DJacks 16U Gold chips away, earns tie in Blue Chips finale

By DN WRITING STAFF | August 5, 2023

DJacks 16U relief pitcher Logan Fuller gets ready to fire a pitch in Friday’s tie.

By Will Harrigan

Playing up a year in competition, the Diamond Jacks 16U Gold squad was hoping for a positive result to close out their week at the Blue Chip Prospects event on home ground.

And for a while, it appeared the DJacks were going to go home empty handed, but constantly chipping away allowed them to launch a comeback and earn that positive result they desired.

Ultimately, the Diamond Jacks came back and notched a 6-6 tie against a talented Long Island Titans-Lorusso squad on Friday morning. Down four runs, the locals in yellow and black scored a run each of the final four innings to chip away and earn the draw.

The tie wrapped up the DJacks week after three defeats – including two close ones – to start the week. LI Titans head back to the Island after going 1-2-1 on the week.

“We had one bad inning today, and it nearly cost us another loss,” said DJacks Gold coach Walter Cleary. “But our guys chipped and chipped away against a good team, and we got back in it. It’s a good sign of the direction we’re going in.”

With their third reliever in for the seventh, the Titans offered up four free passes – the latter three with two men out – to allow the DJacks to secure the tie. Ryan Ciesla worked a walk to score Jesse Allen, who led off with a free pass, to level things at 6-6.

Having an opportunity to win it in what was going to be the game’s final at bat no matter what, Michael Brunetti flew out to center field to end things.

Based on how the first inning went, it appeared the Titans were going to come to Flemington and win their second game in as many days against a Diamond Jacks club.

Long Island Titans batter Bobby Candela stands in to hit on Friday against the Diamond Jacks.

Jayden Meirowitz and Bobby Candela each belted doubles to start the game, instantly giving the Titans a 1-0 lead in a minute of elapsed game time.

Following a one-out walk, James Mahoney singled in Candela, but two errors on the same play allowed another run to score, and the DJacks found themselves in a 4-0 hole quickly.

The DJacks would get two back in the bottom half of the inning, and Nolan Fuller’s foul sac fly to right was deep enough to score Chase Koplitz, and C.J. Banos would follow that with an RBI single later in the inning.

A forced in run following a walk by nine-batter Mikey Perez and a wild pitch allowed the Titans to boost their lead to 6-2.

Liam Coyle of Wilson High in Pennsylvania got the Diamond Jacks in it by launching an RBI double to left-center in the third. Another RBI double by John Palermo in the fourth – that one with two men out – quickly trimmed the deficit to 6-4.

Brunetti, who had singled to lead off the fifth and stole third later in the frame, came home to score when Quabeck drove him in on a sacrifice fly, bringing the game to within a run in the later frames.

While it didn’t go the way they’d hoped, playing up in age level and higher levels of competition is how the Cleary’s squad does business.

“We play up for a majority of the summer, and while that sometimes puts us in an uphill battle, it challenges our guys,” said Cleary. “The idea is that this all pays off later.”

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