Another win for well-traveled Budis and Locked In Expos 16U Blue

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 29, 2023

Nico DeLuca singled to fuel a three-run second inning for the Locked In Baseball Expos 16 Blue.

By Rich Bevensee

On Thursday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington, young lefty Sean Budis withstood extremely humid and steamy conditions while authoring yet another exceptional outing on the mound, allowing one run over five innings with 11 strikeouts for his Locked In Baseball Expos 16 Blue 2025 ballclub.

But that’s not the story.

Budis’ performance was the latest entry in what has become a whirlwind baseball summer for his entire family, with trips to three different cities, painfully long security checks, missed flights, luggage chasing, late-night laundry…

Oh, and since June 30, he’s pitched a perfect game and allowed five earned runs in 26 innings of national tournament baseball.

“I haven’t really had time to sit on it much,” said Budis on Thursday after his Expos dispatched The Sports Yard 2 of Syracuse, N.Y., 8-4, in the Super 17 World Series. “I was away in Boston, Florida, Georgia, then came home for two days, and now I’m in a tournament back here at Diamond Nation. Feels good to be back, though.”

A week before heading to Boston, Budis served notice to Expos coach Chris Bagley, his teammates and the New Jersey crowd how ready he was for the national tournament scene. He struck out 11 over seven innings and finished with a perfect game in a 5-0 victory over New Jersey Saints 17U in the second week of the Super 17 Invitational Wood Bat Tournament at ‘The Nation.’

“To me, the biggest surprise about Sean wasn’t anything that took place in Boston or Florida or Georgia. It’s that he threw a perfect game,” Bagley said, shaking his head even now. “That was a dominating performance, and the funny thing is he didn’t let up an earned run until two outings later. He has been in the strike zone – dominating – since that day.”

Exactly a week later at the Prospect Select Boston Open, Bagley tagged Budis as the first Expos pitcher to toe the rubber. Budis responded with six shutout innings in a 9-0 victory against Bay Sox 2025 American. He gave up four hits and one walk and struck out 10.

While the Expos went 4-0 in pool play and won two playoff games to reach the semifinals, it caused a massive headache for Caroline Budis, the Budis family’s traveling secretary.

Because the Expos kept winning, Caroline was forced to constantly change her family’s flight plans for the trip from Newark Airport to Florida, and finally settled for 6 a.m. flight on Thursday, a day after the Expos lost, 12-5, to eventual champion Northeast Pride ‘25 Scout of Beach Lake, Pennsylvania, in the semis. Sean and Caroline drove back home to Jersey that night.

“Frantic isn’t the word for it when you’re home and gotta’ get ready to leave right away,” Caroline said. “At Newark Airport the next morning we got stopped at security for Sean’s weighted balls so they had to inspect each ball. That took forever so we got to the gate at 5:40 a.m. and missed our flight.

“We finally took an Uber from Newark Airport to JFK where we would catch a flight to Miami. At Kennedy, we got delayed because someone on our flight had a name which was flagged, so all kinds of security came and we were waiting for that to get straightened out. We finally flew to Miami, then had to drive to Fort Lauderdale for our luggage. You can’t make this stuff up.”

With the entire Budis family – Sean’s father, Joe, and Sean’s brothers Joey, 25, Matt, 22, and Ryan 14 – joining Caroline in West Palm Beach to watch the Prospect Select Palm Beach Open, Sean treated his family to a gem. He pitched in the Expos’ second game and allowed two earned runs in a complete-game four hitter, allowing one walk and striking out 11 in a 4-2 victory over Team Evolve 16U of Fort Myers, Fla.

In Boston and Florida, Budis was caught by Expos teammate Nico DeLuca, a childhood friend who also catches Budis when they play for their Brearley High School team in Kenilworth. They grew up on the same street and have known each other since they were 2 years-old.

Santino Czarecki singled and walked twice for the Locked In Baseball Expos.

“I think it helps. It’s the chemistry,” Budis said of his connection with DeLuca. “He knows where the ball’s going out of my hand.”

The Expos did not earn a playoff berth after finishing 3-1 in pool play, so the Budis men flew home to New Jersey while Sean and Caroline were winging their way to Atlanta, Georgia. They would join Bagley and the Expos’ 17U team for the WWBA 17U National Championship at the East Cobb Complex in Marietta.

Sean and Caroline checked into their hotel at 12:45 a.m., and left their room by 6:30 a.m. the next morning for the Expos’ 8 a.m. game against Rawlings Prospects 2024 of Oxford, North Carolina.

It was the Expos’ fifth and final pool game. Budis pitched two innings and got all six outs by strikeout, while allowing three runs on five hits and two walks in a 9-9 tie.

The Expos finished 3-1-1 for the week, and Sean and Caroline could finally head home.

“It was hectic, but the good news is I didn’t lose any kids and Sean had a clean uniform every time,” Caroline said. “It’s taken me a good week to get back to normal.”

“I have never experienced anything like the last month,” Sean said. “Definitely never traveled so much. Maybe a family vacation every now and then, like a family vacation to Florida or going on a cruise, but that’s really it. It’s not really a vacation, it’s like a business trip.

“But obviously you make it into a vacation because you’re doing what you love.”

Caroline Budis said she was overwhelmed by the experience of high-level baseball, but she also appreciates what it could do for her son’s future.

“It’s been crazy,” she said. “We never expected any of this, but our lives revolve around him now.”

“This month has been very hectic but it was definitely worth it, between getting the exposure and knowing my teammates rely on me,” Sean said. 

Back at ‘The Nation’ and two days after he returned from Georgia, a fatigued Budis didn’t have his best stuff against The Sports Yard 2, but a little less than his best is pretty darn good. His fastball sat in the low 80s and his off-speed pitches were in the high 60s. He worked to five full counts, but he also seemed to gain momentum as the game progressed. 

He allowed two hits but struck out three in the second inning. He struck out the side in the third. In the fourth a single, walk and error resulted in the only run he surrendered. He picked up two more strikeouts in the fifth to finish with 11 before Bagley pulled him after 87 pitches. 

“Usually I’m on seven days’ rest and today I’m on four,” Budis said. “And I’m coming from Georgia where we saw tough competition there and I threw a lot of pitches. So I didn’t have my best stuff. My fastball wasn’t as fast as it usually is, but I was using my offspeed pitches to my advantage. They weren’t really hitting sliders so I just threw a lot of them.”

“He’s had a tough workload – last week in Georgia and the week before in Florida and the week before in Boston – so his pitch count was up,” Bagley said.  “He was not his usual dominating self, but if you can punch 11 guys out you can usually respond to a walk or two.”

Budis was already scratching the surface of his potential this spring as a sophomore starter at Brearley. He posted a 3.65 ERA across 48 innings with 65 strikeouts against 29 walks. 

Budis has since exploded since summer baseball season began, thanks to a mid-80s fastball and his knee-buckling sliders and curves in the low 70s. 

Combine those physical factors with his mental attributes, namely that he comports himself very well and doesn’t get rattled very easily, and Budis is sure to improve with every outing going forward. Now there’s a scary thought for opposing lineups.

“He’s been great all year,” Bagley said. “He works fast, he’s a pleasure to play behind as an infielder, and guys rally behind him because they know they’re going to get a quality outing every time he takes the mound.”

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