Anthony DeNora pitched a five-inning two-hitter and David Varoli steered a 10-hit attack with three hits as the Diamond Jacks Super 14U defeated Powerballers Baseball, 9-1, in the 14U Red Bracket Beat The Heat championship game on Sunday night in Flemington.
DeNora allowed one run, which was unearned, on just two infield hits as his teammates unloaded for nine runs on 10 hits, including a six-run third inning. He struck out five, walked none and hit a batter.
DeNora’s tidy five-inning effort — he threw 76 pitches — was critical considering the Super 14U squad was thin on pitching and had played all four of its games in the tournament with just nine players. A number of Super 14U players were missing due to injury or illness. DeNora knew a clean performance was in order.
“There was a little pressure because I knew I had to get it done with us short guys,” said DeNora. “I was spotting my fastball well on the outside corner.” Denora’s excellent effort and the lively Diamond Jacks bats proved just what the doctor, and coach Walt Cleary, ordered.
Varoli had a triple, two singles, drew a walk, scored three runs and drove in two runs from the No. 3 spot in the Diamond Jacks batting order. He had two singles, scored a run and drove in two runs in the third inning when Super 14U scored six runs and sent 11 batters to the plate.
“I was sitting fastball and adjusting later in the count to breaking balls,” said Varoli. “I hit a breaking ball on my last hit.” Everything Varoli hit in the championship game was hard and often far.
Varoli hit a booming two-out triple to straightaway center field in the bottom of the first and scored on J.R. Rosado’s double to give the Diamond Jacks a 1-0 lead.
Powerballers Baseball tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third inning on a rally triggered by Dayton Aguiar’s one-out infield single. Aguiar stole second with Patrick Bazolo at the plate and scored when Bazolo’s fly ball to right-center field was misplayed. Bazolo tried to score on the misplay and was caught in a rundown between third base and home plate.
The Diamond Jacks answered with a six-run bottom of the third to take a 7-1 lead. It was Varoli who started the rally with a laser of a leadoff single through the middle. Rosado was hit by a pitch and Jayden Capindica dropped down a beauty of a sac bunt to the left side. The bunt was so good Capindica beat it out for a hit to load the bases with no outs.
Will Mahala (2-for-2, walk, run, RBI) followed with an RBI single to right to score Varoli from third and put the Diamond Jacks back in front, 2-1. Joseph’s Barca bouncer in the middle of the diamond was misplayed for another run. Blake Echternacht then hit a bouncer to the left side but the third baseman’s throw home pulled the catcher off the plate and everyone was safe.
Dylan Wayne drew a bases-loaded walk to extend the lead to 5-1. Varoli then stepped in with two outs and unleashed his second hit of the inning, a hard single to left field, to chase home two more runs and boost the lead to 7-1.
DeNora, meanwhile, was on cruise control, retiring Powerballers Baseball in order in the fourth and striking out four batters in the top of the fifth. DeNora struck out the first batter of the fourth then Evan Shak reached on a wild pitch as he swung and missed on strike three. Denora got the next two outs via strikeout around plunking Kurtis Crossman with a pitch.
“Anthony threw strikes,” said Cleary. “It was a very efficient start and our defense played well and with a lot of confidence behind him.” Denora had a big tournament with his bat, as well, and was named the 14U Beat The Heat Most Valuable Player.
“Anthony tore it up at the plate,” said Cleary. “He had a home run in the semifinals and had multiple hits in each of the first three games.”
In position to end the game via the eight-run mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth, the Super 14U cashed in on the opportunity and assured its thin pitching staff the rest of the night off.
Echternacht, who was batting ninth in the final, started the decisive rally with a leadoff single to center field. Wayne hit a grounder that forced Echternacht at second base and DeNora lined out hard to third base for the second out. But Wayne stole second with Varoli at the plate, who, despite his noisy night at the plate, patiently drew a walk. Rosado (1-for-2, HBP, RBI, run), the Diamond Jack’s catcher, also drew a walk to load the bases and move Varoli into scoring position with the potential winning run.
The lefty-hitting Capindica came to the plate and pulled a two-run, walk-off single into right field as Wayne and Varoli raced home to close out the 9-1 victory.
