Jack Mocik dives home to score on second-inning wild pitch, giving Jersey Shore Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
By Sean Reilly
This weekend’s 17/18U Labor Day Blast at Diamond Nation is unlike any other tournament for the members of the Jersey Shore Wildcats.
After a long time spent playing together, it’s the last event before most go their separate travel baseball ways.
The Wildcats, a very successful bunch over the years, are determined to go out on a high, and started the weekend on an excellent note by blanking the PA Shockers, 5-0, on Friday in Flemington.
“This is our last one as a team,” said pitcher Cullen Condon, who is about to begin his senior year at Manasquan High School. “We’ve been together for 10 years, this same organization. It’s definitely a heartbreaking moment, but everyone is going in their own directions to college and all that stuff, so it’s good. Ten years has been a lot, with a lot of good memories, too.”
Condon, who will play during the upcoming year with a travel team out of Connecticut, was impressive. In his four-inning start, he gave up one hit, with five strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter. Of the three base runners he allowed, one was picked off at first base and another was erased on an infield double play.
That second-inning double play fit into Condon’s profile, since four of his outs were on ground balls, with only one Shockers ball hit past the infield.
“I had command of my fastball and tried to spot up my curveball,” he said. “Getting ground balls and good defense from my teammates really helped.”
Condon, who has a goal of hitting 91 on the speed gun this fall after recently reaching 90, was timed in the high 80s against the Shockers, another organization whose teams have excelled this year at ‘The Nation.’
The Wildcats broke through by scoring twice in the second inning. Jack Mocik led off by walking on a 3-1 count, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. With Nick Quagliato up with one out, Mocik scored on a wild pitch.
Matt Difeo reached on an infield fielder’s choice which produced the second out, but took second on a throwing error as the Shockers unsuccessfully tried for a double play. Difeo stole third, and also scored on a wild pitch.
The lead was extended to 3-0 in the fourth. Colin MacDermant was hit by a pitch leading off. A wild pitch moved the runner to second, and advanced to third as Quagliato flew out to center field. Difeo, who went 1-for-2 with two walks out of the top spot in the order, then lined an RBI single to left field.
Condon was relieved by Jack Dawson to start the fifth, which began for the Shockers with Chad Kaufman getting hit by a pitch and Joe Letko following with a single to right field. The Wildcats then turned their second infield double play, and Dawson fanned the next batter to end the inning.
The Shockers also threatened with runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, but the trail runner was thrown out stealing by catcher Shane Andrus before Dawson struck out the batter.
In the bottom of the inning, Difeo led off with a walk, and Wyatt Hunt followed with a RBI triple to right center. Hunt then scored when Andrus grounded out to third.
The Wildcats have three more pool play games remaining, against PS2 Academy on Saturday before meeting LVBA and 18U Mid-Atlantic Ghost on Sunday.
The Shockers oppose the 18U Mid-Atlantic Ghost on Saturday and then play LVBA and the South Jersey Young Guns on Sunday.
The 10-team tournament concludes with playoffs for the top three teams on Monday.