Justin Labrador, left, and Tommy Denvir had big games for the Diamond Jacks Super 13U.
By Rich Bevensee
If there is a 13-and-under baseball team with the talent and cohesion to match all challengers, the Diamond Jacks Super 13s haven’t played them yet.
The Super 13U, which concluded its doubleheader on Saturday having allowed one run in a pair of mercy-rule contests, wrapped up business when Tommy Denvir tossed a three-hit shutout at the Complete Game Colonials in a four-inning, 10-0 victory in Williams Harley Davidson Tournament pool play at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
Denvir struck out four and walked two for the Super 13s, who improved to 22-0 this spring.
“It’s been a culmination of everyone playing their best, just good team wins,” said Super 13U coach Matt Markowitz, whose team opened pool play with an 11-1 defeat of Full Count Baseball. “Pitching, hitting, defense – it’s all been there for us. Last week we played in a national qualifier in Staten Island and we played teams national and regionally ranked, and we did a great job of coming out on top. We’ve got a tough group.”
One of those tough hombres is shortstop Justin Labrador.
“Our connection is really good,” said Labrador, who rapped a bases-clearing double in the Super 13U’s eight-run second inning. “We work so well together. We don’t get down, we stay up and battle back when we have to. We just play hard out there.”
Markowitz credited Denvir with building on his solid start this spring. Denvir allowed five baserunners – none reached third – and worked to a full count just three times while frustrating the Colonials with a mix of fastballs, curves and changeups.
“I threw a lot of changeups today. I mostly throw curves but I’ve been off lately,” Denvir said. “I usually throw the change in 1-2 counts or to start off. I played well last weekend so I was coming in here confident. I think confidence is the biggest thing for me so far. When I pitched my first game I did well and that brought me up.”
“If nothing else, Tommy is gutsy,” Markowitz said. “Every time he goes out there he competes and throws strikes, and that’s all you can ask for. Today he was phenomenal. Every time he goes out there I know what I’m going to get – he fills up the zone and gives us a chance to win.”
The only sort of danger Denvir faced came in the top of the second inning when Aeden Myl and Derek Consiglio reached with back-to-back, two-out singles. Denvir struck out the next Colonial swinging to end the threat.
The Super 13Us handed Denvir all the support he needed in the bottom of the second inning, a six-hit salvo which began with Michael Meyers’ solo home run. Meyers’ hit shot through the hole at short and skipped all the way to the left field fence.
After Jackson Staples reached on a hit-by-pitch and Nick Holot singled, Sandro Salomone hit a towering fly ball to right which resulted in a two-run triple. Luke Palermo singled up the middle to score Salomone.
Joey Spalliero reached on another hit-by-pitch, Tyler Corales walked to load the bases, and Labrador knocked everyone in by stroking a 3-1 pitch to the fence in left center for a three-run double.
“His approach up there is he wants to dig in and drive baseballs. It’s that simple,” Markowitz said of Labrador.
“I’m focusing on driving the ball up the middle and into the right-center gap,” Labrador said. “I’ve been in a groove so it’s working for me so far.”
Wyatt concluded the Super 13U’s business in the second with an RBI double.
The Super 13Us tacked on another run in the third when Nick Holot reached on a throwing error, took second on a balk, and swiped third and home on passed balls.
The game ended via the 10-run mercy rule in the fourth when Spalliero and Corales singled and Labrador lofted a fly ball to left which was mishandled, allowing Spalliero to score the 10th and final run.
The Super 13s will conclude pool play Sunday with a 12:15 p.m. game against Rawlings Prospects-Granzow of Maryland. The Colonials lost their earlier Saturday game to the Rawlings Prospects 9-1, and will finish pool play with a 12:15 p.m. game Sunday against Full Count.
The winner of each of four pools reaches the semifinals (4:30 p.m. on Sunday) and the 13U final is slated for 6:30 p.m.