Baseball U PA Scranton creates winning memory in 14U Boys of Summer

By DN WRITING STAFF | August 1, 2023

By Joe Hofmann

Baseball U. PA Scranton’s 14U baseball team had a solid summer – but it ended things with an emphatic, unmistakable bang.

What a way to end the summer tournament season!

And they can thank a lineup stacked with hitters.

Coach Evan Fardella’s team erupted for 44 runs, went 4-0 and emerged as the Red Bracket champions in the 14U Boys of Summer Tournament at Diamond Nation this past weekend.

“It felt great to have a tournament win under our belts to end the summer season,” tournament MVP Royce Thompson said. “It’s been a lot, coming to practice and leading up to a moment when we could finally win.”

Thompson had a big hand in it. He went 2-for-3 and scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the bottom of the fifth of the final to help secure a 7-5 victory over 3Up3Down Red. He singled and stole second to get into scoring position.

In four games, Thompson was 8-for-11, scored seven runs, had two RBIs, seven stolen bases and didn’t strike out a single time. He also played a solid center field.

It was a sweet way to finish the summer.

Royce Thompson of Baseball U. PA Scranton was named MVP of the 14U Boys of Summer.

“We went to two championship games and two semis this summer,” he said. “Slight mental errors cost us. Throughout the summer, we worked on and off the field and we were able to win a tournament in our last one. It feels pretty good.”

“We had a good summer,” teammate Derrick Nah added. “We had a great time playing. It was a fun time in the last tournament, getting a win to end the summer season.

“Our bats were alive this weekend.”

Baseball U. PA Scranton pitcher Cael Hafner went four innings in the final and struck out seven but walked six, so Fardella summoned Damian Budhai out of the bullpen and he responded by fanning three and allowing just two hits over the final two innings.

“We hit very well this weekend,” Fardella said. “That put us over the top. With the talent we have, we go in thinking we can win any tournament. We came together. It was our last tournament, so we had lots of energy.”

In a 14-5 victory over the Powerballers in the semifinals, the team had nine hits total and pulled off quite an accomplishment at the plate with nine different players having those hits.

Budhai, Luke Olivieri (3 RBI), and Nah had tripled and Hafner (2 RBI) and Alex Perez (2 RBI) each had a double for Baseball U, which kept the bases crowded by drawing eight walks.

The team beat the N.Y. Grays, 16-7, with 12 hits and nine more walks. Thompson was 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and Xander Stirr and Kellen Kroski were each 2-for-2 with an RBI.

In a 7-1 opening victory over the N.Y. Bluebirds, Thompson had two hits and Gavin Wardecki knocked in two to back the pitching of Nah.

The team finished a very respectable 18-8 this summer while losing five games in the final inning. They also lost a 9-7 decision to the Diamond Jacks on June 18 that saw Baseball U. make six errors in a tournament semifinal.

So, if the team from Scranton  had played a little tighter, it could have finished with 24 wins, according to Fardella.

“There were some games we should have won but we got something going in the last tournament and it was a great way to end the season,” Nah said. “We had a really good group of guys. We couldn’t close out a bunch of tournament games, but it was a good way to cap off the season.”

Thompson said, “Overall, I feel like our performance in the last tournament … we put it all together with our hitting, fielding, and coaching. All our losses helped to motivate us to work harder and get the tournament win.”

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