It’s always difficult to grind through a long tournament and survive and advance to the championship game. It may be even harder to reach that final game with some facsimile of a pitching staff still standing.
The Jersey Shore Fire was blessed to have Ethan Dodd ready to go against the hearty hitting lineup of Hustle Baseball Academy in the 15U Mid-Summer Classic championship game last night at Diamond Nation.
Dodd delivered by absolutely pouding the strike zone with fastballs and dropping in some well-timed curveballs as he scattered six hits, struck out 10 and, impressively, walked none as Jersey Shore Fire cruised to a 5-1 victory and the tournament championship.
“It really is hard to get to the final and have any pitching left,” said Jersey Shore coach Buddy DeMilio. “We were fortunate our pitchers threw enough strikes to get us through games without having to use too many of them.”
Jersey Shore pitching, and its stout defense, permitted just four runs in its 5-0 tournament run, including two shutouts. Fire pitching never surrendered more than two runs to an opponent.
“I was getting ahead in counts, that was the big thing,” said Dodd, a rising junior at Egg Harbor Township High School. He said he was pleased with his fastball and curveball.
Dodd’s only real trouble came in the top of the fourth after the Fire had already built a 3-0 lead. Lou Rivera and Jeuriz Polanco opened the inning for Hustle Baseball with singles, but Dodd would work out of major trouble while permitted just one run. A.J. Guiliana brought Hustle Baseball’s only run home with a fielder’s choice grounder to the right side.
Rian O’Rourke would provide the only runs Jersey Shore Fire would need when he rifled a shot into right field to score Aiden Patella and Gavin Atkinson for a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Patella, the No. 8 hitter, had drawn a one-out walk and Atkinson, the No. 9 hitter, chased him to third with a single to center field. Atkinson took second when the relay was mishandled. O’Rourke stepped in with two outs and delivered.
Dodd helped his own cause in the third when he singled home Stephan DeMilio for a 3-0 lead. DeMilio had drawn a two-out walk and reached second when the Hustle Baseball catcher overthrew first base on a pickoff attempt.
The Fire extended the lead to 5-1 in the fourth courtesy of another rally ignited by the bottom of the order.
Patella led off and beat out a slow grounder to shortstop before Atkinson reached on a throwing error. Patella went all the way to third base on the play but Atkinson was thrown out trying to take second. Patella then scored on a wild pitch with Noah Baxter at the plate to boost the lead to 4-1. Baxter walked and O’Rourke, the Fire’s reliable leadoff hitter, singled again. Then, with two outs, No. 3 hitter Nick Daubrowney singled to center to score Baxter and lift the lead to 5-1.
Dodd seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. His fastball had more life and his well-placed curveball gained more bite. The righthander would get four of the last seven batters he faced by strikeout, permitting just one baserunner, Jacob Hogan, who singled.
“Ethan is a good pitcher,” said coach DeMilio. “We were lucky to still have him available for the final.”
While Jersey Shore Fire’s bats were more timely than dominant in the final, the team had a strong tournament at the plate, scoring 30 runs, an average of six runs a game. That included an 8-0 victory over Syracuse Baseball Club in the tournament opener and a 9-0 win over International Baseball Academy in the final game of pool play. Jersey Shore squeaked past A’s Prospects 2022 National, 2-1, in the semifinals.
Hustle Baseball Academy outscored its tournament opponents 34-13.
Mid-Summer Classic recaps
Diamond Jacks 10U 10, Cherry Hill National 9
The Diamond Jacks 10U nipped Cherry Hill National, 10-9, in the 10U Mid-Summer Classic championship game. Kevin Stephenson of the Diamond Jacks was named the 10U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Diamond Jacks (3-1) outscored their opponents 38-20. Cherry Hill National (2-1) held a 34-20 runs advantage on its opponents.
CB Raiders 7, NJ Glory-Graphite 2
The CB Raiders defeated NJ Glory-Graphite, 7-2, in the 12U Mid-Summer Classic championship game. Jimmy Ridge of the CB Raiders was named the 12U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The CB Raiders (4-0) outscored their opponents 36-8. NJ Glory-Graphite (4-1) held a 58-21 runs advantage on its opponents.
RCBC Nationals 7, Diamond Jacks Super 13U 2
The RCBC Nationals defeated the Diamond Jacks Super 13U, 7-2, in the 13U Mid-Summer Classic championship game. RCBC Nationals (5-1) outscored their opponents 53-17. The Diamond Jacks Super 13U (4-1) held a 49-16 runs advantage on their opponents.
Jersey Shore Fire 5, Hustle Baseball Academy 1
Jersey Shore Fire defeated Hustle Baseball Academy, 5-1, in the 15U Green Bracket Mid-Summer Classic championship game. The 15U Green Bracket Most Valuable Player was awarded to the entire Jersey Shore Fire team. Jersey Shore Fire (5-0) outscored its tournament opponents 30-4. Hustle Baseball Academy (4-1) held a 34-13) runs advantage on its opponents.
North Tonawanda Americans 3, Teel Ravens 0
North Tonawanda Americans defeated the Teel Ravens, 3-0, in the 15U Blue Bracket Mid-Summer Classic championship game. Paulie Schwandt of North Tonawanda was named the 15U Blue Bracket Most Valuable Player. North Tonawanda (4-0-1) outscored its opponents 39-7. The Teel Ravens (3-2) held a 21-14 runs advantage on their opponents.
Wladyka American 10, Taconic Rangers 0
Wladyka American defeated the Taconic Rangers, 10-0, in the 15U Red Bracket Mid-Summer Classic championship game. Lucas Egenhauser of Wladyka American was named the 15U Red Bracket Most Valuable Player. Wladyka American (4-0) outscored its opponents 31-5. The Taconic Rangers (3-2) held a 29-24 runs advantage on their opponents.
16U Summer Championship
Frozen Ropes Rockies 4, RCBC New Jersey 2
The Frozen Ropes Rockies edged RCBC New Jersey, 4-2, in the 16U Summer Championship final, 4-2. Adam Paperny of Frozen Ropes was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Rockies (7-0) outscored their opponents 36-9. RCBC New Jersey (6-1) held a 44-20 runs advantage on its opponents.
14U Diamond Nation World Series
Team Steel Gold 10, PA Shockers 3
Team Steel Gold defeated the PA Shockers, 10-0, in the 14U Diamond Nation World Series championship game. Carlos Martinez of Team Steel Gold was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Team Steel Gold (6-0) outscored its opponents 66-21. The PA Shockers (5-1) held a 35-16 runs advantage on their opponents.