It was an impressive four-game tournament effort for the Diamond Jacks, particularly having to battle with a few players out.
“Being down players, all nine of our guys had to step up and they did,” said Cleary. “That says a lot about their character. They brought a lot of energy the whole tournament.”
NOTES: Chase Kilareski, the Powerballers No. 3 hitter and starting pitcher, beat out an infield single to the left side in the first inning. … Second baseman Echternacht made a nice play near the middle of the diamond in the third to get Kam Kericki on a groundout. … Center fielder Varoli went flat out to catch Carson Bowman’s sinking liner in right-center field for the last out of the third.
…“Dylan (Wayne) had a really nice tournament,” said Cleary. “He had a great approach at the plate. Wayne singled, walked, scored a run and drove in a run in the final. … Matt Diskin pitched a one-hit, five-inning shutout when the Super 14U defeated Morris County Cubs Navy, 8-0, in the team’s second game of the tournament. Diskin struck out 10 batters in the terrific outing.
… The Diamond Jacks Super 14U (4-0) outscored its opponents 40-6. The Lehigh Valley, Pa.-based Powerballers Baseball (4-1) held a 44-27 runs advantage on its opponents. The Powerballers reached the final off an impressive 12-3 victory in the semifinals over Team Beast Apicella.
Beat The Heat recaps
9U – Nor East Clippers
The Nor East Clippers defeated the NJ Renegades, 11-9, in the 9U Beat The Heat championship game. Tristan Boylan of the Clippers was named the 9U Most Valuable Player. The Clippers (2-2) outscored their opponents 27-19. The Renegades (3-1) held a 21-17 runs advantage on their opponents.
10U – Grit 10U Black
Grit 10U Black defeated 3UP3DOWN Baseball, 14-12, in the 10U Beat The Heat championship game. Nick Mandio of Grit 10U Black was named the 10U Most Valuable Player. Grit 10U Black (4-0) outscored its opponents 58-15). 3UP3DOWN Baseball (3-1) held a 41-18 runs advantage on its opponents.
11U – Diamond Jacks Super 11U
The Diamond Jacks Super 11U defeated the Locked In Expos, 10-4, in the 11U Beat The Heat championship game. Jason Baker and Gino Spigarelli of Super 11U were named co-MVPs of the 11U tournament. Super 11U (4-0) outscored its opponents 42-17. Locked in Expos (3-1) held a 35-20 runs advantage on their opponents.
12U – Diamond Jacks Super 12U
The Diamond Jacks Super 12U defeated the Diamond Jacks Gold 12U, 12-6, in the 12U Beat The Heat championship game. Michael Basile of Super 12U was named the 12U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Super 12U (4-0) outscored its opponents 39-18). Gold 12U (2-1-1) held a 35-26 runs advantage on its opponents.
14U Red Bracket – Diamond Jacks Super 14U
The Diamond Jacks Super 14U defeated the Powerballers Baseball, 9-1, in the 14U Red Bracket Beat The Heat championship game. Anthony DeNora of Super 14U was named the 14U Red Bracket’s Most Valuable Player. Super 14U (4-0) outscored its opponents 40-6. The Powerballers Baseball (4-1) held a 44-27 runs advantage on its opponents.
14U White Bracket – PA Shockers 14U
The PA Shockers 14U defeated Colossal Baseball, 2-1, in the 14U White Bracket Beat The Heat championship game. Brayden Kratz of PA Shockers was named the 14U White Bracket Most Valuable Player. PA Shockers (4-1) outscored their opponents 39-21. Colossal Baseball (3-1) held a 34-4 runs advantage on its opponents.
15U – Beat The Heat Super 25 Qualifier
Five undefeated teams in the 15U Beat The Heat qualified for the Super Top 25 Showcase. The qualifiers are the South Jersey Young Guns (3-0, 28-5), Wladyka Baseball Continental (3-0, 21-5), Baseball Warehouse 2024 Purple (3-0, 17-6), Wladyka Baseball National (3-0, 30-10) and the North Jersey Horned Frogs (3-0-1, 10-8).