Kusant, Vesey, Morrissey steer Diamond Jacks Super 12U to title

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 31, 2023

By Rich Bevensee

Some are leaders, some are role players, but every member of the Diamond Jacks Super 12U baseball team has contributed to a wildly successful summer, which before this week included three tournament championships.

This week, it was Henry Kusant’s turn to shine in a title game.

Kusant, who typically bats in the lower half of the explosive Diamond Jacks lineup, launched a two-run home run which ignited a game-defining, six-run rally and propelled his team to an 8-0 victory over Sticks Northeast 12U Figuereo in the Boys of Summer championship game on Sunday at Diamond Nation in Flemington. 

Kusant belted his ninth homer of the season, and he also earned the victory in the Diamond Jacks’ 14-0 opening pool play win over Sportika Baseball 12U Blue. 

“Henry had a great weekend,” Diamond Jacks coach Mark Crawford said. “He got some big hits for us, homered for us two or three times, and we gave him the start in our first game and he did a great job so I was happy for him.”

The Diamond Jacks secured their second straight Diamond Nation tournament title and their fourth of the summer to win their fourth championship game in nine final round appearances. They boosted their overall record to 49-12-1, they’re batting .407 as a team and are averaging more than 10 runs per game.

The Diamond Jacks also extended their winning streak to eight games. They haven’t lost since bowing to the Out Of The Park Cyclones in the Mid-Summer Classic final on July 16. 

Diamond Jacks teammates Fenton Morrissey and Jordan Vesey shared the tournament Most Valuable Player award. Morrissey belted a pair of key home runs, one in a 5-2 victory over Sports Zone 12U Black of Syracuse, N.Y., and another in a 9-1 win over the Centercourt Young Guns. 

Vesey, who singled and scored in the final, made just one out all weekend in going 9-for-10 at the plate.

“I’ve been really working on inside and outside pitches,” Vesey said. “I’ve been a lot more focused at the plate. Just trying to get on base, not trying to hit the ball far, just get basic hits.”

Bryson Auten pitched a three-hit shutout and blasted his 21st homer of the season, a two-run shot to cap his team’s third inning, six-run surge. 

Jordan Vesey and Fenton Morrissey were named 12U Boys of Summer MVPs.

Auten, making his second straight start in a championship game, yielded four hits and one walk and struck out eight in five innings. 

“It’s fun to play behind him,” Kusant said. “He throws really hard and it’s fun to watch him.”

“He’s a great pitcher. With him dominating the players at the plate means there’s nothing to do in the field,” Vesey said. “He throws hard, has good breaking pitches. He’s amazing.”

Last week Auten earned a complete game victory after allowing one run on four hits, one walk and one hit batsman with eight strikeouts in leading his team to the Beat The Heat title.

“Every time you throw him out there you know you’re gonna get a great effort, and his fastball is so dominant, the other team is scared to death of him,” Crawford said.

As usual, there were several Diamond Jacks who contributed to the team’s fourth trophy of the summer. 

Harry Politi had an RBI double, Nick Stangota had an RBI single, and Rich Griswold was the only Diamond Jack to reach base twice. He walked in the second inning and reached on an error in the fourth.

Henry Kusant of the Diamond Jacks Super 12U was named MVP of the Boys of Summer tournament.

The Diamond Jacks turned in two defensive gems in the fifth and final inning. Second baseman Andrew Finarelli denied Cole Campbell a base hit when he lunged into the hole to stop a ground ball. And Nico Comiskey made a terrific running catch of a Benjamin Huang flare in right center field for the final out of the game. 

For the Sticks, only T.J. Muhlfeld figured out Auten. Muhlfeld bunted for a single and added a single in the final inning. 

The Sticks reached the 12U final by surviving three close battles. They tied the Connecticut Rebels, 4-4, and defeated Northern Westchester Outlaws 12U, 10-7, and the Locked In Expos, 3-2, in pool play, and then eliminated the OC Titans, 6-2, in the semifinals.

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