By Sean Reilly
They may come from different areas, but no introductions were needed when the HV Bulldogs 15U met Northeast Pride in the championship of the Diamond Nation 15U Labor Day Blast on Monday night in Flemington.
The teams have a history of crossing paths, including two recent meetings at ‘The Nation.’
The Northeast Pride, out of Eastern Pennsylvania, beat the Hudson Valley, N.Y., based HV Bulldogs in the final of the 14U Summer Finale on Aug. 20 in Flemington.
The HV Bulldogs turned the tables with a pool play win over Pride on Saturday.
That made the title tilt a rubber match, and for the HV Bulldogs, an extra important game, since it was also their final one before taking off the rest of the fall and winter.
Behind a one-hitter from Chris Lupo, the HV Bulldogs closed out their year with an 8-0, five-inning victory. Lupo finished with four strikeouts and two walks. Eight of his other outs were recorded on ground balls.
Mason Franklin, who was the winning pitcher in the 4-2 pool play win over the Pride, and was 1-for-1 with two walks as the third baseman in the final, was selected the tournament’s MVP.
“This was a great way to end it,” said Franklin, who had a five-hitter with 13 strikeouts and hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the Saturday win. “It was a great season. Playing with these guys is very enjoyable.”
The HV Bulldogs loaded the bases but could not score in the bottom of the first. They also had the bases full with two out in the second, but this time capitalized.
Mason Franklin of the HV Bulldogs was named 16U Labor Day Blast MVP.
Chris Trumpler, who singled, and Ryan Landisi and Lucas Perillo were on board (both on walks) when Rich Roohan stepped to the plate. Trumpler scored the first run scored on a wild pitch, and with the other runners now on second and third, Roohan (2-for-3) worked the count full before hitting a two-run single to center field.
Roohan took second on a throw to the plate, and he scored on two wild pitches with Franklin at bat.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 6-0 by scoring twice against three different pitchers in the third inning. Lupo, who finished 2-for-3, hit a single that was the only hit of the inning. Liam Correa scored on a first-and-third double steal, and Eli Netboy walked with the bases loaded.
The final two runs scored in the fourth inning. Correa (2-for-3) hit an RBI single to right field with two out, and Lupo followed with a run-scoring hit, also to right.
A 1-2-3 top of the fifth, which included two called strikeouts, ended the game.
Dom Rynard had the only hit for Northeast Pride, a one-out single to left field in the first inning.
The Bulldogs closed out the weekend with a 5-0-1 record and 39-16 run difference.
“We played them twice last year, and one won and lost one,” Franklin said. “Two weekends ago we lost the championship to them, so this was like a get-back game. It was the perfect ending to the season.”