Teammates await Deklin Sloan after his three-run home run gave Jersey Shore Elite a 3-0 lead.
By Sean Reilly
Youth baseball isn’t just about developing skills that make you a better player. It’s also about learning lessons regarding the nuances of the game.
The Jersey Shore Elite 10U team were privy to one such truth on Monday at the Memorial Day Blast at Diamond Nation: that baseball is a game of redeeming features.
Jersey Shore started its day with a chance to go unbeaten in pool play at the tournament in Flemington. But they came out a bit flat in the 10 a.m. game, and lost a two-run decision to the Nor East Clippers of Connecticut.
The outcome of that game didn’t keep Jersey Shore out of the playoffs, but it did mean that they’d be facing the Clippers once again in the semifinal round at 4:30.
So with several hours to regroup, the team went out to lunch, refocused its thoughts and then got set for the second crack at the Clippers, who wound up winning all four of their pool play contests.
This time, the game was remarkably different. Jersey Shore Elite scored early and often in gaining a 17-4 victory, which was a far cry from its 4-2 defeat against the Clippers earlier in the day.
“In the morning, we just came out a little flat,” Jersey Shore Elite coach Sean Hennessy said. “The other team had played a game already, so I don’t know if that made a difference, but we talked to the guys a little bit, we went to lunch together at the diner, and we talked about a game plan going into this game, and attitude and adjusting their outlook. I think that helped a lot. We wanted redemption.”
It didn’t take long for it to happen.
With one out in the top of the first, Michael Keefe singled, Myles Mitchell hit a grounds rule double, and then Decklin Sloan, who was also the starting pitcher, launched a home run far beyond the fence in left field.
“I knew he had an off-speed, so I was just sitting on off-speed and then I saw it,” Sloan said. “It also gave me courage to go out and pitch.”
The hits kept coming. Consecutive singles by Patrick Hennessy, Mike Arango and Matt Gathman accounted for two more runs, and the sixth and last run of the inning scored on a double by Justin Palemany.
In the bottom of the inning, Sloan allowed two batters to reach (one on an error), but kept a Clippers team that scored 51 times in its four pool games off the board.
“That was a great start,” coach Hennessy said. “He set the tone with that three-run homer and the rest of the team responded to that and we never looked back. We also got good starting pitching from Deklin. The Clippers are a very good team and they can hit. They’re tenacious.”
After sending 10 batters to the plate in the first inning, Jersey Shore had 14 more bat while adding nine more runs for a 15-0 lead in the top of the second. Mitchell, who ended 4-for-4, had two hits and two RBI in the inning, which also included two-run hits from Anthony Paladino and Palemany, who ended 3-for-3 with four RBI.
After the lead grew to 17-0 in the top of the third, The Clippers staved off an early run-rule ending to the game by scoring all four of their runs in the bottom of the inning. Zac Chiulli’s two-run double highlighted the frame for the Clippers.
“It was good to play them again,” Sloan said. “And it was fun to get that many runs.”
Jersey Shore Elite’s bid for a championship ended with a 12-9 loss to the NJ Hammers in the final. The Hammers ended the weekend with a 6-0 record, and outscored their opponents, 83-16.