By Sean Reilly
The Diamond Jacks Super 14U wanted to send a message, not only to their opponents, but also to themselves, over the weekend at the 14U Slugfest at Diamond Nation.
The Diamond Jacks Super 14U came up short in their first tournament of the fall season, which took place on the road. But in their first autumn event on their home turf in Flemington, the team produced a championship. The Diamond Jacks Super 14U beat Full Count Baseball, 11-1, on Sunday night in four innings to complete a four-game run to the title.
“We fought through a little bit, but then we got going and mercied a couple of teams,” said Diamond Jacks catcher Sandro Salomone, who was named a tournament co-MVP along with teammate Neo Diaz. “We started to work together and brought the energy up. And when the energy went up, everything came together and we started to put the hurt on teams.”
The Diamond Jacks Super 14U went 4-0 over the weekend, outscoring their opponents, 43-5.
While they won their four-team pool in the eight-team event easily, Full Count Baseball finished in a three-way tie in the opposite pool along with Locked In Expos and Diamond Jacks Gold 14U. They had to wait while those teams played earlier on Sunday evening, and ultimately got the championship slot on a tiebreaker.
Full Count Baseball took a 1-0 lead in the top of first. Leo Nardi led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a one-out single by Kevin Kelly, who ended 2-for-2.
After that, the game belonged to the Diamond Jacks.
Justin Labrador drew a one-out walk in the bottom of first. He advanced to third on a two-out single by Nick Do, and scored on a wild pitch.
The bottom of the second began with walks to Connor Bresler and Michael Meyers. They both advanced on a wild pitch. When Luke Palermo came to the plate, Bresler scored on a wild pitch and Meyers came home when Palermo grounded out to shortstop.
The Diamond Jacks then broke things open with an eight-run third inning.
Do (2-for-2) hit a two-run single for a 5-1 lead, Diaz reached on an error to score another and Salomone ripped a two-run double to left center for an 8-1 advantage.
Meyers added a RBI double for a 9-1 lead, still with nobody out. The next two batters were retired on a pop up to pitcher and foul out to the catcher, sending Tommy Denvir up with two out and two on in an important at-bat for mercy rule purposes. Denvir hit a two-run single to left center for an 11-1 lead, meaning the game would end if Full Count Baseball could be held scoreless in the top of the fourth. Full Count had runners on first and second with two out, but Do struck out the next batter to end the game.
“Every tournament, we have to get going a little bit,” Salomone said. “Fortunately for us, that clicked pretty early. We were getting into the games. Defense was good, offense was better, and that always works. We had a Perfect Game tournament before this and lost before the semis. It was good to rebound, come back here and protect our home field and get some hardware. Once we got into our rhythm, we didn’t let go. Now we need to keep going. If we have one bad inning, it could really hurt us. So to be able to come back right after the first inning, that really helped.”