There have been precious few challenges the Diamond Jacks Super 14U failed to meet this spring and summer and the Perfect Game Super 25 Northeast Super Qualifier turned out to be just another weekend of winning for this unrelenting team.
The Super 14U squad rolled to the tournament championship with a 5-0 record in the event held at Woodbridge High School last weekend.
Griffin Mills, who hit a walk off home run in a 4-3 victory over Avengers Baseball in the quarterfinals, was named the 14U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Mills has been outstanding all spring and summer on the mound and at the plate. The Super 14U does not always overwhelm opponents, but finds a way in tight games and seems to have a knack for the come-from-behind-variety. In all, the squad had a staggering 36-2 record through the spring and early summer.
The Diamond Jacks cruised to 11-2 and 12-1 victories in their first two games of the tournament, defeating Bullet Club Baseball and Full Count Futures. But the Super 14U had to rally from behind in its next three games and twice used the big inning to do so.
In fact, it fell behind 3-0 in the quarterfinals when Avengers Baseball struck for three runs in the top of the first inning. But righthander Justin Christensen settled in nicely while the bats pecked away. Super 14 scored twice in the third and tied the game with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Mills, batting leadoff, was 2-for-2 with a walk when he stepped to the plate in the seventh and quickly ended the game with a home run.
“We had big hits all tournament and they didn’t come from just specific spots in the order,” said Super 14 coach Walter Cleary. “We got big hits from the top of the order to the bottom.” Tyler Delvecchio went 2-for-3 and scored a run and Robbie Carvelli had a hit and scored a run against Avengers Baseball.
Christensen got the win because he pitched a mostly tidy and efficient complete game while throwing just 66 pitches in the seven-inning outing. Pitching to contact, Christensen did not strike out a single batter, letting his defense shine behind him.
That set up the Super 14U’s semifinal berth opposite Mid-Atlantic Show 14U Select. Through four innings, however, the Diamond Jacks trailed 2-0 before finally pushing across a run in the top of the fifth to shave the lead in half. The game looked destined for a down-to-the-last-out nailbiter until the Super 14U bats came to life in a very big way in the sixth.
The Diamond Jacks would score nine runs in the top of the sixth before Mid-Atlantic Show got an out and the Super 14U would strike for 11 runs in the inning in all to take a 12-2 lead. The game shockingly was ended via the 10-run mercy rule after Mid-Atlantic Show failed to score in the bottom of the sixth. Super 14U would slash 11 hits in the game as Marco Masselli had two hits and three RBI, Luke Stevenson went 2-for-3 with an RBI, Delvecchio had two more hits and drove in a pair of runs and Kolbie Stellpflug had two hits and two RBI. Jake Dally and Mark Giallusi tacked on an RBI apiece.
Coach Cleary wasn’t selling a line, the Super 14U hits were coming fast and furious and from every spot in the batting order. Up next was Adrenaline in the championship game and the formula would remain the same for the Diamond Jacks. The team would stumble out of the gate and answer its opponent’s initial flurry and with round-after-round of relentless fury.
Adrenaline was flowing strong through the first inning and a half as the visitors jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but the Super 14U answered with a mighty eight-run bottom of the second that staked the team to a 9-4 lead, suddenly wresting control the championship game. Eight Diamond Jack batters had at least one hit or scored a run in this one.
Mills went 3-for-4, drove in two runs and scored twice to nail down the MVP award. But he had plenty of help. Carvelli, Gialussi and Maselli each had two RBI as well. And Delvecchio tacked on another RBI.
“Our hitting was obviously very strong,” said Cleary. “Our pitching was good and we played the kind of solid defense that will always win tournaments for you.” The Diamond Jacks outscored their competition in the Northeast Super Qualifier 51-14.
Next stop for the Super 14U is Alabama for another Perfect Game event. The team leaves today (Thursday) to test its skills against teams from a larger geographic area.