia singled with two outs before Wayne’s three-run, game-tying bomb in the sixth.
The Diamond Jacks began their 2017 fall season as 11U players and finished their 2018 fall season as 12U players having put on a remarkable 12-month show. The team went a ridiculous 90-9-1 over the calendar year before capping that run in grand style in Georgia.
Tournament Tidbits: The Diamond Jacks cruised to a 10-5 victory over Boro Blues 12U of Tennessee in the tournament opener, keyed by a five-run top of the second inning. … The Super 12U bats and pitching couldn’t have been more perfect in Game 2 when lefthander Zach Fronio pitched a perfect game and the team used a seven-run third inning to win 10-0 in a four-inning mercy rule game. Fronio struck out four. … The Diamond Jacks used an 11-run second inning to cruise past Showcase Baseball of Tennessee, 17-0, in the third game of pool play. … Super 12U drew Knights Baseball again in the semifinals and, despite trailing 2-0 early, scored runs in every inning on the way to a 12-4 victory that sent the team to the championship game. … The Super 12U outscored its tournament opponents 56-15. … The Diamond Jacks Super 12U squad also received critical contributions from Yadriel Mateo, Jayden Capindica, Matthew Diskin, Jayson Labrador and Cody Sherrer.