Tri-State Arsenal catcher Dom Leonardis tags out Franklin Warriors runner attempting to score.
By Sean Reilly
The Franklin Warriors 12U team doesn’t play in many spring tournaments. But when they do, the Somerset County team makes the most of it, particularly at Diamond Nation.
The Warriors players are mostly involved in rec league action at this stage of the season. But Franklin does enter some tournaments before the end of the school year, including the Easter Extravaganza 12U event in Flemington.
Franklin opened play in the event by defeating the Tri-State Arsenal 11U Select, 13-5, on Friday afternoon, and immediately followed with a 17-11 win over PS2 Athletics to go 2-0 in the first day of action. Franklin will play Monmouth Liberty (1-1) in its final pool play game on Saturday. The Warriors are tied for first place in the six-team field with RCBC Marucci Nationals of Staten Island. The top two teams after the three pool games will play for the championship later on Saturday.
“We have a pretty well-balanced team,” Franklin coach Steve Dipollina said. “We have our rec league which takes up a lot of our time right now. We played in a tournament here and finished second to the Diamond Jacks. Other than that we’re 5-0. The kids all play rec, so we don’t play in many tournaments. We’re playing here this weekend because there’s no rec, and then we’ve got a Memorial Day tournament after this. That’s it for this team, and then once summer goes, they’ll be all out. This is a big tournament for us.”
Franklin got off to a great start against the Arsenal. The first four batters reached, and all also scored as part of a six-run top of the first inning. Michael Sudia and Nico Tejeda each singled in a run and Rosario Dipollina had a RBI ground out as part of the inning.
The Warriors extended the lead to 8-0 in the second inning, as Mason Bonds singled across a run and Sudia supplied a run-scoring ground out.
Franklin made it 9-0 when cleanup hitter Alex Franco crushed a home run where the ball was still climbing when it hit the light pole in left-center field.
Tri-State Arsenal got a run back in the bottom of the third when Derek Thomas led off with a double and then scored when Dom Leonardis followed with a double.
Franklin countered with a lead off home run from Tejeda to right field for a 10-1 lead in the fourth.
The Arsenal scored in the bottom of the fourth on a triple by Jackson Koch, but Warriors pitcher Dipollina prevented a bigger inning by picking off two base runners during the frame, one at first base and the other at third.
The Arsenal crept closer in the fifth, when J.P. Santos tripled in a run with nobody out and then scored on a ground out from Thomas to close within 10-4.
Franklin answered back in the sixth, with J.P. Boyke legging out a ground ball to score a run with two out, and an error resulting in two runs for 13-4 advantage.
Leadoff batter Jayden Acosta reached base in all four of his at-bats and scored twice for the Warriors. Teheda and Boyke finished with two hits apiece.
Caden Miller, Jack Byers and Steven Foster had two hits each for the Arsenal, which lost a narrow 2-1 decision to RCBC Marucci Nationals in its second game.