Mason Myers and Andrew Valay ignited a seven-run top of the fourth inning with back-to-back RBI triples to send All-Out Pack to a 9-5 victory over KR Express Elite in the 14U Spring Invitational championship game.
Righthander Anthony Cataldo closed out the victory with an inning and two-thirds of solid relief as both teams weathered a championship game challenged by heavy winds.
The opening weekend at Diamond Nation saw a pleasant Saturday afternoon followed by an evening rain delay and a seasonally comfortable Sunday turned into an uncomfortably cold evening highlighted by the brisk winds. Such is springtime in New Jersey, where unreliable and undependable weather is the one consistent you can depend upon.
“It was a learning experience for sure,” said All-Out Pack 14U coach Brett Thorp. “We definitely learned not to give up on a fly ball.”
Both teams had their defensive issues as the left-to-right wind pushed fly balls all over the diamond. But no wind was knocking down the shots by Myers and Valay.
All-Out (3-0-1) entered its at bat in the fourth trailing 4-2 and Cataldo got things started by drawing a leadoff walk. The lefty-hitting Myers then unloaded a shot into the left-center field gap for an RBI triple. Valay went the opposite way, too, ripping a blast into the right-center field gap for a triple that chased home Myers with the tying run.
“We were down, 4-2, so those triples really jump-started us,” said Thorp.
Valay scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball and All-Out would tack on four more runs with its typically aggressive play. Tyler Rodgers’ adventure around the bases accentuated that pose. Rodgers drew a walk, stole second, reached third on Jude Morgan’s bunt single and scored on Brayden Thorp’s bouncer to the right side. Morgan scored on Mike Baxter’s infield single before Alex Valay busted it open with a two-run inside-the-park home run to straightaway center field. Alex was conveniently buried in the deep, at the No. 11 spot in the All-Out batting order.
Righthander Guy Lynam had started and was moving along well but got in trouble in the third when he walked the bases loaded around a strikeout. Thorp called on Catalado and the righty responded by striking out the first batter he faced for the second out. But Cataldo uncorked a wild pitch with Colin Lahiff at the plate to permit Ryan Landry to score and tie the game at 2-2.
Lahiff then singled into right-center to deliver two runs and give KR Express Elite (3-2) a 4-2 lead. But Cataldo got out of trouble from there.
“Striking out that first batter was big,” said Thorp about Cataldo’s relief stint. “That was huge after we put him in that situation. It helped us get through that inning.”
Sam Perry held the potent All-Out lineup to two runs over the first three innings on two hits. He struck out seven, including five over a six batter stretch, and walked three. Early spring pinch counts had KR Express Elite going to its bullpen in the fourth and All-Out was able to take advantage of it.
Andrew Pron had a big final, going 3-for-3 with a double and drove in a run.
“Andrew was getting the ball in play and came up with some big hits for us this weekend,” said. Thorp.
KR Express Elite, which is based in Rhode Island, put forth a major threat in its last at bat, shaving a 9-4 lead to 9-5 and loading the bases with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate. Tony DeFusco started the rally with a one-out single and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice grounder. But, after walking Harold Fernandez and Espinal, Cataldo finished it in style with a strikeout.
Spring Invitational Recaps
Team NuYork Elite
Team NuYork Elite defeated RCBC Marucci American, 19-0, in the 10U Spring Invitational championship game. Ajay Malhorta of Team NuYork was named the 10U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Team NuYork (4-0) outscored its opponents 62-5. RCBC Marucci American were outscored by its opponents 33-25.
Diamond Jacks Super 11U
The Diamond Jacks Super 11U defeated EEP Bandits SI, 12-4, in the 11U Spring Invitational championship game. Ryan Jerzorski and Jason Sporer of Super 11U shared the 11U tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. Super 11U (4-0) outscored its opponents 38-13. EEP Bandits SI (3-2) held a 36-32 runs advantage on its opponents.
Diamond Jacks Super 12U 16, Franklin Warriors 0
The Diamond Jacks Super 12U defeated the Franklin Warriors, 16-0, in the 12U Spring Invitational championship game. Kamau Taylor of Super 12U was named the 12U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Super 12U (4-1) outscored its opponents 63-10. Franklin (4-1) matched its opponents with a 34-34 runs slate.
The Diamond Jacks Super 13U defeated Grit 13U Black, 9-1, in the 13U Spring Invitational championship game. Nick Do of Super 13U was named the 13U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Super 13U (5-0) outscored its opponents 50-3. Grit 13U Black (4-1) held a 31-21 runs advantage on its opponents.
NOTES: Landry doubled down the left field line leading off the bottom of the first inning for KR Express Elite and scored when Allen Espinal’s wind blown pop-up fell safely between home plate and third base for an infield single.
… All-Out outlasted the Diamond Jacks Gold 14U squad in the semifinals, edging the host team 11-10 in eight innings via the California Tiebreaker. All-Out tied the game with a four-run top of the sixth inning and took a four-run lead with a four-run top of the seventh. But the Diamond Jacks rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh, all scoring with two outs, to tie it and send it to the tiebreaker.
… All-Out outscored its opponents this weekend 31-17. KR Express Elite held a 31-26 runs advantage on its opponents.