Hustle Baseball 10U completes successful season with School’s Out title

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 24, 2024

By Sean Reilly

The Hustle Baseball Academy 10U coaching staff met up with their 2024 players for the first time back in January with certain hopes in mind. 

The Fairfield-based organization has teams that compete at Diamond Nation in many age groups, but has no squad younger than 10U.

Therefore, teaching and developing those players in a proper way is paramount. It’s not just about constructing a winning team. It’s also about building an appreciation for the game that lasts a lifetime.

“We met each other and we wanted to develop them to play baseball the way it ought to be played,” Coach Lou Fernandez said. “To understand how to respect the opponents, umpires, fans and the like. Playing the right way is something that gets overlooked now. It’s not just about sitting back for the three-run homer, launch angle, or velocity.”

The emphasis on baseball basics, including proper practice habits, has made Hustle Baseball 10U a successful group. They check all the necessary boxes – they hit, pitch, defend and run the bases. As a result, they also win. And just as importantly, they have fun. 

The team played their final game of the 2024 season on Sunday, facing off against the Diamond Jacks 10U in the final of the Diamond Nation 10U School’s Out tournament.

Like many of the other games played over the past several months, it ended with a victory, as Hustle Baseball rallied for a 10-6 decision. 

Matt Polanco went 3-for-3 with three RBI to lead the way, while pitcher Nico Bertuglia earned tournament MVP honors. 

The team finished its year with a 29-9 record. It played in nine tournaments, and reached eight finals. Four of those finals were at ‘The Nation,’ with a 2-2 record in those games.

“This is step one for this team,” Fernandez said. 

Hustle Baseball went into the final against the Diamond Jacks with a 3-0 weekend record, and 44-0 run differential. But to earn the trophy, Hustle had to not only deal with giving up runs, but also trailing as late as the fifth inning. 

The Diamond Jacks took a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the fifth, which began for Hustle Baseball with No. 2 batter Anthony Camacho-Osorio lining a double past third base on a full count. Bertuglia then drew a four-pitch walk. 

Cleanup man J.J. Marshall, who walked in his two prior at-bats, smacked a first-pitch single to right field. It scored Camacho-Osorio and sent Bertuglia to third. Marshall, meanwhile, took second on a throw. 

Polanco was up next, and he sent the first pitch to left field for a two-run single and an 8-6 lead. Chase Pinto walked before Anthony DeSordi singled in another run. Pinto scored the final run from third when a first-and-third play resulted in an out at second.

“They’ve been in tough situations before,” Fernandez said. “They’re tough and they battle. They know what’s at stake. They’ve been in too many of these, and they’ve lost some tough ones, so they’ve learned lessons from that. That’s helped in their development as well.” 

Hustle Baseball took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. 

Logan DiGirolamo led off with a single to right field, advanced on a wild pitch and remained there as Camacho-Osario was safe on a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop. 

Bertuglia reached on an error that loaded the bases for Marshall. DiGirolamo scored on a wild pitch before Marshall walked to reload the bases. Polanco hit an RBI single to right field. The next two batters struck out before Jack Cavanaugh’s single to shortstop scored the third run.

Nico Bertuglia of Hustle Baseball was named the 10U School’s Out Most Valuable Player.

The Diamond Jacks, who ended the weekend with a 3-1 record, scored a run in the second when Kwame Boachie-Agyeman hit a triple to center with one out before scoring as Weston Hoelper grounded out to shortstop. 

Alex Azzato led off the bottom of second for Hustle Baseball with a walk. He stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when DiGirolamo singled to right field with one out. 

The game took a major turn in the top of the fourth, when the Diamond Jacks struck for four runs to take a 5-4 lead. 

The rally began with a full count walk to Ryan Beardsley, who stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before Mario Armenti also walked on a full count. Armenti also stole second. 

Mason Roman hit an RBI groundout to first, with Armenti advancing to third. Boachie-Agyeman walked, to put two on base for Carter Cust, who had singled in his first at-bat. 

Cust hit a ball that landed just inside the foul line in right field. He was fast out of the box and kept hustling around the bases for a go-ahead inside-the-park three-run home run. 

Hustle Baseball tied it in the bottom of the frame, with Ansh Jariwala leading off with a walk and later scoring on a ground out to second from Tony Odige.

The Diamond Jacks went back ahead, 6-5, in the top of the fifth after Michael Botti (2-for-2) singled to center with one out and scored on Ben Fonseca’a two-out single to center on a full count. 

Cavanaugh pitched the final two innings to earn the win for Hustle Baseball, but Bertuglia was the team’s go-to starting pitcher in the championship game. This was his second year with the team, and he’ll still have 10U eligibility in 2025. 

“This was a great way to end,” Bertuglia said. “We kept fighting until the finish. We had a lot of tournaments, and were in almost every final. We had a lot of fun, and I also like playing here.”

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