Collective hustle carries SC Combat 13U to Harley championship

By DN WRITING STAFF | April 30, 2024

By Sean Reilly

Aggressiveness can come in many forms on the baseball field, whether it be in hitting style, base running, pitching approach, and more.

The Scanzano Sports Center Combat National A.I. brought that brand of ball to Diamond Nation over the weekend, and it helped the South Jersey-based team capture the 13U Williams Harley Davidson tournament championship.

The capper to its outstanding weekend came on Sunday evening, when it notched a 9-4 championship game victory over the Diamond Jacks Super 13U in Flemington.

Combat went 5-0 over two days, with a 33-12 run differential. Its overall spring-season record is now 12-2-1. 

Anthony Granese was selected tournament MVP, after finishing a fine weekend with a 2-for-4, two RBI showing in the final. 

“The Diamond Jacks have been my rival for a while. We’ve won and lost against them, so it was nice,” Granese said. 

To get to the final, Combat pulled out a 5-4 win over 13U Grit Black in the semis. Granese doubled in that game, part of a 5-for-12 weekend at the plate.

“We swung the bats well, played very good defense and pitched,” he said. “We also ran the bases well. We have a bunch of fast kids.” 

The 10 stolen bases by Combat in the championship meant plenty. But there were also instances of seeking extra bases on balls put in play, and a couple of advancements on errors off pickoff attempts.

C.J. Lovelidge was the winning pitcher for SC Combat. He worked the first five innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits. He struck out two and walked three batters. 

Combat took the field almost immediately after its semifinal win. The Diamond Jacks had to wait almost an hour, after a quick 10-1 mercy rule triumph over the Diamond Jacks 13U Gold in the other semifinal. 

Combat’s momentum carried over when it scored twice in the top of the first. 

James Sanfilippo and Vince Olivo drew back-to-back walks with one out, and Nick Vlastaris followed with a two-run triple. 

The Diamond Jacks, who ended 4-1 with a 43-12 run difference, tied it in the bottom of the frame. 

Chase Hallett (2-for-2, walk) led off with a double to right field, and he scored on Jordan Vesey’s single to left. Vesey stole second and scored on a two-out single to right field by Ryan Jezorwski. 

Combat went ahead, 3-2, in the second after Nolan Carter led off with a single to left, stole second, and scored when Corey Hoffman grounded into a fielder’s choice after Mike Yankowski had singled.

Anthony Granese of Scanzano Combat was named 13U Williams Harley Davidson MVP.

Combat added four more runs in the third to push its lead to 7-2. 

The first four batters in the inning scored, starting with Reed Collum, who walked, moved to second on a pickoff error and dashed to third on a wild pitch. 

Miles Balmores was safe on a fielder’s choice that scored Collum, and he stole second base. A single to center by Sanfilippo scored the next run, and he moved to second on a throw. Olivo followed with an RBI base hit to center, and he stole second before scoring on a single by Granese. 

Combat added two more runs in the fifth to increase the lead to 9-2. 

Balmores led off with a single, stole second and reached third on a passed ball. He scored on a one-out single to center by Vlastaris. Granese added a RBI single to right-center to deliver the final run. 

The Diamond Jacks scored once in the fifth, after Henry Kosart led off with a double to left field and scored on a one-out balk. The Diamond Jacks also scored in the sixth, after Hallett singled to center with one out and later scored on an error. 

Aside from Granese, both Vlastaris (2-for-4) and Yankowski (2-for-3) finished with multiple hits for Combat.

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