Mark Gialluisi reaches out for a low outside pitch and pokes into right field for an RBI single in the Diamond Jacks Super 15U team’s opening day victory on Monday.
Truly any kind of baseball is better than no baseball, but winning baseball never hurts either.
While rust is a reality for every team battling through the pandemic to maintain some semblance of a baseball routine, the Diamond Jacks Super 15U squad and Real Ballers National Team, nonetheless, appeared in usual July form on Tuesday at Diamond Nation.
Left-handed starter James Scott limited Real Ballers to three hits over four innings and the Diamond Jacks Super 15U broke open a tight game with six runs in the top of the fifth inning on the way to an 8-0 victory in the season opener for both teams.
“It was just awesome to see kids playing baseball,” said DJack catcher Mark Gialluisi, who singled twice and drove in two runs to support his batterymate. “Not just us, but seeing kids you know playing on other teams was great.”
Gialluisi’s joy for the season opener was also written on the faces of players, coaches, parents and even college scouts in attendance in what was a very different experience than usual at Diamond Nation.
The 8-0 final in this one bore little resemblance to the type of game played by the two teams through the first four innings.
The Diamond Jacks came up with a pair of two-out RBI in the second and third innings to build an early 2-0 lead. Robbie Carvelli followed a one-out walk to Ben Schild in the second with a two-out RBI triple to the left-center field gap. Walks started things again in the third for the Diamond Jacks. This time Marco Masselli drew a leadoff walk and Ryan Jaros worked a bases-on-balls with two outs. Gialluisi then reached for a low and outside pitch and lofted a looper into short right field for an RBI single and a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Real Ballers could reached Scott for just three hits over the first four innings, but all three were doubles. But Scott stranded all three of them with some help from his defense.
Scott picked up three of his six strikeouts in the first inning — he would walk just one — and two of the Ks came after Joey Tonnotti’s one-out double to the left-center field gap. Braydon Hubbard showed just how deep is the Real Ballers’ lineup when the No. 9 hitter lofted a grounds rule double down the left field line with one out in the third. But Gialluisi threw behind Hubbard to pick him off for the second out.
Later that inning, with Jose Morales on second via a walk and a stolen base, Tonnotti was at it again. The center fielder sent a deep shot to straightaway center that his counterpart, Carvelli, chased down and made an over-the-shoulder catch to end the inning and save a run.
“It felt like my curveball was good out of my hand and I was getting a lot of lefties with it,” said Scott. Five of the first six batters in the Real Ballers lineup were lefty hitters. “I was spotting it up on the outside corner pretty well and I had good command of my fastball.”
Real Ballers had another shot with two outs in the fourth when Michael Iannazzo hit a deep shot near the wall in left that bounced over the fence for another grounds rule double. But Scott got Chad Falcon, one of Real Ballers six lefty hitters, looking at a curveball on the outside corner to end the threat.
Real Ballers starter righthander Will Weimer had limited the Diamond Jacks to two hits through four innings while striking out three and walking five. But Weimer ran out of gas in the fifth. Masselli drew a leadoff walk before Nicholas Lorenzo singled with one out. Jaros was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Real Ballers went to the bullpen at that point and the Diamond Jacks didn’t seem to mind.
Gialluisi hit a bouncer just wide of the mound that tipped off the pitcher’s glove for a single and a run. Jake Dally was hit by a pitch to force home Lorenzo and boost the lead to 4-0. Pinch-hitter Jason Cozzi slashed a single through the left side for another run and Justin Christensen, also pinch-hitting, drew a walk that lifted the lead to 6-0. Logan Eilbacher followed with a single into left-center that scored Dally and Cozzi to cap the scoring.
Righthander Noah Baird closed it out for the Diamond Jacks in the bottom of the fifth, striking out two Real Ballers around a pair of walks.
“We were working that low outside fastball and getting the calls, so that worked to our benefit,” said Gialluisi of Scott’s ability to spot the curveball. “James had a good outing.”
Next up for the Super 15U is Marucci Philadelphia in a 9:50 a.m. game Tuesday on Field 1. Real Ballers face Hit And Run Outlaws at 8 a.m. Tuesday at Jack Cust Baseball Academy.