Hill’s aggressiveness fuels Generals 14U Black School’s Out championship

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 24, 2024

By Sean Reilly

The job of the leadoff batter often entails working deep counts that make things challenging for an opposing pitcher.

But that’s not the only way the man atop the order can cause havoc, as Mason Hill showed on Sunday afternoon at Diamond Nation. 

Hill, the No. 1 batter in the Bucks County Generals 14U Black lineup, saw a grand total of four pitches when his team faced the Locked In Baseball Expos 14U Blue in the championship of the School’s Out 14U Black Division tournament. 

After taking a ball to start the bottom of the first, Hill lined the next pitch to left field, with the ball skipping past the charging outfielder for a triple.

When he came up again in the third, he doubled on the first pitch he saw off the fence in left field. 

His third at bat, in the fourth inning, resulted in another first-pitch double to left field, which additionally drove in two runs. 

Three straight pitches, and three straight extra-base hits to a nearly identical spot. Not only that, he scored each time, twice on singles by No. 2 batter Zack Ruple, who went 3-for-3 with two RBI. 

Fueled by Hill and Ruple, who went a combined 6-for-6 with five runs and four RBI, the Generals gained a 10-1, five-inning victory for the championship in Flemington. 

The 4-0 weekend, with a 32-7 run differential, gave the Generals a sixth championship in 2024, and second at ‘The Nation.’ The team’s overall record is now 29-4-1. 

Hill hit safely in each game during the tournament, going 6-for-10 with seven runs and seven RBI, including an inside-the-park grand slam. He was selected tournament MVP. 

The odd thing about his showing in the championship was how each hit wound up near the left field corner, which is contrary to his usual approach. 

“All my hits were to left field, but I usually try to go to right-center,” Hill said. “But it still worked. I was feeling well and confident with the barrel.” 

Hill’s three-base hit to start the bottom of the first was followed by an RBI single by Ruple, who was 6-for-11 during the tournament.

Mason Hill of the Bucks County Generals was named 14U Black School’s Out MVP.

“Zack does a great job behind me,” Hill said. 

An infield double play helped the Expos get out of the inning without further damage, and the Morris County-based team scored once in the top of the second to tie.

Patrick Keown singled to center with one out, and after loading the bases on a walk and hit-by-pitch, Ryan Brady walked for a 1-1 score. 

The Generals took command by scoring three times in the third inning before adding six runs in the fourth. 

Hill hit a one-out double off the fence in the third, and scored on Ruple’s single to left. Ruple took second on a throw to the plate, and moved to third on Chase Drissel’s fly out to left. Logan Labs walked and advanced on a wild pitch. Ben Hinderberger then reached on an infield error that scored both runners. 

In the fourth, Dalton Forrester hit an RBI single to left before Hill delivered a two-run double for a 7-1 lead. Ruple singled Hill to third, and Drissel was hit by a pitch. 

Labs hit a sacrifice fly to center, and a throwing error on the play brought in an additional run. Another throwing error brought in the final run. 

Petey Cilluffo was 2-for-3 with a double as part of the Generals’ 11-hit attack. 

Matthew Steigerwalt pitched all five innings for the win. He allowed three hits, with two strikeouts and four walks. 

“I saw good first pitches, so I went with them,” Hill said. “I really like playing here. It has the nicest turf fields that I’ve ever played on, and good competition.”

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