By Sean Reilly
Many times in youth baseball, a starting pitcher will have no idea about the talent level of the team he is facing.
That wasn’t the case for Madden DeMelia, who got the start for the Toms River Bombers in the final of 11U Fall Harvest tournament on Sunday morning at Diamond Nation.
The opponent was the powerful Northern Westchester Outlaws, whose bats tore through their prior three games over the weekend, including one over the Bombers on Saturday.
DeMelia was very respectful, but didn’t really care. Because he knew the only way to succeed was to stay within himself and pitch to his own strengths.
“I knew they were really good,” he said. “I just went in like they were a normal team who we never played. I had confidence in my team that we could do well. I just had to throw the ball hard and work the count. My curveball and fastball are usually the pitches that work for me, and as soon as I threw them, I could tell they were going to be good.”
DeMelia threw a two-hit shutout, as the Bombers gained an 8-0 victory in five innings for the championship in Flemington.
He struck out eight, capped by the last two batters of the game, and walked none to earn tournament MVP honors.
The win completed a 3-1 weekend for the Bombers, whose lone setback was a 14-8 loss to Northern Westchester in pool play.
The Outlaws came into the final having scored 37 runs in their three games, with a low output of 11.
But they were silenced by DeMelia, a right-hander who needed just 62 pitches to get the shutout.
“They were a good team,” Bombers coach Joe Giancola said. “We’re deep as far as pitching goes and we were able to save him for today. He was unbelievable. He had been struggling a little bit before, but he put it all together today.”
The Bombers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Caden Butterworth led off with a single to center field, stole second and moved to third on an infield hit toward third by Brody Weyandt. Liam King then hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
DeMelia set a tone in the bottom of the first by striking out the first two batters and retiring the third on a ground out.
Madden Demelia, of the TR Bombers was named the 11U Fall Harvest MVP.
The Bombers then made his job easier by scoring four more runs in the second inning.
Manoli Vasilakis led off with a walk, and after a pitching change, Aiden Conover singled to shortstop. Parker DeCarlo followed with a two-run triple to right field, and he scored on a single to center from Colton Lappino.
Lappino took second on an error, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Austin Inferrera’s single to center for a 5-0 lead.
The Bombers added their other three runs in the fourth inning.
DeMelia led off with a walk, and Vasilakis followed with a first-pitch single to center. After a strikeout, DeCarlo was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
A wild pitch with Lappino at the plate scored DeMelia, and Lappino followed with a sacrifice fly to right field to score Vasilakis for a 7-0 lead. Inferrera singled to center to deliver DeCarlo with the game’s final run.
DeMelia was in control the whole way, allowing hits only to Maddox Meladossi leading off the fourth inning and Gus Valentino with one out in the fifth.
“I hadn’t really been on my game, but I was able to put it all together today,” DeMelia said.
Weyandt and Inferrera both finished with two hits for the Bombers, who totaled 10 overall.
“These kids, I told them that yesterday didn’t matter, that it was for seeding,” Giancola said. “It didn’t matter where we were seeded, we just had to come out and play championship baseball today, and they responded.”