Heroes aplenty as FB Braves charge to 11U April Fool’s title

By Bob Behre | April 8, 2024

Sure, one player can dominate a baseball game but typically it takes a well-rounded team receiving contributions from throughout its lineup to win a championship.

The FB Braves 11U Red Scout tends to grind down their opponents that way, and, on Sunday night, it showed how relentless its lineup can be.

Righthander Lucas Litton provided the steadying hand on the mound and all 10 batters in the FB Braves lineup chipped in some way to an effort that resulted in a 10-5 victory over Grit 11U and the 11U April Fool’s championship at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Litton limited a difficult Grit 11U lineup to five runs, three of which were earned, on five hits as he struck out five and walked two. Litton absorbed much of Grit 11U’s damage in a three-run first inning before nailing down three 1-2-3 innings in his next four frames.

“I hit my spots,” said Litton. “My plan was to get them to pop up and ground out. I was working my fastball, sinker and curveball.” It was Litton’s third win of the spring.

Litton, in fact, contributed all weekend.

“Lucas hit a grand slam on Saturday and had a couple RBI in the semifinals,” said FB Braves coach Dannny Carter.

Nate Bowness was named the 11U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “Nate was 3-for-3 in the semis,” said Carter. And Bowness, the No. 6, ripped the ball in all three at bats in the final, scoring two runs and was in the middle of the four-run rally in the second and the two-run rally in the fifth.

Grit 11U jumped in front in the top of the first with that three-run rally triggered by Luke Yarkon’s leadoff double to left field. Yarkon later scored from third on Ryan Bruno’s infield single before Xavier Crespo launched a two-out, two-run home run over the fence in left-center field.

Grit’s 3-0 lead was erased over the Braves’ first two at bats as the Fairfield, N.J.-based club scored two runs off a pair of errors and a wild pitch. Leadoff batter Harry Velonas and Litton, the No. 3 hitter, scored the runs.

The big blow in a four-run second inning that staked the Braves to a 6-2 lead was Velonas’ three-run triple to the gap in right-center field. The first run of the inning came in on Andrew Petrovski’s fielder’s choice grounder. Connor Schott’s single and walks to Michael DeLorenzo and Brayden Bilak loaded the bases for Velonas.

“Harry’s been unreal,” said Carter. “He’s been hard to get out.”

Litton settled in and retired Grit in order in the second and third innings, getting seven straight outs in all. But Grit climbed back in it with two runs in the fourth.

Will Quick drew a leadoff walk, but was caught stealing on a nice throw by catcher Andrew Nazare. Ryan Bruno reached on a dropped pop up in shallow right field and raced to third on Ryan Calderon’s double down the left field line. Bruno scored on a wild pitch and Emmanuel Walton delivered Calderon with a sac fly to left.

Nate Bowness of FB Braves 11U Red Scout was named MVP of the 11U April Fool’s tournament.

Their lead now trimmed to 6-5, the Braves went back to work in the bottom of the fourth. Petrovski and Schott drew back-to-back walks to ignite the rally. Each stole a base before DeLorenzo brought home the first run on a fielder’s choice grounder to the left side. Velonas brought home the second run on a sac fly to center field that was dropped.

Litton closed out his five-inning outing nicely with a 1-2-3 fifth in which he struck out the first two batters of the inning.

The Braves then did what good teams do and tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead to 10-5. Nazare started it with a one-out walk before Bowness reached on an outfield error. Nazare took third on the drop and Bowness subsequently stole second to set up Schott’s two-run single through the right side.

Schott’s performance, he was 2-for-2, scored two runs and drove in two, highlighted an outstanding effort by the Nos. eight-through-10 batters in the Braves order. DeLorenzo, the No. 9 hitter, had a single, drew a walk, drove in a run and scored a run. Bilak, the No. 10 hitter, singled, drew a walk and scored a run.

Every batter in the Braves’ lineup reached base and eight of the 10 scored at least one run.

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