Diamond BA, West Chester shine through storm

By Bob Behre | July 8, 2020

Diamond Baseball Academy allowed just four runs in the 15U Diamond Nation World Series.

Diamond Baseball Academy and the West Chester Dragons were in the middle of a tight battle when the first thunderstorm of the summer season rolled through the Diamond Nation complex in Flemington Wednesday afternoon.

The thunder, lightning and rain shortened an extremely competitive game and left both Pennsylvania teams wanting more.

King of Prussia-based Diamond Baseball Academy came into the final of its four pool play games — there are no playoff games this week in the 15U Diamond Nation World Series — at 3-0 and on a terrific roll. The Dragons were 1-1 and looking to assert some authority in a tough pool draw.

West Chester was coming off a 5-1 victory a day earlier over Prospects Baseball Academy and knew it had its hands full with Diamond Baseball.

Dragons starter Cole Sutton got himself into a quick pickle in the top of the first by walking the first two batters of the game, Frank DiMaio and Jake Chapman. After inducing a fly out to right field, Sutton walked Tyler Kidwell then Kevin Bukowski to force in the game’s first run.

But give Sutton credit, he settled down and subsequently restored order. He spotted a curveball on the inner half to get a strikeout and induced a grounder to third base that Luis Candelaria gobbled up then stepped on third base for a forceout that ended the threat.

The Dragons came right back in their half of the first inning, manufacturing a run to tie the game at 1-1. Quinn Dowds singled hard to right field with one out and stole second base with Greyson Kovatch at the plate. Kovatch then poked a bleeder inside third base that chased Dowds to third. Kovatch, hustling out of the box, was able to take second on the hit.

Cleanup hitter Josh Howe then delivered Dowds with the tying run on a slow bouncer to shortstop. Like Sutton, Diamond Baseball starter Chuck Oschell got out of further trouble courtesy of a big pitch. Oschell placed his fastball low and on the outside corner to get the No. 5 hitter looking for the third out.

Sutton ran into trouble again with the first two Diamond Baseball batters of the second inning. Kyle Mauro singled to center field and moved to second when Luke DiLisi drew a walk. Mike Christian then dropped a nice bunt down the right side that Sutton scooped up and threw to first as both runners advanced into scoring position.

The West Chester Dragons have looked strong in the 15U Diamond Nation World Series.

But Sutton, again, was up to the challenge, striking out the next two batters to extricate himself from the threat. Oschell took a que from Sutton in the West Chester half of the second. Candelaria was hit by an Oschell pitch with one out and stole second with John Richmond at the plate. West Chester had two shots to get Candelaria home with the go-ahead run. But Oschell struck him out and fanned Nick Gunn to squelch the threat.

Diamond Baseball rallied for the go-ahead run in this shortened game in the top of the third. Chapman drew a one out walk, reached second on a wild pitch and moved to third on an infield error. Sutton was pulled at that point for reliever Nick Cugino, likely at the outer extreme of his early season pitch count.

Cugino, however, did his job and got the next two batters, but Kidwell’s well placed grounder to the right side was enough to get Chapman home for the 2-1 lead.

West Chester was in business in the bottom of the third when its No. 10 hitter Curtis Grunwell drew a leadoff walk. Cugino was then plunked by an Oschell pitch to put runners on first and second with none out. Josh Sherlock was at the plate with an 0-1 count when the umpires stopped the game for lightning.

Thunder and lightning continued and heavy rains ensued before the game was canceled.

Oschell permitted one run on two hits, struck out three, walked one and hit a batter over two-plus innings. Sutton allowed two runs, one of which was earned, on one hit in 2.1 innings of work, striking out three and walking six.

Diamond Baseball Academy had defeated Full Count 15U Prospects, 10-0, NYC Rising Stars, 8-0, and Prospect Baseball Academy, 6-3, to carry a 24-3 runs advantage on its opponents and the No. 4 spot in the overall tournament standings heading into the West Chester game.

West Chester Dragons dropped their opener, 4-0, to Full Count on Monday before rebounding against Prospect Baseball Academy on Tuesday.
The 15U Diamond Nation World Series and the Super 17U World Series conclude on Thursday.

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