By Will Harrigan
Winning a week-long tournament like the Blue Chips Prospects event is not a small feat.
The competition is stiff in every game, the weight of a long summer is felt, and winning the Red American bracket of the tournament meant you needed six wins.
Despite those obstacles, the Body Armor Titans closed out their summer as champions.
Rallying from four down on top of all that, the Titans came back to notch a 6-5 victory over Tucci Baseball Select in a Friday afternoon championship matinee at Diamond Nation.
Undefeated in six starts, the Titans from Long Island outscored their opponents by a 39-15 margin. Patrick DeSarno and T.J. Bradford shared MVP honors for the Titans.
Tucci Elite finished 5-1, but scored a tournament-high 52 runs on the week.
“It took a total team effort to do this, and we wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for all 11 guys. We had injuries and couldn’t bring the full squad,” said Titans coach Eric Weiner. “We gave the MVP to two very deserving guys, but everyone was an MVP this week.”
What turned out to be the go ahead run was scored in the second inning, with the run coming in the form of perfectly executed baseball.
Knotted up at 4-4, Bradford walked and stole second one pitch later. Angel Cartagena – an uncommitted rising junior catcher but the three-hitter on a team with multiple Division I signees – laced an opposite field single to score Bradford and put the Titans up 5-4.
T.J. Bradford and Patrick DeSarno were named co-MVPs of the 16U Blue Chip Red American Bracket.
Bradford would single in the fifth to add insurance for the Titans, and came around to score when Joseph Perri drove him in on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Those runs were enough for Titans relief pitcher Alex Bono to work with in a gritty effort.
Pitching the final four innings, Bono worked out of numerous jams to hold Tucci to just one run.
Twice did Tucci load the bases, but in the third, Bono induced a force out and struck out a batter to escape trouble.
In the sixth and final inning, Tucci loaded the bases with no one out. Bono then went to work, inducing a shallow fly out, a force out grounder off Brady Price’s bat which brought in a run, and a strikeout looking to end the game.
“That’s what we have come to expect out of Alex,” said Weiner. “The kid is a competitor, and even when he doesn’t give his best performance, he delivers when he needs to.”
Based on how the top of the first went, it appeared the Titans would be in for a long day.
Following walks drawn by John Schachinger and Antwan Cardona, Tucci’s Derek Porto hit a laser over the left field fence to instantly give his team a 3-0 lead.
Three batters later – and following a pitching change – Carlo Tucci would triple in a run to score Brian Guerrero to make it 4-0 for the Connecticut based squad. Guerrero went 3-for-3 on the day in a fine showing.
The Titans would respond in the bottom half of the first to level it up. DeSarno singled and Bradford walked to set the table, and the bases were juiced after a Cartagena single.
Bono would walk to force in a run, and Perri doubled to left-center to score two and cut the lead to 4-3. An RBI grounder by Rutgers-bound Nicholas Frusco tied things up at 4-4 a batter later.
The big win wraps up what was an extended but successful summer for the Titans.
“We only lost five games all summer, and had a blast doing it,” said Weiner. “But it is a long summer playing all those games, and I’m glad we went out with a trophy.”