By Sean Reilly
Caleb Lopez made his first-ever visit to Diamond Nation this weekend, as he played with his Colossal Baseball 2028 13U teammates at the 13U Mother’s Day Classic.
He came to Flemington seeking to play well individually, and to help his South Jersey-based team win. Not only did he succeed on those goals, he achieved something extra, since his efforts earned tournament MVP honors after Colossal beat the Brick American Bulldogs, 5-2, for the championship on Sunday night.
Colossal Baseball went 5-0 on the weekend, including three wins on Sunday. It outscored the opposition, 42-14.
“This was my first time ever here, and I loved it,” Lopez said. “I knew we were coming here to win it.”
Three of the four pool winners did so with 3-0 records, and Colossal was seeded third in the four-team playoffs. They earned their championship slot by defeating Tribe Baseball, 3-2, in the semifinals.
Brick American was the fourth seed in the playoffs, but earned its berth in the final by ousting the top-seeded Toms River Black Sox, 8-5.
Despite the long day, each side had pitching lined up for the final. Tyson Brown got the start for Colossal while Josh Hoogvliet got the call for Brick American. Both were stellar.
Brown retired the first eight batters until allowing back-to-back walks in the third. He got out of that inning when the next batter grounded out to shortstop.
Colossal, meanwhile, was hitless until leadoff man Connor Byrne singled with two out in the bottom of the third. He stole second, and then scored when Nicholas Melograna looped a single into left field.
Brown pitched a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, and in the bottom of the inning, Connor McNally led off for Colossal with a triple to the gap in right center. Lopez was up next, and his ground out to second scored McNally for a 2-0 lead.
Tyler Rocha led off the fifth with the first hit for Brick American, a single to left field. But that was followed by a force out and 6-4-3 double play to keep Brown rolling.
“I had to take my time, and throw my pitches like I always do,” said Brown, a 4-10 right-hander. “I had to stay with my mechanics. I was using a nice sidearm fastball-slider combo, and got it working. We had a couple of pitchers left, but coach chose me so I had to represent good. We also had great defense, absolutely insane and probably the best in the tournament.”
In the bottom of the inning, Brown walked with one out and Eric Fudala singled to right field to put runners on the corners for Byrne. Fudala stole second, and Byrne was safe on an error that scored one for a 3-0 lead. Melograna grounded out to second, with Fudala scoring the fourth run. Andryc Molina followed with a single which skipped past the outfielder for a two-base error that scored Molina for a 5-0 advantage.
Brick American made a comeback bid in the seventh, which began with walks to Hoogvliet and Braden Kabus. Rocha then hit an RBI single to left field, which left runners on first and second for Will Snyder, whose single to center loaded the bases.
Christian Jacobi hit a sacrifice fly to center field for the first out. The next batter was safe on a fielder’s choice that forced out Snyder at second base. Brown then got the next batter to pop out to shortstop and end the game.
He finished with a four-hitter, with two strikeouts and four walks.
“That seventh inning was a little rough, but we held on,” Brown said. “This was my first trip here, and it was pretty nice.”