By Will Harrigan
The 13U fall season may be the biggest adjustment for a travel baseball player.
It’s the first time a player gets the chance to play on the ’60-’90 diamond, having graduated from a Little League sized field that 12Us play on.
Based on the way this weekend went, the Diamond Jacks 13U Gold squad is adjusting quite well.
Using two huge innings to seal the deal, the DJacks rolled to a 10-0 victory over East Coast Lumberjacks 2027 in the 2022 Slugfest championship game at Diamond Nation. The DJacks’ only loss was a 1-0 decision to Locked In Baseball Expos on Sunday.
Going 3-1 in this six-team foray, the DJacks outscored their opponents by a 30-11 margin. Andrew Wheeler garnered MVP honors for the champions.
“Once you start on the 13 level on the 90-60, it’s all about pitching and defense, making the basic plays,” said DJacks coach Kevin Smigocki. “Both of those things were really good for us this weekend, and that’s why we won the tournament.”
The champions got it going by putting up a four-spot in the fourth inning of the final.
Phil Nowakowski and Jameson Bower got things started by drawing back-to-back one-out walks, setting up Scott to double home Nowakowski and get the DJacks on the board. A batter later, Gianni Franzoni would instantly double the lead by hitting a sacrifice fly to center.
An error on a fly ball off Oliver LaLonde’s bat brought home two more, and the DJacks had a commanding 4-0 lead after two innings.
That would be more than enough run support for Jayden Cortes, who tossed four innings of one hit ball, while fanning four batters along the way.
“Our game plan is to pitch to contact and play defense, and Jayden pounded the zone to most of their batters,” Smigocki said. “He threw the ball well today and he will get better as he adjusts to 60.”
The six-spot in the fourth not only blew things wide open, but sent this game to a mercy-rule finish.
Wheeler got it started with a single, and that was chased by a Nowakowski walk to promptly put two men on. Bower then delivered the first big blow of the inning, tripling into the right-center field gap to score both runners and run the lead to 6-0.
Bower himself would come around to score a batter later, when Jackson Scott singled him home.
Later in the inning, Addison Adornato added a big hit of his own, singling in another pair of runs to extend the lead to 10-0.
Needing to hold the Lumberjacks scoreless in the bottom half of the frame, Cortes did the job, getting three outs and only surrendering a walk to seal the victory.
Andrew Lewis’ single in the first inning was the only base hit for the Lumberjacks, a club that fields most of its players from upstate New York and Pennsylvania.