John Stoliker of Allstars Academy struck out 10 batters in five sterling innings of work.
By Will Harrigan
Four years ago, Allstars Academy Elite played – and won – its first ever tournament as an organization, at a 13U event at Diamond Nation.
And now, with 11 Division 1 commits on a loaded ballclub, that pioneering group from greater Albany is going out with a bang as they play one last tournament together at, yes, Diamond Nation in Flemington, N.J.
Riding a deep lineup and the stellar pitching of Dominican-bound righty John Stoliker, the Allstars rolled to a 12-2 victory over Out of the Park Cyclones Prospects in the 17U World Series on Tuesday. The Allstars are now 2-0 in the tournament, while the Cyclones fell to 1-1 in the event.
“These guys are all best friends and they are playing together for the last time,” said Allstars coach Matthew Frey. “This was the first group that started our program, and we’re trying to extend this as far as we can in this tournament.”
Like good teams do, the Allstars took advantage of a few fielding mistakes to jump out ahead in the first inning. A passed ball and an ill-timed two-out fielding error allowed NJIT-bound Austin Francis and Manhattan-bound Nicholas Plue to score, making it 2-0.
Joseph Karpierz, recently graduated from Shaker High in Upstate NY and now heading for Xavier, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the second. Francis would then belt an RBI grounds-rule double into the left-center field gap to run the advantage up to 4-0.
Allstars first baseman David Bernard, who will play in New Jersey at St. Peter’s College next spring, grounded in a run in the third to add a fifth run. That play scored Marshall-bound Jake Sparks, who had tripled previously and would add a double later in the game.
That was more than enough run support for Stoliker, who tossed a three-hitter in five innings of work. Stoliker opened up the game in the first by striking out the side in order.
“Control is the name of (John’s) game. When he’s able to paint corners and get his off-speed stuff working, he’s tough to hit,” said Frey. “Anytime you strike out seven in the first three innings, that tells you something.”
The duo of Sparks and Francis continued to wreak havoc on the Cyclones in the later innings. In the fourth, Sparks’ two run-double keyed a five-run inning that helped blow the game open for the winners. Jack Gialanella also had an RBI single in that frame.
Francis would put an emphatic cherry on top for the winners, as he launched a two-run bomb well over the left field fence to close the scoring for the Allstars.
Trailing 12-0 in their last at bat, Austin Sheats would lace an RBI single up the middle to get the Cyclones on the board. That hit scored Jake Riggi, who got aboard on a leadoff walk.
St. Joseph’s of Metuchen product Jayden Hunter would also drive in a run later in the inning on a grounder to short. Stoliker would recover to end the game in fitting fashion, recording his 10th strikeout to seal the victory.