Central Jersey Rebels open 11U Spring Fever with Friday sweep

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 18, 2024

TKR Reds catcher Mike DiArio unloads a throw to second base. 

By Sean Reilly

Mason Hudanish felt good about his curveball while warming up for his pitching start on Friday evening at Diamond Nation. 

That wasn’t particularly unusual for the right-hander, who had the opening game assignment for the Central Jersey Rebels 11U-KS against the TKR Reds at the 11U Spring Fever tournament in Flemington. 

What was different for Hudanish was how his pitch was breaking even better than normal while he was getting loose. 

“I could tell when I was warming up,” he said. “That happens a lot, but that it was moving that much was kind of crazy.” 

Hudanish required just 55 pitches to throw a complete-game four-hitter as the CJ Rebels beat the Reds, 4-1. He struck out two and walked none while throwing his first-ever complete game. 

“It felt amazing,” he said. “We pulled together as a team and got the dub.”

His defensive backing was just as solid. The TKR Reds put the ball in play frequently, but the Rebels played an errorless game. There were 10 chances handled on the ground, including a bunt, with the rest coming in the air. 

“They gave me a lot behind my back,” Hudanish said. “That really made me feel like we could win the game.” 

The best play was turned in at the most opportune time. The Reds, down three runs, got back-to-back singles from Joe Sher and Luca Siracusa with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Mike Guerci then lined a ball destined for the gap in left-center until Sal Guglielmelli made a running, diving catch. He then threw to shortstop Kellan Jones for an inning-ending double play.

Hudanish pitched 1-2-3 innings in both the fifth and sixth to close out his gem. 

Guglielmelli had an excellent all-around game. He went 2-for-3 with a run and two stolen bases batting second in the order. But the catch, both in its execution and its point during the contest, may have been his biggest contribution of all. 

“I kind of didn’t read it at first,” he said. “Then I saw it, made a dive and caught it, and we got the out at second.” 

He was also happy to make such a big play for his pitcher. 

“He was really good,” Guglielmelli said. “He was throwing nice strikes and his curveball was on.” 

The Rebels took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Jones led off with a walk and stole second. Guglielmelli followed with a single that sent Jones to third. A walk to Logan Saganowski loaded the bases. 

Blake Matney was safe on a fielder’s choice that forced out Saganowski at second but scored Jones. Guglielmelli scored the second run on an error. 

The Rebels scored their other two runs in the top of the second. Samson Pitko led off with a walk and stole second. Hudanish lined out to shortstop, but a throw to second in a double play attempt wound up going into right field, allowing Pitko to score. 

Gio Coecliff walked, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Liam Mai’s single to right field, boosting the lead to 4-0.

The New York-based Reds scored in the third. Vin Delgiorno led off with a single to left field. He stole two bases before scoring on Pete DiMaggio’s one-out single past first base. Hudanish escaped further trouble by getting the next two batters to ground out. 

DelGiorno also pitched four innings of scoreless relief for the Reds, allowing three hits with five strikeouts and two walks. 

The night actually got better for the Rebels. In its second game, Schiano pitched a complete-game four-hitter to beat Diamond Jacks Super 11U, 7-2. 

The sweep accomplished two things for the Trenton-based team. It clinched a first-place pool finish, meaning it will be one of three teams participating in the Sunday playoffs. 

The other was that the combination of a Friday sweep, with just one game to be played on Saturday, and just two pitchers used in the games, means that the pitching staff will be well set for whatever follows. 

“This was a great start for the team,” Hudanish said.

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