Kosuda keeps foot on the gas to Super 17’s benefit

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 27, 2023

Matt Kosuda is greeted by his Super 17 teammates after hitting a grand slam in the third inning.

By Rich Bevensee

Matt Kosuda has heard the whispers, and he wants them to stop.

The summer months are prime time for college recruiters to take a good long look at the top high school baseball players, but unfortunately it’s also the time for second guessing.

Kosuda, a rising senior at St. Joseph’s Metuchen and a William and Mary commit, wants everyone to know that just because a committed ballplayer has a bad day at the park, it doesn’t mean they’re coasting into college.

“That fires me up because people don’t know what’s going on behind the doors,” said Kosuda, a third baseman and outfielder with the Diamond Jacks Super 17U squad. “Baseball’s a grind. It’s hard enough no matter where you’re going (to school). You’re going to go 0-for-3 or get the golden sombrero. In that regard, it ticks me off to hear stuff. I know one thing, I never take my foot off the gas because I hold myself to a higher standard. I go hard every time.”

Kosuda made it abundantly clear to anyone watching on Wednesday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington that he is not coasting even with a college commitment in his back pocket. The stocky third baseman came up a triple short of the cycle in going 3-for-3 with seven RBI, and he led the Diamond Jacks to a 12-2, four-inning pool play victory over Knights Empire of Long Island, N.Y., in the Super 17 World Series.

The win allowed the Diamond Jacks to finish 2–2 in pool play. They defeated the Knights and U.S. Elite Virginia 17U, 6-0, and lost to EABO Riverdawgs 17U, 7-4, and the Centercourt Makos, 5-1. 

Kosuda had an RBI double in the first inning, a two-run triple in the second, and a grand slam home run in the third.

“He’s got pop, but if he stays with more of a line drive approach he’s gonna get more of the result that he did today,” Diamond Jacks coach Kevin Cust said. “It was good to see him get the line drive double and then take off.”

Diamond Jacks leadoff hitter Mike Contiliano had two hits, an RBI and two runs scored.

The grand slam was Kosuda’s fifth homer of the summer after a five-homer high school season this past spring, and one more homer in the Quad County High School All-Star Game at North Brunswick.

He hit one home run all of last year.

The 5-10 Kosuda credited his power surge to consistent off-season weight room work. He said he was 185 last season and now weighs 210 pounds.

“I worked very hard in the winter time, three times a week at The Annex in Chatham,” Kosuda said. “A lot of Division 1 college commits go there. I recommend that to any athlete who wants to get better. It transformed my performance from freshman year to now.

“And once I go to college I’m going up against grown men, and I want to be able to play. I want to be able to compete. That’s my whole thing.”

Kosuda said the trips to the Annex weren’t directly related to a yearning to start clearing the fences, but he did want to start driving more balls into the gaps. It’s safe to say a bigger, stronger frame has elevated Kosuda’s game. 

“The cool thing is you do the work in the offseason, and then you see the progress in the game,” Kosuda said. “And what I noticed is that balls I used to miss are starting to travel, starting to go out. I’m getting extra base hits that I didn’t get last year. I started to notice it in the high school season. Balls that I barreled up I could watch a little bit longer. When I barrel it up I get a feeling it’s gone, and it’s a cool feeling.”

Kosuda’s weight room work is only a small glimpse into the young man. He has proven that William and Mary is getting a diligent worker on and off the field. Kosuda carried a 3.95 GPA as a junior at St. Joe’s, and this spring he batted .311 for the Falcons with five homers and 21 RBI.

With all of the work he’s done to become an all-around student-athlete, Kosuda tires of the chatter that committed high school players can relax and go about their business.

“Being a committed guy, it’s a lot of focus,” Kosuda said. “You could slack off and not play your game. But to me the only relaxing part of it is knowing where you’re going. The whole thing with baseball I’ve learned is that nothing is guaranteed. Even with scholarship players, nothing is guaranteed so you have to work even harder.

“I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m never taking my foot off the gas.”

Kosuda led a balanced Diamond Jacks offense, something Cust said has been missing at times this summer. Seven of 10 batters registered a base hit, nine of 10 reached base safely, and five drove in at least one run.

Mike Contiliano, Jayden Shin and David Bertz each had two hits and an RBI. Nick Baillargeon tripled, Nick Hernandez doubled, and Robert Kelly had three walks and scored three times.

The Diamond Jacks also got sturdy pitching from Cody Sherrer, a rising senior at North Warren, and Bertz, a rising senior at Nazareth (Pa.).

Cody Sherrer (right) is congratulated by Diamond Jacks’ Jayden Shin after he struck out five.

Sherrer, who displayed an 88-mile per hour fastball, pitched two scoreless innings and struck out five while allowing one hit. Bertz, who offered an 85 mph fastball, permitted two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in two innings. 

“Cody’s been like that all year for us. He’s been great,” Cust said. “He attacks with the heater and he hits both sides of the plate with it.”

“It’s coming down to the end of summer so I’m focusing on staying within myself and throwing strikes,” said the 6-1, 190-pound Sherrer, who noted he’s seen a slight uptick in his velocity since the spring.”

Knights Empire (0-3) concludes pool play against NJ Saints 16U on Thursday at 8 a.m. They lost to the Diamond Jacks, the Raleigh Baseball Institute, 2-1, and NJ Saints 2025, 6-0.

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