Diamond Jack Michael Brunetti hit an inside-the-park HR in the Garden State Invitational.
By Will Harrigan
Playing another local squad in the NJ Jays, the Diamond Jacks 15U Gold had a little extra to play for on Wednesday morning.
Several Hunterdon Central teammates were on each side of the foul lines in this travel circuit contest, and in the end, it was the Diamond Jacks’ depth that proved too much.
Scoring in five straight innings, the DJacks Gold club grinded out a 7-1 victory over the Jays in Garden State Invitational action at Diamond Nation. Playing up an age class, the DJacks are now 1-2 in the tournament, while the Flemington-based Jays fell to 1-2.
“I love getting the chance to play a year up in some tournaments. We want to play good competition and get better as a team,” said DJacks Gold coach Chris Brown. “A lot of guys from each side know each other, and I do think that added a little extra juice to playing this game.”
Clearly ready to play, the Jays bats came out of the shoot ready to hit. Leadoff man Jared Jacobus laced a triple into the left-center field gap on the game’s second pitch.
Two batters later, fellow Hunterdon Central product Tommy Baase – the Jays’ starting pitcher – helped his cause by singling in Jacobus to make it 1-0.
Michael Brunetti single-handedly leveled the score in the top of the second for the DJacks. His dying quail bounced past the outstretched glove of a Jays outfielder, rolling all the way to the wall for an inside-the-park home run.
An inning later, the winners would carry that momentum into the lead, as Nolan Fuller’s RBI single gave the DJacks a 2-1 advantage. Fuller – who went 2-for-4 at the dish – saw his hit score Will Macken, who had walked with one out.
That turned out to be all the run support Justin Silvius needed to keep the DJacks ahead. After his first inning blip, Silvius tossed four innings of one hit ball to keep the Jays off the board. Liam Coyle would then come on in relief and toss two scoreless innings.
“Momentum starts on the mound, and our pitching was great today,” Brown said. “Justin was pounding the zone and Liam came in and pitched great to close it out for us. If they can pitch like that consistently, we’ll win a lot of games.”
Anthony Petino added an RBI single in the third to score Brunetti and extend the edge to 3-1. The DJacks added a pair of insurance runs in the fourth, parlaying an RBI double off the bat of Chase Koplitz to a crooked number, extending the lead to 5-1.
Macken would add an RBI double in the seventh for extra insurance, and he was driven home a batter later by Soren Gregor to round out the game’s scoring ledger.
Baase – who only gave up two earned runs in six innings for the Jays – went 2-for-3 with a double and reached base all three times up in an impressive performance.