Diamond Jacks 12U Gold pitcher Jameson Bower winds up in Saturday’s game.
By Will Harrigan
The pitches Jameson Bower saw must have looked like beach balls on Saturday. How else could he have belted two home runs to dead center field?
And let the record show: He hit them not only over the fence, but beyond the trees planted behind them for good measure.
A one-man wrecking crew, a grand slam and two-run shot by Bower vaulted the Diamond Jacks 12U Gold’s to an 12-4 victory over NJ Rising Rebels 12U in the Spring Classic at Diamond Nation.
Bower credited a better line of sight for his monstrous performance in the second game.
“I was able to see the pitch being released much better than the first game. It is a lot easier when you see something 65, 66 coming in instead of 73,” Bower said.
The DJacks, who belted four homers as a team in this one, finished their day at 1-1 in Pool A. They fell to the Morris County Cubs’ Navy squad by an 11-6 count in their opener.
The Rising Rebels also finished their day 1-1, having defeated Pro Skills 6-5 in their initial tilt.
Scoreless in the second, the initial Diamond Jacks rally started when Gianni Franzoni doubled. Walks by Gabriel Miller and Andrew Wheeler followed to load the bases, then an RBI single to right by Jordan Vesey scored Franzoni to move the Jacks up 1-0.
That brought Bower to the plate with the bases still juiced, and he got a hold of a 1-1 offering and put it past the trees in dead center, giving the Diamond Jacks a 5-0 lead.
“I’ve never hit one that far here. To do it twice in a day is absolutely crazy,” Bower said.
Bower struck out seven in three brilliant innings on the mound but ran into trouble in the fourth.
James Gaven of the Rebels would drive in a run with one out in the fourth, shaving the lead to 5-1. Two batters later, catcher Carter McLaughlin laced a single to center field to plate two more runs, cutting the winners’ lead in half.
With Franzoni now on in relief, Christian Fell would deliver one last RBI single to move the Rebels within 5-4. The relentless Diamond Jacks offense went right to work to build the advantage back up.
Franzoni and Wheeler walked and reached on an error, respectively, and came around to score, after a wayward pickoff attempt wound up in the left field corner. The crushing error spotted the Diamond Jacks a 6-4 lead.
Vesey would reach on another Rising Rebels fielding mishap, setting the stage for another blast by Bower to make it 8-4. Roli Fujita blasted a home run of his own to right-center to run the lead up to 9-4 after four complete.
Another long ball off the bat of Franzoni, also scoring Jayden Cortes (walk), helped push the Diamond Jacks to the brink of the eight-run mercy rule. They’d get it two batters later when Wheeler laced an RBI single.
Both teams still have their playoff hopes alive, but have work to do. The Rebels must defeat the Cubs to see their way through to the semis, and if the Diamond Jacks were to win their game tomorrow, the tiebreaker would go to runs scored.
“It was definitely a nice way to rebound from the first game,” said Diamond Jacks coach Kevin Smiegocki. “Whether we advance or not is not in our control, but either way we want to keep the momentum going into next weekend if need be.”