Connor Dreyer was excellent in relief then capped his fall season with a home run as the Diamond Jacks Super 16U defeated Wladyka Baseball, 14-4, in the 16U Fall Harvest Gold Bracket championship game on Sunday.
Dreyer’s winning effort in relief finished off an outstanding tournament for the Diamond Jacks pitchers, who were named the 16U Gold Bracket’s Most Valuable Player as a unit. The Super 16U’s arms limited the team’s four opponents to a total of six runs in the tournament.
Sunday night’s conditions were not ideal for pitchers as a steady misty rain fell on the Diamond Nation facility in Flemington and the two finalist combined for an ugly 17 walks, nine by Wladyka Baseball.
It was Dreyer, who brought some order to the game despite a little bit of a struggle of his own directly out of the bullpen in the first inning. He pitched three scoreless innings on one hit while striking out six and walking five.
Dreyer entered after the Diamond Jacks starter walked the first four batters in the top of the first inning, forcing home the game’s first run on a free pass to Greg Shaw. Then with, Dreyer on the mound, Adam Juchnik drew a bases-loaded walk, Walter Schwartz singled in a run with one out and Dan Espinal drew a walk to give Wladyka a quick 4-0 lead.
Center fielder Jayden Hylton, however, stopped the bleeding from there when he hauled in Brian Lovaglio’s fly ball for the second out and fired home to catcher Michael Boyer, who tagged out Juchnik for the third out. The Diamond Jacks would then wrest momentum right back with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first.
Hylton started the rally with a one-out single through the left side and quickly stole second. Chris Maldonado walked before he and Hylton pulled off a double steal to get both into scoring position. The Diamond Jacks would steal five bases in the inning. Nick Bergamotto then singled to left field to score Hylton. Nick Ferri’s fielder’s choice bouncer to the right side scored Maldonado. Lorenzo Meola beat out an infield single with two outs before Bergamotto scored on a passed ball. Meola eventually scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 4-4.
It was all Diamond Jacks from there as Dreyer clamped down on the Wladyka batters and the Super 16U batters went to work.
Dreyer struck out the side in order in the second as two of the Wladyka batters looked at strike three curveballs. “I started throwing the fastball then I came in with the curveball and that was working well,” said Dreyer. “And Boyer did a nice job blocking the curveballs.”
Dreyer kicked off a four-run bottom of the second for the Diamond Jacks by drawing a walk. A couple of throwing errors loaded the bases for Bergamotto, who drew a walk. That gave the Diamond Jacks their first lead at 5-4. Ferri followed with another walk and Meola’s sac fly lifted the lead to 7-4. Boyer produced the final run of the inning on a pop fly single into shallow center field.
Dreyer picked up two more strikeouts in the third but loaded the bases with walks to Joe Agar, Shaw and Chris Lamond. But the Diamond Jacks got out of it when Maldonado snared a bouncer in the middle of the Diamond and just beat Lamond to the second base bag for the force-out.
“Connor is a tough player,” said Diamond Jacks Super 16U coach Travis Anderson. “He comes in with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. He controls the whole game. He threw a good curveball tonight. He eats, sleeps and breathes baseball.”
The Super 16U then put the game away with a six-run bottom of the third as Dreyer started the rally in dramatic fashion. The leadoff man hit a high and deep shot down the left field line into the dark sky and mist. The ball seemed to somehow curve back inside the foul pole for a solo home run. It was the first home run of the fall for Dreyer who hit five home runs during the summer season.
“The ball just seemed to come back fair,” said Dreyer. “I was like, wow.”
Maldonado and Ferri would single home a run apiece, Bergamotto scored on a misplayed ball in the outfield and Meola scored when Wladyka turned a double play.
The Diamond Jacks (4-0) outscored their tournament opponents 43-6. Wladyka Baseball (4-1) held a 42-23 rund advantage on its opponents.
Fall Harvest recaps
NJ Renegades 0, Mid Atlantic Show 0
The NJ Renegades and Mid Atlantic Show played to a 0-0 tie to share the 12U Fall Harvest championship. The Renegades (4-0-1) outscored their tournament opponents 80-14. Mid Atlantic Show (4-0-1) held a 46-16 runs advantage on its opponents.
Stars Baseball 22, Locked In Expos 1
Stars Baseball defeated the Locked In Expos, 22-1, in the 14U Fall Harvest championship game. Jackson Sirois of Stars Baseball was named the 14U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Stars Baseball (4-0) outscored its opponents 46-4. The Expos (4-1) held a 42-26 runs advantage on its opponents.
16U Silver Bracket
Sportika Gallagher 16U Elite 11, Stars Baseball 16U Red 5
Sportika Gallagher 16U Elite defeated Stars Baseball 16U Red, 11-5, in the 16U Silver Bracket Fall Harvest championship game. Sportika Gallagher (4-0-1) outscored its opponents 30-17. Stars Baseball 16U Red (3-1-1) held a 30-24 runs advantage on its opponents.