By Rich Bevensee
As much as the Diamond Jacks Super 12U team has spent the spring and summer steamrolling opponents – mostly due to averaging more than 10 runs per game – Ryan Jezorwski and his teammates don’t seem to mind a close, low-scoring game to keep them sharp.
The Body Armor Titans of Bayport, NY were more than happy to oblige, as they forced the Diamond Jacks to scratch out single runs per-inning to stay ahead.
Bryson Auten and Fenton Morrissey jacked solo home runs, Jezorwski drove in two runs and the patient Diamond Jacks eventually pulled away for a 6-1 victory in the championship game of the 12U Beat The Heat tournament on Sunday afternoon at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“It’s very good to play a good team,” said Jezorwski, “Jaws” to his teammates. “If you crush teams, you don’t get better, but if you play good teams, you get better.”
Jezorwski, the Diamond Jacks catcher who went 2-for-3 in the final, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“It means a lot. I’m very thankful for being on a really good team,” he said.
“He always came up big when we needed hits, or just to knock in a run, or find a way to get a run in with two strikes,” Diamond Jacks coach Mark Crawford said. “He did that all weekend and he did a great job.”
The Diamond Jacks, who secured their third Diamond Nation title of the summer, lost their last two championship game appearances before Sunday. They are now 3-5 in Diamond Nation finals, 10-7 in playoff games, and 45-12-1 overall.
The Diamond Jacks lost in the championship game of the Youth World Series (July 10) and the Mid-Summer Classic (July 16), both times to the Green Brook-based Out Of The Park Cyclones.
Ryan Jezorwski of the Diamond Jacks Super 12U was named 12U Beat The Heat MVP.
“I don’t think we swung the bats really well this weekend,” said Crawford, who saw his team outscore four opponents 24-6, a modest differential by Diamond Jacks standards. “I don’t know if July is starting to wear on them, but defense and pitching saved us. That’s a good team over there so I was happy with how we got it done.”
Bryson Auten earned a complete game victory after allowing one run on four hits, one walk and one hit batsman. He also struck out eight by mixing his fastball with quite an effective curveball.
“I was throwing mostly curveballs, and it was working most of the time,” Auten said. “When my curveball was working I kept throwing it until they could hit it and when they were off-balance I used my fastball.”
Auten gave up a leadoff double to Derek Tomitz and an RBI single to the Titans’ Alex Pagano in the first inning. Auten was untouchable after that, authoring five scoreless innings.
Auten also picked off two runners with a move to make right-handers envious. He stranded a Titans base runner at third when he erased a runner at first for the final out of the second inning. He picked another runner off at first base in the third inning.
“That’s two outings in a row he’s been really solid,” Crawford said. “He got unlucky last weekend, but once he gets through that first inning he goes on cruise control.”
The Diamond Jacks trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the first when Nick Stangota singled, stole second and third and scored on a Jezorwski groundout. Auten followed by launching his 20th homer of the season, a 297-foot shot which landed in the tallest tree beyond the center field fence.
Rich Griswold led off the second with a grounds rule double, but Titans’ pitcher Logan Kirwin displayed ice in his veins by striking out the side to get out of danger.
In the third, Morrissey singled with one out, stole second and third and scored when Jezorwski singled to center for a 3-1 lead.
The Diamond Jacks loaded the bases in the fourth with none out and Henry Kusant forced in a run with a walk, but again, Kirwin showed his stubborn side by getting three strikeouts to cease the damage.
Morrissey blasted his 14th homer of the season to lead off the fifth. Jezorwski singled, Auten doubled and Jordan Vesey stroked an RBI single to account for the final score.
The Diamond Jacks’ road to the final included wins over Bell Ringers Debar, 8-0, the Morris County Cubs, 5-4, and N.Y. Gothams, 5-1.
The Titans reached the final by defeating Valley Dogs 12U Gray, 15-1, Locked in Expos, 6-5, and Diamond Jacks 12U Gold, 20-6.