Kevin Kelly hit a two-run triple for the Diamond Jacks Super 14U squad to fuel a nine-run second.
By Rich Bevensee
Tommy Denvir knew what was coming after walking two of the first three batters he faced.
Diamond Jacks Super 14U coach Travis Anderson is an imposing presence, and he wasn’t exactly taking a casual stroll out to the mound to pat Denvir on the butt and say, calm down, it’s going to be okay. And Denvir knew it.
“When I see him walking out, I’m like, Ugh,” Denvir said. “He said, ‘I’m not going through this anymore. I’m not gonna stay here and watch you throw balls. You gotta pound the zone and let the people in the field make the plays.’ That just pushed me to do it. I needed someone to tell me you gotta’ fill up the zone, and I kept that mindset the entire game.”
Denvir made the necessary corrections and pitched exceptionally well for four innings, allowing just two hits the rest of the way. The Diamond Jacks supported his effort by posting a nine-run second inning and earned an 11-0 victory over Tucci Lumber in 14U pool play of the Father’s Day Classic at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
The Diamond Jacks (2-0), who also beat the Morris County Cubs White, 12-1, earlier on Saturday, can sew up a playoff berth on Sunday with a win against Wladyka National at 2:15 p.m.
Kevin Kelly and Michael Meyers both tripled in the second inning for the Diamond Jacks, who sent 15 batters to the plate and scored nine runs on seven hits, one hit batsman and two errors.
Leadoff man Nick Do, the eighth batter of the inning, used his exceptional speed to turn a laser into the left-center gap into a two-run, inside-the-park home run. It was Do’s second inside-the-park homer of the season.
“I had a great swing and I felt really good about it,” Do said. “I know when I piece the ball well and I see the outfielder going back, I have a chance with my speed, because being fast creates so many opportunities. I see the outfielder going back, and on turf I know it’s going to the wall, and I’m fast enough to know I can beat the ball back (to the infield).”
Also in the second inning, Kelly’s triple was a two-run shot to right, Connor Bresler followed with an RBI single, Meyers’ triple was a run-scoring shot to left center, and Ryan Wetmore plated a run with a fielder’s choice groundout.
The Diamond Jacks added two more runs in the third when pinch-hitter Elijah Dawes stroked a two-run double to center.
Anderson said even though Denvir straightened himself out and the offense was pounding the ball, there are still plenty of things to talk about when the game is over.
“At this age, you can always find something,” Anderson said. “You start talking about the finer points – taking leads, taking extra bases if you can, gotta’ throw strikes, hit the cutoff man. That’s what gets lost, the little things.”
Denvir, making his 10th start of the season, said his pre-game plan wasn’t working when the began the game, and Anderson wasn’t willing to allow him to use an entire inning to figure it out.
“I was trying to hit the corners and get outside strikes but I wasn’t really locating that well,” Denvir said. “I try not to get too frustrated. I try to keep it inside myself and I try not to show it to others.”
“After the first few batters, I went out there and got on him a little bit,” Anderson said. “He knows when I go out there I’m not messing around. I told him you can give up hits but you can’t give up hits and walks. Make them earn everything they get. You just can’t beat yourself in a situation like that. You gotta keep the pressure on them. And he’s the type of kid who we need contact from. And we need fast outs, or something to happen fast. He did a really nice job after the first few batters. He threw the ball really, really well.”
In that first inning, with one out and Tucci runners on first and second, Denvir induced Wells Mara to hit into an inning-ending double play. Diamond Jacks third baseman Jacob Lilienthal fielded Mara’s smash down the line, stepped on third and fired a strike to first to double up Mara.
From there, Denvir allowed only a double to Owen Pesaturo in the second inning and a single to Luke Herford in the fourth. Denvir also struck out two in his four innings of work.
“I thought, this is my one opportunity of the weekend to pitch so I have to stay through the middle of the plate and fill up the zone,” Denvir said. “I started feeling confident and started throwing off-speed because I can locate those well and make the hitters off-balance. Once I started filling up the zone things went a lot better.”
Tucci Lumber, of Norwalk, Connecticut, fell to 0-2 with the loss, having bowed to Wladyka National, 4-2, earlier Saturday. Tucci will face Morris County Cubs White on Sunday at 2:15 p.m.