Jack Leibensperger cranked a three-run triple to pace the Diamond Jacks Gold 12U.
By Rich Bevensee
It’s always a better party when everyone is having fun. That’s why the Diamond Jacks coaches preach to all players to concentrate on their hitting, so that batters 1 through 12 contribute to the offense.
The boys who play for Diamond Jacks 12U Gold have taken that lesson to heart, and it may not have been demonstrated better than on Saturday when the Diamond Jacks produced 45 runs in two victories.
First they defeated Baseball U Anthracite, 20-7, and later that evening, amidst temperatures in the low 40s, the Diamond Jacks heated up their bats once more and trounced Locked In Baseball Expos Black, 25-4, in the 12U Grand Slam tournament at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
In the three-inning game against the Expos, all 12 Diamond Jacks batters scored at least once, nine had base hits and 10 drove in runs.
“If just the top of the order hits, then it’s going to be just them scoring,” said Jack Leibensperger, who also pitched a one-hitter in the victory over the Expos. “But if the bottom of the order hits, too, then everybody gets to hit and everyone has more fun and scores more runs.”
Many of the Diamond Jacks didn’t have many strikes at which to swing, but No. 2 hitter Leibensperger and No. 12 hitter Mason Bennett made the most of their pitch selection. Leibensperger sparked an 11-run third inning with a monstrous three-run triple, and Bennett locked up the bottom of the order with two hard-hit singles up the middle.
“When I see that I’m hitting 12th, I’m thinking I’m setting up for the top of the order to get runners on base,” Bennett said. “We’re all pretty equal. The No. 1 man leads everything off, and the 12 man is setting everyone up for success.”
Bennett finished 2-for-2 with a walk, drove in three runs and scored twice.
“It makes me feel really good (to contribute from the bottom of the order) because when that happens it’s like a cycle and we’re all having fun in the dugout and everything is going well for us.”
This contest was never in doubt, as the Diamond Jacks leaped to a 9-0 lead in the top of the first inning. By the third inning, coach Jason Keller’s players were aiming to amass enough runs to enact the 14-run mercy rule for three innings.
That’s where Leibensperger comes in. With the bases loaded and no out, Leibensperger launched a high fly to right center which cleared the bases while he finished with a three-run, stand-up triple. That made the score 17-3.
Leibensperger’s blast began an 11-run rally which included three hits and seven walks. Brandon Barbatto and Cipriano Panzarella both contributed RBI singles to the rally.
Panzarella, Jacob Hamlin and Holden Gasparro both finished with two RBI, as did Mason Matis, who doubled.
Keller said he liked that his players weren’t swinging at bad pitches for the sake of getting a base hit. But he was also pleased to see everyone making contact in the two offensively productive games.
“We teach an aggressive nature so every at bat, you’re ready to go,” Keller said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is. Every at bat you’re battling, battling, battling. We always want to barrel it up. If we walk, we walk, but we’re not looking to walk.
“They’re all very disciplined, and at this point they’re all in the rhythm. It’s a message program-wide that we’re going to be aggressive at the plate, so it makes it a little easier when they see the big guys (older Diamond Jacks teams) doing it, too.”
Leibensperger pitched a one-hitter over three innings. He gave up five walks, hit one batter and struck out six.
Leibensperger didn’t surrender a hit until Expos pinch-hitter Dan Singlese rapped an RBI single in the third inning. Blake DiChristoforo, Tommy Sanfilippo and Evan Kakolyris each contributed a groundout RBI for the Expos.
The Expos would drop their final pool play game to Baseball U Anthracite on Sunday. The Diamond Jacks (4-0), meanwhile, rolled to the 12U Grand Slam championship, outsourcing their opponents 40-5.