The Diamond Jacks Gold 14U and Super 14U teams looked mid-season sharp in the teams’ second tournament of the early spring.
Both teams reached the Battle At The Turf championship game, but their scheduled 8:30 p.m. championship game on Sunday was canceled due to sub-freezing temperatures combined with a brutal wind chill that made the “feels-like” temp unmentionable.
The Diamond Jacks Gold 14U were dominant in posting a 4-0 tournament record while outscoring its opponents 33-3.
“We threw the ball real well this weekend,” said Gold 14U coach Travis Anderson, “and we didn’t give many bases away on defense.”
Joa Rivera, Chase Schollenberger, Peyton Keller and Artie Conover each stepped up on the mound for the Gold 14U.
“Joa did a great job of attacking the zone,” said Anderson. “An example of that was when we were up big early in our first game, 9-0 in the second inning, and he started the inning by throwing five straight strikes.”
Keller pitched a five-inning shutout when the Gold 14U defeated the NJ Titans, 8-0, in the semifinals.
Conover did something unique during his fine performance on the mound. He picked off two runners in the same inning. “I don’t think I’ve seen that at this level,” said Anderson.
Conover also had an excellent tournament at the plate, including a triple and a double. “JoJo Fava also swung the bat well,” said Anderson.
Anderson also got a chance to play some of his coveted small ball as the Gold 14U pulled off a pair of bunt hits. “You have to show your opponent you are capable of doing that to plant that seed in their mind. I love putting pressure on the other team, trying to create chaos” he said.
The 14U Gold is now 7-1 after a quick start to the spring. Anderson’s boys went 3-1 at the Spring Invitational a week earlier, winning their pool.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Anderson. “This team is going to be a lot of fun this spring.
The Diamond Jacks Super 14U (3-1, 36-9) fought the cold gamely, as well, and what better example of that was the effort by its pitching staff. Well, perhaps Keith Mann swinging the bat like it was a hot July afternoon.
Man had six hits over the four games and drove in eight runs, three of which came in on his home run in the semifinals that turned a 9-3 lead into a 12-3 advantage in the top of the sixth.
“Our guys battled,” said Super 14U coach Mike Buckelew. “We were down three or four guys due to injuries, so other guys had to step up and sometimes play at other positions. But our guys did what they had to do.”
Buckelew said he didn’t want his pitchers to do too much, pitching to contact and throwing strikes. “The staff did well,” he said. “Konnor Wade pitched real well in our second game. He struck out seven batters in three innings. Kellen Komline did a nice job challenging hitters in his outing.”
Danny Contiliano delivered a big effort in a tough spot in the semifinals. He entered with a lead, so that wasn’t necessarily the tough spot. The difficult assignment for Contiliano was pitching efficiently in horribly cold and windy weather. Contilano limited the NJ Renegades 14U to two hits and struck out five over three scoreless innings of relief.
“To throw strikes and get outs in those conditions was awesome by Danny,” said Buckelew.
Saturday’s temperature and winds were as bad as Sunday, so it truly was a weekend of gritting through it for both Diamond Jacks 14U teams, as it was for the rest of teams competing in the Battle At The Turf.
“It’s only been two weeks, so we have more things to work on,” said Buckelew. “That’s what March and April are for. But it’s been a good start for both of our 14U teams. It’s a testament to the work we do during the week.”
The other five Battle At The Turf finals were earlier and they were able to finish those championship games. Here are some details from those games.
ASBA Assassins 15, NHYB 9U Red 9
ASBA Assassins defeated North Hunterdon Youth Baseball 9U Red, 15-9, in the 9U Battle At The Turf championship game. Collin Nunan of the Assassins was named the 9U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. ASBA Assassins (3-1) outscored their opponents 44-27. NHYB 9U Red held a 50-27 runs advantage on its opponents.
JS Elite 8, RCBC Marucci 10U, 7
JS Elite defeated RCBC Marucci 10U, 8-7, in the 10U Battle At The Turf championship game. Miles Mitchell of JS Elite was named the 10U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. JS Elite (4-0) outscored its opponents 46-8. RCBC Marucci 10U (3-1) held a 28-14 runs advantage on its opponents.
SC Combat 11U Red 14, South Jersey Young Guns 0
SC Combat 11U Red defeated the South Jersey Young Guns, 14-0, in the 11U Battle At The Turf championship game. Nolan Carter of SC Combat (4-0) outscored its opponents 46-2. South Jersey Young Guns (4-1) held a 65-41 runs advantage on their opponents.
RCBC Marucci Nationals 17, Massapequa Cyclones 3
RCBC Marucci Nationals defeated Massapequa Cyclones, 17-3, in the 12U Battle At The Turf championship game. Gabe Luca of RCBC was named the 12U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. RCBC Marucci Nationals (5-0) outscored its opponents 59-19. The Cyclones (3-1-1) were outscored 43-40 by their opponents.
Diamond Jacks Super 13U 10, CT Rage 2
The Diamond Jacks Super 13U defeated the Connecticut Rage, 10-2, in the 13U Battle At The Turf championship game. Wyatt Morrissey of the Diamond Jacks was named the 13U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Super 13U (5-0) outscored its opponents 64-19. The Rage (4-1) held a 50-18 runs advantage on their opponents.
Diamond Jacks Gold 14U – Diamond Jacks Super 14U (co-champs)
The Diamond Jacks Gold 14U (4-0, 33-3) and the Diamond Jacks Super 14U (3-1, 3609) each played an outstanding 14U Battle At The Turf tournament and reached the championship game on one of the coldest nights of baseball in several years at Diamond Nation. The championship game was canceled due to the unfriendly conditions.