The Diamond Jacks Super 15U squad played to its Fall Invitational tournament form in the championship game when it used the same stingy pitching and defense and a steady drumbeat of base hits on the way to an 8-0 victory over Stars Baseball 15U Red.
Righthander Kolbie Stellpflug pitched a six-hit shutout, striking out three and walking three as his teammates rattled off 12 hits in their six at bats to keep the talented Stars Baseball team on its heels. Austin Nace, the team’s good buddy and good luck charm, was named the 15U Fall Invitational Most Valuable Player.
“Our hits were loud,” said Super 15U coach Walter Cleary. “And we strung together some deep at bats.”
Mark Gialliusi had the first of those loud hits when he delivered the Diamond Jacks first run in the first inning on a two-out grounds rule double to right-center field. The shot in the gap scored Griffin Mills from second base. Mills drew a walk leading off the bottom of the first, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Stars Baseball starting pitcher Michael Lewis then struck out the next two batters before Gialliusi latched onto a fastball and drove it the other way.
“Mark has hit the cover off the ball,” said Cleary. “So have Jaros and Maselli. We’ve been swinging it real well all fall.”
Stellpflug retired the Stars in order in the first inning but would battle with runners in scoring position in four of the next five innings. He never seemed affected by the jams, though, and his defense picked him up with a pair of double plays. Left fielder Justin Christensen helped, too, gunning down a Stars Baseball runner at the plate for the third out of the top of the sixth inning.
“Kolbie had to pitch out of some trouble and our defense played real well,” said Cleary. “Christensen threw that guy out at the plate and the double plays helped a lot.”
Stellpflug didn’t blink when Brett Renfrow drew a walk leading off the second inning for Stars Baseball and Matt Westley followed with a single to center field. It helped that first baseman Ben Schild made a nice stop to start a 3-unassisted-6 double play before shortstop Griffin Mills gobbled up another grounder to end the threat.
“I just wanted to get them to hit the ball on the ground and give my fielders a chance to keep us in the game,” said Stellpflug, a freshman at Somerville. “I was pounding the zone with fastballs and keeping them off balance with the changeup.”
Carson Cho singled to right field with one out in the fourth and Renfrow hit a knock to left field with two outs for Stars Baseball. But the Diamond Jacks dodged a bullet when right fielder Marco Maselli snared Westley’s hard lined drive to end the inning.
The Diamond Jacks (4-0) used some aggressive base running to tack on a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth and extend their lead to 3-0. Ryan Jaros, the Super 15U’s No. 3 hitter, easily beat out a grounder in the shortstop hole leading off the inning. Gialliusi then singled hard to left be being forced at second base by Maselli’s grounder to the right side.
That’s when the Super 15U put a play on, having Maselli charge to second base while Jaros broke from third on the back end of the double steal. Both runners were safe and Maselli took third when the throw back to the plate got away. Lewis would uncorked a wild pitch with Jake Dally at the plate, allowing Maselli to score from third for a 3-0 lead.
“Our base running was phenomenal,” said Cleary. “We ran the bases to so well this tournament. That’s been a big improvement for us.”
Stars Baseball (4-1) would actually load the bases in the fifth with just one out. Lewis singled through the right side before Sean McCloy walked and Ryan Marohn singled to right with one out. But the next batter hit a bouncer toward the middle of the diamond and Mills fielded it, stepped on second and fired to first for an inning-ending double play. Schild made an outstanding pick out of the dirt at first base to ensure the third out.
The Diamond Jacks lifted the lead to 4-0 in the sixth on Logan Eibacher’s one-out single into left-center field. Nick Lorenzo, the No. 8 hitter, triggered that rally with a leadoff single to center field. Jimmy Mulvaney followed with a single to left and Lorenzo then charged home from second on Eibacher’s clutch hit.
Cho drew a one-out walk in the top of the sixth for Stars Baseball and reached second on a fielder’s choice grounder. He raced around third on Renfrow’s single to left as Christensen’s throw home was off line. But catcher Gialliusi ranged to his right to catch the ball and dove back to his left to apply the tag on Cho before he touched the plate.
Stars Baseball went to its bullpen in the last of the sixth but the Diamond Jacks would put the game away with a four-run rally that secured the victory via the 8-run mercy rule.
Christensen came up with the bases loaded and one out and singled home two runs. Lorenzo followed with an RBI double to boost the lead to 7-0. Then Mulvaney put the game away when he hit a hard shot over third base to score Christensen with the decisive run. The rally began with a Giallius walk, Maselli’s single and a walk to Dally.
Cleary has coached this group since they were 12 years-old and has watched them develop into an efficient unit on the mound and defensively while forming a highly potent attack at the plate. This Diamond Jack team is 63-5 since the spring when they were still playing as 14U Diamond Jacks. They outscored their Fall Invitational opponents this weekend 39-2.
Virginia-based Stars Baseball, steered by head coach Glen Caroline, turned a pair of double plays of their own and held a 24-13 runs advantage on their opponents.
Fall Invitational recaps
Bucks County Generals Black, 20, Central Jersey Young Guns Elite 19
The Bucks County Generals Black outlasted the Central Jersey Young Guns Elite, 20-19, in the 10U Fall Invitational championship game. Oliver Olson of the Generals was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.. Buck County (3-1) outscored its opponents 45-36. The Central Jersey Young Guns (2-2) held a 55-44 runs advantage on its opponents.
Tri-State Arsenal National 5, Diamond Jacks Super 11U 2
Tri-State Arsenal National defeated the Diamond Jacks Super 11U squad, 5-2, in the 11U Fall Invitational championship game. Gianluca Gallina of Tri-State Arsenal was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Tri-State Arsenal (4-0) outscored its opponents 36-15. The Diamond Jacks (3-1) held a 27-15 runs advantage on its opponents.
Diamond Jacks Super 13U 8, Elite Squad NY 2
The Diamond Jacks Super 13U defeated Elite Squad NY, 8-2, in the 13U Fall Invitational championship game. J.R. Rosado of the Super 13U team was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Diamond Jacks Super 13U (3-1) outscored its opponents 32-9. Elite Squad NY (3-1) held a 35-11 runs advantage on its opponents.
Rising Stars Baseball 14, Diamond Jacks Super 14U 2
Rising Stars Baseball defeated the Diamond Jacks Super 14U, 14-2, in the 14U Fall Invitational championship game. Noah Brandt of Rising Stars Baseball was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Rising Stars Baseball (4-0) outscored its opponents 52-6. The Diamond Jacks Super 14U (3-1) held a 28-18 runs advantage on its opponents.
Stars Baseball 16U Blue 6, Diamond Jacks Super 16U 1
Stars Baseball 16U Blue defeated the Diamond Jacks Super 16U, 6-1, in the 16U Fall Invitational championship game. Carson Mayfield of Stars Baseball was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Stars Baseball 16U Blue (5-0) outscored its opponents 40-10. The Diamond Jacks Super 16U (4-1) held a 37-12 runs advantage on its opponents.