Diamond Jacks Super 14’s Kellan Komline sends a pitch the other way in Saturday night’s game.
By Will Harrigan
Finding different ways to win games is one of the major cornerstones of success for the Diamond Jacks baseball organization.
Look no further than what the Diamond Jacks Super 14U squad – playing against opponents a year older than them – have been doing this weekend at the Home Run Classic.
On Friday, the DJacks mashed their way to two victories to take command of Pool F action. With a playoff spot on the line on Saturday night, Mike Buckelew’s squad became opportunistic.
Cashing in on PA Shockers errors in a four-run second inning, the Diamond Jacks were able to walk away with a 6-3 victory to win Pool F and advance to Sunday’s playoffs.
Despite playing older competitors, the Super 14U has outscored its opponents 24-5 at this point.
“Every game does not go the same way, but our focus is always to put the ball in play. It puts pressure on the pitcher and the defense,” said Buckelew. “Having a two-strike approach makes it tougher to strike us out, and if you put the ball in play so much, good things will happen.”
Deadlocked 1-1, Luke Borgmann started the rally for the DJacks with a single. After Matthew Baker was struck by a pitch to put two men on, a force-out off the bat of Cole Raymond turned disastrous for the Shockers.
The second leg of the double play attempt wound up in right field, allowing Borgmann to score and Raymond to reach second.
A wayward throw after a Brandon Lall single plated Raymond, doubling the winners’ lead to 3-1 on the consecutive errors. To make matters worse for the Shockers, a fielding error off the bat of Jake Markovich later in the inning allowed two more runs to come home.
The run support would be enough for DJacks starter Konnor Ware, who only surrendered three hits in five innings of three-hit ball.
Ware ran into a bit of trouble in the fifth, when Zach Pollock of the Shockers – a club based in Quakertown, PA – was struck by a pitch to start the inning, and Mike Mariano promptly singled to put two on.
Zach Oschle then belted a double down the left field line, scoring Pollock and moving Mariano to third. Cole Reich would send a sac fly to center to cut the Shockers deficit to 6-3.
In the bottom of the first, Markovich tripled right off the bat to put the DJacks in business. Two batters later, a fielder’s choice by Alex Famolari brought Markovich home and made it 1-0.
Quickly countering in the second, the Shockers would score their first run after an Ochsle ground out cashed in a leadoff double off Pollock’s bat. Oschle went 2-for-3 and his lone out was a deep fly ball to right field.
The DJacks will look to chase another tournament title on its home field tomorrow.
“It’s a great experience for our guys to play an age level up. There’s a big gap between 14s and 15s,” Buckelew said. “But a lot of these guys want to have a shot at making their varsity team in high school next year and playing this kind of competition helps toward that.”
The Diamond Jacks would land the top seed in the 15U Home Run Classic Red Bracket and were playing their first playoff game at press time.