Capko’s big effort, Koretzy four strong lift Cubs in Fall League

By DN WRITING STAFF | October 11, 2023

Will Ferguson blasted a two-run home run for the Morris County Cubs.

By Rich Bevensee

Barely taller than the catcher who’s squatting behind the plate, Brady Capko doesn’t look very intimidating standing at the plate with a bat in hands. Capko admits as much, and opposing teams have demonstrated that very sentiment. Infielders smirk, outfielders move in.

Then the 5-foot, 105-pound Capko swings the bat, and the mood in the field changes quickly. Outfielders hustle after a ball in the gap, and Capko is the one smirking on second base.

Capko spent another day proving people wrong on Tuesday evening. The leadoff man for Morris County Cubs 16U White reached in all four plate appearances and finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and three runs scored in leading his team to a 15-1 decision over New Jersey Jays 15U in a Diamond Nation Fall League contest in Flemington. 

“Usually when I go to the plate, all I’m looking at is where the fielders are, and the first thing I see is the outfielders moving in,” Capko said. “I’m like, that’s a mistake. My thought is, let them make the mistake of moving in and hit it over their head.”

Capko’s two-run double in the top of the sixth inning was the third straight such hit by the Cubs in that inning, and the resulting nine-run rally turned a respectably close game into a rout.

The Cubs’ 15 runs also represented their best output in five games. The Cubs, who halted a three-game losing streak and improved to 2-3 overall, managed 10 runs in their previous four games combined. 

The Jays dropped their third straight and fell to 1-8 overall in Diamond Nation’s Fall League. 

Capko, a freshman at Roxbury, is the Cubs’ only freshman and by far the smallest man on the roster. Cubs coach Zach Fike doesn’t see size, only Capko’s offensive prowess.

“The thing is, you have to look at my stat book,” Fike said. “We’ve faced some good competition in this league and our guys are racking up the strikeouts. Guess how many Capko has. Zero. That’s why he’s my leadoff guy.”

For a freshman Capko has a very mature thought process regarding his at bats. He’s probably developed such an approach because he’s intent on proving people wrong every day. 

“I usually try to swing at a first-pitch fastball because it’s usually right down the middle, and if it’s not, just put the ball in play,” Capko said. “I try not to get in a two-strike count so that I can avoid the curveballs.”

“He has the correct approach at the plate,” Fike said. “If he gets two strikes, he knows the No. 1 job is to not strike out, and that allows him to get on base. Today he had an explosion. It was amazing to watch.” 

Capko led off the game with a smash down the third base line that Jays third baseman Dylan McGuinness could only knock down. That was an infield single.

In the third inning Capko hit a slow grounder to short that forced a low, rushed throw because Capko was hustling down to first. 

In the fifth, Capko roped a double down the left field line. In the sixth, his blast into the left center gap was the Cubs’ third two-run double of the inning.  

“I love proving people wrong,” Capko said. “They look down on you and they don’t know what I’m capable of.”

Another member of the Cubs who was out to make a point was starting pitcher Kyle Koretzy. The sophomore from North Hunterdon threw four innings and allowed one run on four hits and two walks and struck out seven.

Koretzky, who mastered the Jays with a four-seam fastball and curveball, pitched for the Jays for the past two summers before switching this fall to the Cubs.

“He said to me earlier in the week, ‘Coach I want this team, and I told him you got it, give me your best, and I think he did,” Fike said.

Jays leadoff hitter Joe Tedesco scrambles back for first while Cubs first Phin Paul awaits the throw.

In his four innings of work, Koretzky shined when there was traffic on the basepaths. He held the Jays to 1-for-8 hitting with runners in scoring position.

“This was my previous team so I really enjoyed pitching against them,” Koretzky said. “I like my new setting. I played for the Cubs before I played for the Jays so it’s nice coming back.”

The only run Koretzky allowed came in the bottom of the first when he walked leadoff hitter Joe Tedesco, who eventually scored on a balk. That tied the score at 1-1.

After that, Koretzky was a stubborn traffic cop. Only one batted ball left the infield. In three of his four innings of work, he ended the inning with a strikeout. 

“I threw mostly my curveball and four seam, and I tried to lay off my two seam and changeup,” Koretzky said. “I threw the changeup for one pitch. I didn’t feel too confident with it. I felt like they would have hit it if I threw it more. The curveball was very effective and that was a go-to pitch. I really enjoyed working the curveball into the fastball action.”

“Today he did a much better job keeping his composure and executing his two pitches,” Fike said. “He said he wanted to use his changeup more and I told him your fastball and curveball are a perfect 1-2 punch. Just stick to them and he did that and that’s why he was very effective today.”

For the Cubs offensively, Will Ferguson blasted a two-run home run. Andrew Guffanti (2-for-4, triple, RBI) and Jason LoBello (2-for-3) joined Capko as the only Cubs with multiple base hits.

Danny DiCarlo singled, walked three times and scored three runs. Colin Iberer and Phin Paul both cranked two-run doubles. Dan Cosmi had a pair of RBI groundouts. 

Lunden Chadwell pitched two scoreless innings of relief. He struck out the side in the fifth, then loaded the bases with two out in the sixth before ending the game with a strikeout.

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