Fenton Morrissey is greeted by his Super 12U posse after his two-run homer in the third inning.
By Rich Bevensee
Matias Pelaez has become an authority on the sound of a well-struck baseball headed for the fence.
After eight home runs this summer and one more on Friday night, the young man should be trusted.
“When I get a good barrel on it, it will make a nice noise, like a ping!” Pelaez said, raising his voice to match the tone of his bat. “But most of the time you can hear a deeper noise when you barrel it up and you can sense it’s going out.”
That certainly was the sound Pelaez’ bat made when the lefty hitter cranked a walkoff, two-run home run to right-center field to give the Diamond Jacks Super 12U a 14-3 mercy rule victory over Milltown Padres Red in four innings in the Super 12 Fall Invitational at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“I saw it was more of a line drive and then it started to rise, and then as I got to first I saw it was going to go out,” Pelaez said.
Pelaez and the Super 12U continued their offensive mastery Friday evening with an 18-6 win over the Allentown Aces and clinched first place in their four-team pool. The Diamond Jacks finish pool play on Saturday with a 6:30 p.m. game against Iron Nine.
The Super 12s seek their sixth tournament victory since the team was assembled in the spring as the Diamond Jacks’ Super 11U unit, and their fourth on the Diamond Nation turf. The Super 12s last claimed a championship Aug. 7, at ‘The Nation’s’ August Showdown. The team moved up from 11U to 12U with the Fall season.
The Diamond Jacks have proven to be a tough out at ‘The Nation,’ going 31-16-1 in 14 tournaments since the spring and outscoring the competition 417-219 in that time.
“They’ve had a great run,” said Diamond Jacks coach Jairo Labrador, “They are just a gritty group, and they’re good teammates. I think the key has been that everyone does something well. We don’t have a flamethrower pitcher, but we have guys who can pitch. Usually we’re solid on defense, and we keep getting better and better and better. Just from the summer to now, you can see the evolution from all the hard work.”
Shortstop Fenton Morrissey was the Super 12U’s biggest standout on Friday, making several dazzling defensive plays and blasting an opposite-field, two-run homer to right to fuel the team’s seven-run third inning.
“On the home run I saw that it was outside and I just went with it,” said Morrissey, who chalked up four home runs this summer. “I don’t think I do one thing better than something else. Usually I do the best I can with fielding and hitting. Fielding is fun for me because I enjoy making plays, and the same with hitting. A lot of work goes into it. I practice every day, with my dad (Ross Morrissey) and sometimes my Diamond Jacks coaches.”
“Without question Fenton is a superior athlete. One of our best,” Labrador said.
Diamond Jacks pitcher Nick Stangota pitched 3⅓ innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk with one strikeout. He also supported his cause with an RBI single in the Super 12U’s seven-run third. Nico Comiskey pitched the final ⅔ innings.
“I think I did okay,” Stangota said. “I think it was a little bit of a disadvantage with the weather because it was getting cold and I couldn’t get my release right. It was pretty hard to throw but I got used to it.”
Stangota wasn’t exactly cruising through the Padres order but he did hold them scoreless into the fourth inning by stranding five baserunners.
The Diamond Jacks were backing Stangota with some solid glove work and an offensive attack which never relented.
In the top of the second, with the Diamond Jacks protecting a 1-0 lead, Morrissey made a nifty backhand stop of a Benny Motin grounder in the hold at short and fired to first where Ryan Jezorwski picked it off the turf for the out.
The Diamond Jacks padded their lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the second. Stangota scored from third when Rich Griswold reached on an error, and Griswold later scored on a wild pitch. Andrew Finarelli and Nico Comiskey added back-to-back, bases-loaded RBI groundouts.
Morrissey was showing off his glove again in the third when, with the bases loaded with Padres runners and two out, he went deep in the hole and to his knees for a Jack Katcher grounder and wisely threw to third baseman Finarelli for the third out.
The Diamond Jacks sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third and scored seven runs on five hits. The right-handed hitting Morrissey opened the scoring with his laser-like, two-run homer to right.
Hank Kusant followed with a two-run double which hugged the left field line. Stangota added an RBI infield single, Griswald swatted an RBI double, and Jordan Vesey made it 12-0 with his RBI sacrifice fly.
The Padres finally scratched out a few runs off Stangota in the top of the fourth. Julian Borusevic scored on the back end of a double steal (Mason Blazas stole second and Borusevic broke for home on the throw). Blazas scored on an error on Dylan Riley’s grounder, and the Padres made it 12-3 when Riley scored on a pickoff in which Stangota threw to Morrissey to catch the runner at second leaning the wrong way.
Aiming to end the game via the 10-run, four-inning mercy rule, the Diamond Jacks began with a Logan Koziupa walk before leadoff man Pelaez sent the next offering into the chilly Flemington night.