Eight 17/18Us advance to Columbus Day Showcase

By Bob Behre | September 14, 2020

Chris Markovich homered and hit a sac fly (here) in Super 17 2021’s 7-1 victory over Wladyka Baseball.

Eight teams from a field of 60 in the 17/18U Wood Bat Championships advanced to the Columbus Day Showcase with 3-0 records this past weekend at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

The 17/18U Wood Bat Championship and the Super 17 Fall Invitational on the Sept. 25-27 weekend serve as qualifiers for the one-day Columbus Day Showcase on Oct. 12.

MA Show stands at the top of the 17/18U Wood Bat standings with a 3-0 record, having outscored its opponents 14-0. The other 3-0 clubs follow in order of their runs-allowed. They are; Prospect Baseball Academy (18-2), Baseball U. Jersey 17U (16-2), NJ Rising Rebels 2021 Red (26-3), Diamond Jacks Super 17 2022 (16-4), MVP Beast 2021 National (16-4), Locked In Baseball Expos 18U (18-6) and Baseball U. Pa. 18U Anthracite (21-7).

The 16 teams will vie on Oct. 12 in a 16-team single elimination playoff format for the Columbus Day Showcase championship.

Diamond Jacks Super 17U 2021 7, Wladyka Baseball 1, 1

The deep and talented 17/18U Wood Bat field put on an excellent show of its own over the weekend and will send a highly representative group on to the Columbus Day Showcase. Diamond Nation.com took in a highly competitive game on Sunday night pitting Wladyka Baseball 1 against the Diamond Jacks Super 17 2021 squad.

While neither team landed among the top eight qualifiers, the level of play put forth by the two squads showed just how difficult a chore it was to survive the weekend at 3-0.

Coastal Carolina-bound righthander Matt Potok provided the heavy lifting on the mound for the Diamond Jacks as he shut out Wladyka Baseball 1 on four hits over four innings, striking out six and walking one. Teammate Chris Markovich chipped in offensively with a solo home run and a sac fly as Super 17 2021 cruised to 7-1 victory.

Alex Duffey scores on sac fly by Chris Markovich in fifth inning. Wladyka catcher Jimmy Brennan looks on.

The Diamond Jacks struck for four runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 6-0 lead as Potok, a senior at Jackson Memorial High School, was working on a 2-hitter. But the 6-4, 2225-pounder got into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the fourth.

Kevin Murray, Wladyka’s cleanup hitter, led off and hit a bouncer off the first base bag for an infield single. Tyler Stern, a 6-1, 170 catcher, followed with a single to left before Potok issued a walk to Nick Giannattasio that loaded the bases with no outs.

“I was falling off my back leg,” said Potok. “I had to stay on top of it.”

Potok regained his mechanics quickly enough to strike out the next three batters in order to get himself out of the jam. He got the first batter looking at a slider on the outer half then reared back and fired strike-three fastballs to the next two batters.

“I had to get a little serious at that point,” said Potok, who was on a four-inning limit. Potok’s fastball was his main weapon over the first three innings as he allowed three baserunners. Jimmy Brennan lined an infield single off Potok’s right hip with two outs in the first inning. Chris Giacalone stroked an opposite field double down the left field line in the second. Giacalone’s double came with two outs but Potok struck out the next batter on a heater to escape further trouble.

Tyler Stern is about to get an infield hit and drive in a run for Wladyka Baseball.

Brett Tomback reached on an infield error in the third but Potok got a ground ball and a pop out to get through another inning clean.

Meanwhile Potok’s teammates did their part to set the pitcher up for success. Markovich would start it with one out in the second. Looking for a fastball he could extend his arms on, Markovich, instead, got something even better.

“He came at me with off-speed stuff early, so I was looking for a fastball away,” said Markovich, a senior at Immaculata High School. “He made a mistake and gave me a fastball up an in and I barreled it up.”

Markovich, who hit four home runs this summer, launched one to left field that got out in a hurry and slammed off the sidewalk of the concourse well beyond the fence.

Kyle Adorno followed Markovich’s home run with a double to left-center field that enabled the Diamond Jacks to stitch together a second run in the inning. Adorno actually showed off his speed by taking second on the hit despite Stern, the Wladyka left fielder, cutting the ball off before it got too far into the gap. Adorno then stole third base and scored on Abel Saft’s sac fly to right field.

Super 17U 2021 scored four runs in the third after two were out courtesy of five Wladyka issued walks and a big two-run single by Matt Miceli. Adorno (2-for-3, 2 runs) scored on the back end of a double steal and Jack Nugent raced in from third on a wild pitch. Miceli, the Diamond Jacks’ leadoff batter, chased Saft and Luke Crawford home with his single to left field.

Alex Duffey, the No. 3 hitter, started the fifth inning for Super 17 in loud fashion when he rocked a double off the left field fence. Duffey moved to third on Ben Romano’s fly ball to right and scored on Markovich’s sac fly to center.

Ben Romano of Super 17 2021 moves a runner over on this long fly ball to right field.

Wladyka was able to avoid the shutout in its last at bat in the bottom of the fifth.

Tomback drew a leadoff walk against reliever Saft, who promptly got the next two batters out on a strikeout and a fly ball to left field. But Saft walked Murray before Stern hit a chopper down the third base line. Markovich, who was typically terrific at third base all game, tried to make the nearly impossible possible and his throw got away. Tomback raced home from second but Stern was thrown out trying to advance to second on the overthrow and that ended the game.

Markovich had entered the game in a slump.

“I was struggling a bit and got in the cages before the game,” said Markovich. “I feel that’s the best fuel. It’s the best feeling when you get it done after you’ve worked hard for something.”

NOTES: While the Diamond Jacks managed five hits in their five turns at the plate, they drew 10 walks. Seven of those walks were drawn by the last four batters in the team’s order, Nugent, Saft, Crawford and Matt Kalinak. Kalinak was also hit by a pitch. … Stern went 2-for-3 for Wladyka. … Miceli did his job in the leadoff spot, drawing a walk and singling in his three trips to the plate.

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