Bogey, Almeida, Murray steer CT Grind to KOD 14U title

By DN WRITING STAFF | April 18, 2023

By Rich Bevensee

Jake Bogey and Alex Almeida were two easy targets for headline writers after the Connecticut Grind stormed through the King of the Diamond 14U tournament at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Bogey offered a masterful pitching performance through six innings of the championship game, allowing three hits and striking out seven. Almeida caught four of the Grind’s five games, led the team in hitting and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

But there was a third hero – he could even be considered an unsung hero – whose pinch hit single was more than just a base hit.

With the Grind protecting a two-run lead late in the game, Colin Murray came off the bench to pinch hit, and he delivered a clutch hit if there ever was one, a two-run single which gave the Grind some breathing room in its eventual 5-1 victory over the PA Shockers 14U Blue in the 14U championship game on Sunday evening.

“The first one I liked I wanted to take a hack at, but I was down 0-2 so I had to stay safe with that,” Murray said. “I liked the one I got and pulled it and got the job done. It felt great coming off the bench. It was a memory to take in.”

Murray reflected on why he thought Grind coach Michael Moras chose him to hit at that particular time. The Grind led 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Murray was sent to hit with the bases loaded and two out. He delivered a 1-2 pitch into left field for the biggest hit of Grind’s season thus far.

“Coach knows I can come up clutch,” Murray said. “I’ve been with them for a while so I think he has a lot of faith in me.”

“Colin’s got a no-stride kind of swing and he’s the kind of player who will put the ball in play,” Moras said. “He got it done with two strikes and kept it short. He did a great job getting the big hit.”

Murray’s teammates were still whooping it up for him as they took the field for the top of the sixth, for they knew what a bigger lead meant for Bogey.

The lanky righthander allowed a single run in the second inning and otherwise didn’t flinch, and he appeared to get stronger as the game progressed, reaching 78 miles per hour consistently in the sixth and striking out two of the three batters he faced in his final inning.

Bogey – who tormented the Shockers with a four-seam, two-seam, slider and curveball – allowed three hits and two walks in the first two innings. He permitted two baserunners in his final four innings of work.

“I felt confident because I’ve done it a million times,” Bogey said. “I gave up a couple hits early but I had to stay calm and keep my composure. It was a little rough at first and then I got settled in. By the time I got to the last inning I was really in a groove.”

Alex Almeida took home MVP honors after his CT Grind team won the 14U King of the Diamond championship.

There was no dropoff in velocity when Andrew Valentino came in to pitch the seventh for the Grind. Valentino, who topped at 78, induced a grounder to short (where Bogey showed off his arm a little more) and ended the game with a pair of strikeouts, including a ridiculous, game-ending strike three curveball.

Almeida, who walked twice and scored once in the title game, also tagged out a runner at the plate in the second to help shorten a potential Shockers rally.

“Alex swung the bat really well this weekend and showed us the way back there,” Moras said.

“I think I bring leadership and hard work and I lead by example,” Almeida said. “I just go up there every at bat with a mindset to put the ball in play, hit the ball hard to the right side.”

With Almeida shouldering most of the load behind the plate, the Grind made quite an impression in its first visit of the season to Diamond Nation, outscoring the opposition by a whopping count of 49-1.

“This team is capable of a whole lot more and this is just the start of it,” Almeida said.

The Shockers grabbed the early lead when Chase Kelly stroked a single through the middle to score Trent Lutz in the top of the second.

In the bottom of the third the Grind took control. Jack Henry Palazzo and Jack Swanson walked before Colton Smith slugged a one-out double to the left field wall to give the Grind a 2-1 lead. Smith later scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.

In the fifth, the stage was set for Murray when Valentino and Bogey walked with one out, and Almeida loaded the bases with two out with another walk.

For the Shockers in the title game, Trent Lutz pitched the first 2⅓ innings and gave up two runs on one hit and five walks. Jackson Kreider allowed two runs on two hits with five walks and two strikeouts in two innings. Connor Murray mopped up the final 1⅔ innings, surrendering a run on one hit and one walk with three strikeouts.

The Shockers, making their first trip to the Nation this season, were undefeated through four games going into the final and had outscored opponents by a decisive count of 33-5.

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *