Cubs Navy slugs way to 15U Gold School’s Out title

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 27, 2022

By Will Harrigan

Coming into the School’s Out tournament with only 10 players, the Morris County Cubs 15U Navy squad was a bit short-handed this past weekend.

You would never know it by the way they consistently mashed the baseball all weekend at Diamond Nation.

The 15U Gold Division final was a fitting end for Pete Zoccolillo’s outfit, as the Cubs steamrolled to an 11-1, mercy rule victory over York Young Revolution 15U on Sunday night. Cubs Catcher Ryan Johannessen, who started five games in two days and finished a successful freshman campaign on the varsity squad at Roxbury this spring, garnered the MVP honors.

The championship capped off a tournament that saw the relentless Cubs offense outscore its opponents by a 53-9 margin en route to a 4-0-1 record. Bridgewater Panthers tied the tournament champions, 4-4, in pool play on Saturday.

“We really were hitting the ball hard all weekend,” said Zoccolillo. “Everyone in our lineup contributed in big ways throughout the tournament, and with only 10 guys we needed all of that,” said Zoccolillo. “Look at Ryan – he had to catch five games in two days. That’s a lot to ask of a high school kid but he stepped up in a big way.”

Consistent with how things went down all weekend, A.J. Terry christened the scoring by launching a two-run bomb over the left field wall to give the Cubs a 2-0 edge early. That blast scored Ryan Holman, who had walked with one out.

A six-spot in the second inning is what really busted the game open for the Cubs, and it was almost entirely done with two outs.

An RBI double off the bat of Ryan kicked off four straight run-scoring hits to turn a 4-0 advantage into an 8-0 lead after an inning and a half.

But before that, a fielding error is usually the hallmark of a big inning. A tough one by a Revolution outfielder on a Ben Nugent fly ball scored a pair of runs to initially ignite the rally.

Following a Holman RBI double, Terry laced a single to score him a batter later. From there, Brodie Freker and Joe Ronchetta each launched opposite field triples to further pile on the runs for the winners. Ronchetta went 2-for-2 and was struck by a pitch on the night.

The abundance of run support was much more than Morris Knolls rising sophomore Carter Sealy needed. Sealy tossed four innings of two-hit ball, and the lone run he surrendered was unearned.

“Carter did a good job locating his pitches and keeping the ball low in the zone,” Zoccolillo said. “He’s one of our most consistent arms and someone who’s going to get better as we go.”

While it was not a good night for the club based in central Pennsylvania, shortstop Joshua Pecunes did have a terrific performance. On the game’s second pitch, Pecunes roped a double off the left field wall off Sealy.

His next time up in the third, Pecunes would walk, steal second, and alertly bolt for home when a pop-up induced by Sealy was not immediately thrown in. That forced a throw that wound up clanking off the backstop for an error, getting the Revolution on the board.

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