The Morris County Cubs Navy were in the process of cutting a gorge into the Diamond Jacks Super 13U’s beefy eight-run lead in the bottom of the third inning. They had two runs in and three more potential runs were aboard.
Then Jackson Magly unloaded a shot to deep left-center field that had the sound and fury of a three-run triple. But the Super 13U’s center fielder Danny Contiliano read the ball very well and was on his horse.
“I didn’t think I could get to it at first,” admitted Contiliano in the post-game. “Then I thought, maybe I can. I started sprinting hard, jumped and caught it.” Ranging deep and to his right, Contiliano reached up and snared the blast with a backhand grab.
The catch appeared even more unlikely than Contiliano described but, when he came down with the ball, the Cubs would have to settle for a sac fly and one run instead of at least three runs that would have shaved the deficit to 8-5.
Magly, in fact, was the first batter that Brian Tulli faced in relief of lefthander Cole Raymond and he would be the first of nine straight batters the righty reliever would retire to enable the Diamond Jacks to regain a foothold in the Williams Harley Davidson 13U championship game.
Tulli would earn the win with 4.2 innings of three-hit ball as the Diamond Jacks secured the tournament title, 9-5. He permitted two runs but neither were earned as he struck out five, walked none and hit a batter. He worked a deadly accurate fastball and an elusive curveball to tame the Cubs lineup.
“My curveball was working great,” said Tulli. “It was getting us outs. And I wasn’t afraid to throw strikes with my fastball because we have such a good defense.” Tulli used the curveball to get a strikeout looking to strand the bases loaded in the sixth. He then struck out the side in the seventh, the final out coming on another deftly placed curveball.
“I’ve been working with Brian since January on his location, trying to get those fastball strikes early, so he can go to his breaking stuff after,” said Super 13U assistant coach Chris Allen. “His curveball is so much better than it was just a couple months ago.”
The Diamond Jacks (5-0) scored a run in the first inning, four in the second and three more runs in the third to build the early 8-0 lead.
Jack Markovich drew a leadoff walk in the top of the first inning, stole second and third and scored on an infield throwing error. Alex Famolari was in the middle of things in the second when he singled hard to center field to drive in two runs and cap the four-run rally. Tulli led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and later scored on a wild pick off attempt at third base. Markovich brought the other run home when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Raymond shot the left-center field gap for a double in the third inning that drove in Luke Bormann. Brandon Lall then slashed a two-out double down the left field line to score courtesy runner Matt Baker. Lall scored later on an infield error to lift the lead to 8-0..
Cole Raymond was pretty precise in the early going, retiring seven of the first eight batters he faced and struck out three of them. But his command evaded him suddenly as he walked three straight batters. Mason Wilson then singled home a run before Raymond plunked Cole Dionyssiou to force home a second run. That’s when Tulli entered and Contiliano put on his Superman cape in center field.
“Danny got a great jump on that shot,” said Super 13U coach Mike Raymond. “That was a game-changing play. We had great execution all around and all of our guys contributed in so many different ways.” The complete team effort was reflected in the tournament MVP honor, which was awarded to the entire Super 13U team.
Wilson went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs for the Cubs (3-1). Famolari delivered the two-run single and drew a walk for the Diamond Jacks. Bormann went 2-for-3 and scored twice. Lall had a single and a double, drove in a run and scored twice. Joa Rivera had two singles, drew a walk and scored a run in three effective at bats. Lorenzo Maselli chipped in with an RBI single in the fifth that extended the lead to 9-3.
The Diamond Jacks outscored their five tournament opponents 64-12. The Morris County Cubs Navy, which entered the final having outscored their first three opponents 33-1, finished with a 38-10 runs advantage.
Williams Harley Davidson recaps
Richmond Titans (Giordano) 11, Grit Black 10U 7
Richmond Titans (Giordano) defeated Grit Black 10U, 11-7, in the 10U Williams Harley Davidson championship game. Christian Falzone of Richmond was named the 10U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Richmond (4-0) outscored its opponents 41-10. Grit Black 10U (3-1) held a 48-16 runs advantage on its opponents.
Jersey Storm 6, Pro Skills 11U 1
Jersey Storm defeated Pro Skills 11U, 6-1, in the 11U Williams Harley Davidson championship game. Michael Alberto of Jersey Storm was named the 11U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Jersey Storm (5-0) outscored its opponents 53-15. Pro Skills (4-1) held a 52-12 runs advantage on its opponents.
Taconic Rangers 8 FB Braves Elite 3
The Taconic Rangers defeated FB Braves Elite, 8-3, in the 12U Williams Harley Davidson championship game. The MVP was awarded to the entire Taconic Rangers team. The Rangers (5-0) outscored their opponents 63-16. FB Braves Elite (4-1) held a 53-16 runs advantage on its opponents.
Diamond Jacks Super 14U 8, Wladyka Baseball American 2
The Diamond Jacks Super 14U defeated Wladyka Baseball American, 8-2, in the 14U Williams Harley Davidson championship game. John Donahue and Davidd Varoli of Super 14U were named co-MVPs of the 14U tournament. Super 14U (5-0) outscored its opponents 59-8. Wladyka Baseball American (4-1) held a 52-11 runs advantage on its opponents.