Gutsy Diamond Studs slip past Uncommon 2025 to earn Top 25 berth

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 7, 2023

Diamond Studs’ Dan Brea rips a single in the sixth inning against Uncommon 2025.

By Luis Torres

Diamond Studs head coach Travis Zilg felt it was the perfect time to attempt one of the riskiest plays in baseball.

With the game tied in the bottom of the fifth inning and his team having the bases loaded but not swinging the bats as well as they could be, Zilg called for the 10th hitter in his lineup, David De Pierro, to bunt on a suicide squeeze play.

Squeezing a runner home is risky, and it’s even riskier when the opposing team has a force out at home. Zilg trusted De Pierro would come through when asked to lay a bunt down.

And De Pierro executed a perfect bunt toward the pitcher, scoring the go-ahead run on the suicide squeeze play as Diamond Studs defeated UnCommon 2025 Gold, 2-1, in Super 16 World Series play on Friday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

The victory secured a Top 5 finish in the tournament and qualified the Diamond Studs for the Super 16 Top 25 tournament scheduled for Aug. 14-18.

“That’s one of our philosophies. We play small ball,”  Zilg said. “We try to manufacture runs. We believe in our pitching and defense. We weren’t swinging the bats too well today, so I felt that was just an opportunity where we had to try to get one (run) across by getting our bunts down. It ended up working out well. It wasn’t an ideal scenario, but I just felt like we were trying to make something happen at that point.”

Zilg, a Watchung Hills grad and a former college assistant, said he doesn’t call for a suicide squeeze often with the bases loaded. However, calling a squeeze play isn’t too uncommon. Zilg said he called back-to-back suicide squeeze plays in a game on Thursday.

It keeps the defense on their toes, and it keeps the hitters on Diamond Studs’ lineup on theirs as well, knowing that they might have to lay one down whenever the opportunity arises.

“Our guys are very familiar with it,” Zilg said. “We play small ball, get timely hits, and we pitch and play defense. That’s kind of what we’re used to.”

De Pierro said he wasn’t surprised the bunt sign was on for him. 

He attacked the first pitch of his at-bat, showing exceptional bat control to barrel the ball and not hit a popup that might’ve led to an inning-ending double play.

“I was just thinking about anything I had to do to get the run home and put us on top,” De Pierro said. “It felt good. I love it when I execute. I love when I do good stuff for the team. I just love playing baseball.”

Diamond Studs starting pitcher Dan Brea fires away.

Bryan Lockett drove in the lone run of the game for UnCommon 2025 Gold, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the second inning.

But that was the lone blemish on Diamond Studs starting pitcher Dan Brea’s line. 

He was efficient on the mound on Friday, hurling five innings, scattering seven hits and striking out two. Brea threw 26 pitches in the third inning but only 40 pitches in his four other innings combined. 

Brea earned the win as his defense behind him played a clean game to keep UnCommon 2025 Gold off the bases. Brea also went 1-for-2 with a single at the plate.

“He pounds the strike zone,” said De Pierro, who is also the team’s catcher. “He doesn’t strike out too many guys. He’s just efficient. He’s got good mechanics, and he does the job for us.”

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