By Sean Reilly
Brandon Cross has experienced much success this year at Diamond Nation, competing for Flores Baseball.
Most notably, his FB Braves Red team made their 10U debut by sweeping to the Fall Classic championship on Sept. 10.
The FB Braves 10U Red returned to ‘The Nation’ this weekend to play in the 10U Slugfest tournament.
Once again, the Braves emerged a winner.
In this case, the title came with a 12-11 championship game victory over the Bucks County Generals 10U Black.
It was the toughest game yet as a 10U team for the Braves, who held on after allowing six runs in the top of the fourth and final inning and after the 1:50 game clock expired. The final out came on a pitcher-to-first ground out with the tying run on third base.
For Cross, the combination of drama, offense and even some rain, which caused a 40-minute delay during the top of the third inning, also made this game among the favorites of the eight played and won by his team in Flemington over the last two weeks.
“These are the types of games I like to play,” he said. “This was one of the toughest we’ve played, but also one of the funnest. I like playing in the rain, and at nighttime, and on the turf. It inspires me.”
The FB Braves won the tournament by going 4-0 with a 51-28 run difference. Last week, they won the Fall Classic by going 4-0 with a 47-16 run differential.
Offense is clearly a strength for the Fairfield-based team, which had eight hits and also benefited from eight walks and a hit batter in the championship victory over Bucks County.
The Generals scored three times in the top of the first, with Weston Misterman hitting a two-run single and Brady Doran adding a sacrifice fly.
The Braves responded with five runs in the bottom of the inning, before adding four more in the second, for a 9-3 lead.
Julius Donado hit an RBI double and Carter Fusco added a two-run triple to highlight the first inning. Cross had an RBI single in the second inning, which included Garrett Weir coming to bat with the bases loaded, and all three runners scoring on wild pitches.
The Generals closed to 9-5 in the third, with Lucas Pio hitting an RBI double before scoring on a wild pitch.
The Braves hit for the final time in the third, and added three more runs. The big blow was a two-run double by Cross.
With only a couple of minutes left on the clock, the Braves just needed to protect a seven-run lead in the bottom of the inning. The Generals, however, put up a very determined fight.
Garrett Weir ll of the FB Braves was named the 10U Slugfest MVP.
The comeback attempt started with a walk to Leo Ronca, followed by an inside-the-park home run to right center from Jake Stephenson.
The next two batters reached, and Mark Geiger followed with an RBI double to right center, cutting the deficit to 12-8, with runners on second and third and still nobody out.
Tucker Chapman was then safe on a two-base error, with two more scoring. The first out was recorded on a ground out that moved Chapman to third.
Misterman was the next batter, and a wild pitch during his at-bat scored Chapman, and got the Generals within a run. Misterman then walked, putting the tying run aboard.
A pitcher-to-first ground out moved Misterman to second, and another wild pitch sent him to third. But the batter was retired on another comebacker, allowing the Braves to exhale and collect another championship trophy for the organization, which has won more than a dozen across all age groups in 2023 at ‘The Nation.’
Weir, who walked twice in the final, was selected the tournament MVP.
“This game was fun,” he said. “I was a little bit nervous, but we trust each other. This was one of the toughest games, but it was fun.”