Blohm three-hitter sends Wolfpack to 13U DN World Series title

By Bob Behre | July 9, 2024

You know those people who never leave a crumb behind when they make a sandwich? You know the type, meticulous, efficient and painfully attentive to details.

That was Brayden Blohm of the Connecticut Wolfpack on Monday afternoon at Diamond Nation. Blohm tossed a tidy three-hit shutout, shutting down the Philly Bandits over seven innings while striking out six and walking, you guessed it, none on the way to a 3-0 victory in the 13U Red Diamond Nation World Series championship game.

“That was far and away Brayden’s best outing of the season,” said Wolfpack coach Mike Fournier.

Blohm kept the Bandits at bay while his teammates scratched out three runs, each a dagger, as well as the righthander was dealing. The big blow was J.J. Nielsen’s one-out RBI double in the fourth that extended a tenuous 1-0 lead to a seemingly robust two-run cushion.

“J.J. had a great tournament for us,” said Fournier. “He pitched twice this week in pool play and shoved. All of our guys pitched great. We had two no-hitters. I think we gave up five hits in pool play.”

Blohm showed signs early that his fastball and slider mix would be a challenge for a gritty Bandits club that came into the contest at 5-0 and with an impressive 35-13 runs advantage over its tournament opponents.

“I think I had them set up all game,” said Blohm. There was no better indicator of that than when he struck out the leadoff batter in the fifth inning looking at a slider, then struck out the next batter looking at a fastball.

“I controlled the fastball pretty well,” said Blohm. “It definitely was one of my best performances.”

The only real trouble Blohm encountered occurred in the second inning when Freddy Master led off for the Bandits and reached on a throwing error. Mason Bicht then singled to center field with one out, pushing Master to second. Grayson Tobias followed with a liner to left-center but center fielder Trip Keyes made a nice running catch for the second out. Blohm got the next batter to bounce back to the box to end the only real threat provided by the Bandits.

Brayden Blohm of the CT Wolfpack was named 13U Red Diamond Nation World Series MVP.

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack was stifled a bit offensively as well, as righties Steve Verdolini and Master limited them to just three hits. But the Wolfpack took advantage of seven walks and two hit batters, utilizing those extra nine base runners to help them steal 10 bases.

Justin Perez delivered the Wolfpack’s first run on a sac fly to right field in the bottom of the second. Alex Sileo started it with a one-out walk before Trip Keyes was hit by a pitch. Jacob Sanchez loaded the bases with a single to center field. It looked like right fielder Grayson Tobias would have a shot at cutting down Sileo at the plate on Perez’s fly ball, but his throw was a bit up the third base line and catcher Damian Mancini just missed the tag as he reached back for the runner.

Sanchez led off the fourth and was hit by a pitch. He stole second and third before Nielsen (2-for-4, RBI, two stolen bases) drove him in with a shot into the right-center field gap. Bandits third baseman Jimmy Clark helped to short-circuit the Wolfpack rally when he fielded Caeden Timmeny’s squeeze bunt attempt and fired home to just nab Nielsen.

The Wolfpack (5-0) tacked on a big third run in the fifth without the benefit of a hit. Blake White drew a leadoff walk, stole second, reached third on Sileo’s grounder to the right side and scored on a wild pitch. To the Bandits’ credit, they limited the damage courtesy of their left fielder’s running catch near the wall that hauled in a Sanchez drive for the second out. That left Keyes on second base after he had walked and stolen the bag. Reliever Master then struck out Perez to end the inning.

Clark led off the top of the seventh for the Bandits with a single through the middle. But the efficient Blohm cleaned up that temporary mess by turning Master’s comebacker into a pretty 1-6-3 double play. He, appropriately, ended the game with a strikeout looking.

“Our guys are great athletes who work hard every day,” said Fournier. “We’re a new group and we had a tough start but we’re starting to get comfortable. They are figuring out how to win. They have a great attitude, really good energy and the effort is always there.”

The Wolfpack’s dominance on the mound was reflected in their 47-3 run differential in five tournament games.

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