Intensity Baseball 15U shows it can take a punch

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 4, 2024

Intensity’s Vinny Cilento hits a two-run double in the third inning.

By Rich Bevensee

Intensity Baseball 15U had no time to get comfortable with its five-run lead early in the game. Show New England Showcase answered the Jersey Shore team’s rally with one of its own to climb within a run.

Intensity’s answer was what counter-punchers do when they see the other team’s best punch. They rally again with one as strong as the last. 

D.J. Bruck cranked a two-run triple to fuel a four-run fourth inning, a rally which helped Intensity flip a one-run game into a 13-6 victory in six innings in the 15U Diamond Nation World Series on Wednesday in Flemington. 

“You have to know, we have to go get this and attack, and the nice thing is everyone knows it,” Bruck said.

“I know my guys and they can compete,” Intensity coach Ryan Slate said. “These guys battle. They are impressive young men.”

Intensity improved to 2-1 and will finish pool play against 5-Star National N.Y. 2027 Brown on Thursday at 8 a.m.

Show, also 2-1, closes pool play against Locked In Baseball Expos Black on Thursday at 10 a.m.

Brandon Wilson, a rising sophomore at Jackson Memorial, was exceptional in relief for Intensity, pitching the final three innings and allowing one run on five hits and one walk with one strikeout.

“The other team began the game with energy, then we showed ours and we shut them down,” Williams said. 

The inning before Wiliams entered, he watched as Show rallied for four runs in the bottom of the third off his teammate Vinny Cilento (a rising sophomore at A.L. Johnson) to get within a run at 6-5. 

Intensity roared back with a four-run fourth to give Wilson some breathing room at 10-5.

Michael Enes of New England Showcase hit a monstrous solo home run in the second inning.

“When you come in with a big lead you’re kind of free. You can pitch how you like,” Wilson said.  But when you’re squeezed with only a one-run lead you have to make sure you throw strikes. I was confident in my game, throwing strikes and trusting my defense is my game. On the offensive side, we worked together and that gave me more confidence.”

Wilson pitched 8⅔ innings for the Jackson Memorial varsity baseball team as a freshman this past spring, and that’s where he gets some of his confidence, Slate said. 

“He has a great mindset when he enters the game, knowing we’re going to pitch and play defense,” Slate said. 

Slate noted that Intensity, a program based in Avon, N.J., has played seven games in five days. The back-to-back innings with multiple-run rallies didn’t come as a surprise because his team has learned to build momentum when opportunities present themselves.

“Bouncing back with another rally shows what kind of kids I have,” Slate said. “They can fight. I love the energy we bring. We do it humbly and we do it the right way.”

As Wilson said, Show began the game with energy when Michael Enes slugged a no-doubt-about-it, solo home run to left in the bottom of the second for a 1-0 Show lead. 

Intensity wasted no time showing it was equal to the task, scoring six runs in the top of the third. Cilento put Intensity in front with a two-run double. Two more runs scored following an error on a Bruck high chopper. Declan Brain and Brandon Bastek followed with RBI singles for a 6-1 lead.

Show, a Peabody, Massachusetts-based program which had scored 16 runs in its first two pool games, rebounded as expected with four runs in the bottom of the forth to crawl within 6-5. Connor Scialdone had an RBI double, Jimmy DiCarlo had an RBI single and Anthony Polichetti topped the rally off with a two-run, opposite-field double to right center. 

Show had displayed effective pitching and defense in their first two games, allowing a combined three runs in wins over The Sports Yard and 5-Star N.Y. National 2027-Brown. 

Intensity ignored that statistic and fought to place another crooked number on the board. 

“We’re a family,” said Bruck, a rising sophomore at Colts Neck. “We come together and when we need it, we get the runs. This team is amazing. We come together when we need to and that’s the best part of it.”

In the top of the fourth, Tyler Hager began Intensity’s four-run surge by stroking an RBI single. Bruck lofted an opposite-field fly inside the right field line which went for a two-run triple. And Wilson added an RBI single for a 10-5 lead.

Intensity added three more runs in the sixth when Chris Perrotta roped an RBI triple, and both Perrotta and Hager scored on an error following a Bruck grounder. 

Cilento’s line was six runs allowed in three innings on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts. 

For Show, Jack Smith went 2⅔ innings and surrendered six runs (four earned) on seven hits and four walks with one strikeout. Anthony Papalardo pitched 1⅓ innings and allowed four runs on four hits and five walks. Jack Mercier pitched the final two innings and yielded three runs (one earned) on three hits and one walk with two strikeouts.

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