By Sean Reilly
It was only fitting that Frankie Caputo’s final at-bat of the weekend at Diamond Nation resulted in a double.
The hit, which bounced over the fence in center field, came with two out in the top of the sixth inning, and put runners on second and third in a tie game between his L.I. Baseball True Diamond team against Bonnie Braves 10U in the championship of the 10U Youth World Series in Flemington.
The double was Caputo’s sixth of a three-game day on Monday at Diamond Nation. And it proved especially critical since, with next-batter C.J. Castillo at the plate, a wild pitch scored Dylan Hanovic from third with what proved to be the winning run in a 2-1 triumph for the title.
“This weekend was good,” said Caputo, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “I hit a lot of doubles and in that at-bat I was looking to hit it hard.”
LIB True Diamond, out of Long Island, went 5-0 over the tournament and outscored its opponents, 63-20. It was boosted in the final by pitcher Joey Corradino, who pitched a complete game with three hits allowed and seven strikeouts.
“This is an unbelievable feeling that I know we’re never going to forget,” said LIB coach Tom Gilmartin. “These boys have been working hard since the winter. We just play so well together. We came out scoring 61 runs in pool play, giving up 19, and we knew coming into the championship game it was going to be tough. And it’s exactly what a championship game should be about. It was a 2-1 game. It’s an unbelievable feeling to come out on top against great competition. I can’t describe the feeling myself, but I know the boys earned it. They worked so hard. Just getting here is a blessing and then to win it in such a low-scoring, competitive game speaks for itself.”
The Bonnie Braves, based in Brooklyn, had won their first four games while outscoring their foes, 54-9. The Braves took a 1-0 lead when Mason Mercado homered in the bottom of the second inning.
LIB tied the game in the fourth. Amari Martinez led off with a double. After a strikeout, Caputo grounded out to third, with Martinez advancing to third. Castillo was then safe on an infield error which allowed Martinez to score.
LIB, which turned an infield double play to get out of potential trouble in the bottom of the fourth, got clutch pitching from Corradino in the fifth.
The Braves began that inning with Mercado leading off with a single on a soft pop that landed between the pitcher and shortstop. But Corradino struck out the next three batters to keep the game tied heading into the sixth.
The Braves retired the first two batters in that inning before Hanovic walked on a full count. Caputo’s double and the wild pitch followed.
“He had a huge weekend,” Gilmartin said. “I’m so proud of him. He had the six doubles, and that last one really sparked us in the last inning.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Dawson Bloomfield led off for the Braves, and he beat out a slow roller down the third base line. A strike out was followed by a batter reaching on an error to put runners on first and second. After a force out for the second out, there were still runners on first and second with the Braves’ cleanup man at the plate. But Corradino got a strikeout to end the game and secure the championship.
“To be in a situation like this is so surreal,” Gilmartin said. “Because not only do you dream of it as a player, but as a coach, too. You dream about your first championship with such a young group that works so hard.”