Fudala throws six strong innings to lead Colossal 13U

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 14, 2023

Aaron Cappozzoli had an RBI triple to fuel Colossal’s three-run second inning.

By Rich Bevensee

If the Colossal Baseball coaching staff was waiting for one of its players to step forward as a leader, it only took three weeks for the search to be called off.

Eric Fudala declared himself worthy of the role after delivering an early-spring statement on the mound. He came within two outs of a shutout and carried the Colossal Baseball 2028 13U squad to a 5-2 pool play victory over New England Scorpions 13U Sweeney in the Mother’s Day Classic.

It was Colossal Baseball 13U’s Diamond Nation debut on Saturday morning in Flemington.

Fudala surrendered two runs on six hits and one walk and struck out nine over 6⅓ innings in a commanding performance for Colossal, playing in just its third tournament of the spring.

“I felt like I had to be a leader,” Fudaa said. “I took it as the starting pitcher that I wanted to be the guy controlling the game. It was all in my mindset.”

Colossal swept its Saturday doubleheader by beating DTA, 13-2. Next up for the South Jersey squad was the New Jersey Rising Rebels 13U White on Sunday at 2:15 p.m.

The Scorpions of Bristol, R.I., bounced back from a loss to Colossal by edging the Rising Rebels, 6-5. The Rhode Island visitors, also making their Diamond Nation debut, close out pool play against DTA on Sunday at 2:15 p.m.

Caleb Lopez, diving back to first, had a hand in three of Colossal’s five runs.

Fudala was throwing a four-hit shutout through six innings. He escaped trouble on three different occasions, and established an early season high in strikeouts. All on the heels of throwing a complete-game shutout last weekend.

“But that team was nowhere near the size of this team (Scorpions),” Fudala said. “I knew they were capable of scoring runs.”

Fudala said he mixed his fastball with a curve and change and left his slider in his holster, to be unveiled at a later date. 

“Two tournaments ago I got hit around pretty good and I was throwing the fastball first pitch,” Fudala said. “So I made sure to execute my pitches with curveball first pitch and changeup first pitch, and then I’d get into my fastball to keep them off balance. That worked best.

“At this age, the hitters never expect it and you’re always trying to keep them off-balance. They’re looking for a fastball first pitch. I’m not much of a speed guy myself so I gotta use everything I can to make my pitches.”

Fudala got a big assist from catcher Connor McNally in the second inning when the Scorpions’ Nate Izzi advanced to first on a dropped third strike. While he ran to first, McNally chased down the loose ball to the backstop and tossed back to Fudala covering home to tag Rosa trying to score from third.

In the third inning, the Scorpions had runners on second and third with two out but Fudala stranded them with a fly ball out. And in the fourth, the Scorpions had a man in scoring position before Colossal put together a 6-3-5 double play.

Caleb Lopez was Fudala’s main supporter on offense, having a hand in three of Colossal’s five runs. He tripled and scored in the second inning, he walked and scored on a wild pitch in the fourth, and he singled in a run in the sixth.

“In the winter, I worked on my lower half so I can go through the ball more and get more power,” Lopez said. “I was working on oppo, too. It was hard at first. I definitely had to work hard to make progress. But now I’ve been swinging it pretty good.”

Colossal took a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning on four straight hits. Lopez tripled to right and scored on a Ryan Zweben single through the middle. Aaron Cappozzoli then tripled home Zweben, and Jackson Passarella blooped a single into shallow right to plate Cappozzoli.

In the top of the fourth, Lopez walked, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and took home on a wild pitch.

In the bottom of that frame, Colossal turned an impressive double play after the Scorpions’ Daniel Spearin stroked a one-out single. Chris Rosa grounded out to shortstop Andryc Molina and Lopez, the Colossal first baseman, whipped the ball back across the diamond to third baseman Connor Byrne to put the tag on Spearin trying to advance on the groundout.

In the sixth, Colossal added one more run thanks to – who else? – Lopez, who singled home Molina from third.

In the seventh, the Scorpions spoiled Fudala’s shutout bid when Rocco DaFonseca drove in Jeremy Zilverio with a double which hugged the left field line, then later scored on a wild pitch.

Lopez came in to relieve Fudala and record the final two outs.

John Mancini pitched five innings for the Scorpions and allowed four runs on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Parker DeWolf gave up one run on two hits with one strikeout in the sixth inning, and Tommy Coutant pitched a scoreless seventh with two walks and one strikeout.

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