Alex Voli of Morris County Cubs launched a grand slam in the first inning of 12U World Series game.
By Joe Hofmann
School may be out for summer, but the learning continues – with baseball providing the lessons, Diamond Nation the classroom, and the Brooklyn Falcons 12U team the students.
By the end of the day, the Falcons notebooks were jam packed.
Baseball Lesson: The Falcons refused to lose before the team stormed back from a seven-run deficit to capture a wild 10-9 victory over the Morris County Cubs at the Diamond Nation 12U World Series on Sunday.
Moral of the story: Don’t ever quit.
Baseball/Life Lesson: When you root for your teammates now or your coworkers later on in life, your chances of success increases.
Moral of the story: When you pull together, everything becomes easier.
Life lesson: Finish what is in front of you.
Moral of the story: When things look bleak, forge ahead. Good things may be on their way if you do.
After three innings, the Falcons trailed 9-2. All looked lost.
Coach Alex Gomez’s team stuck with it and that attitude paid off in the bottom of the fifth when they erupted for seven runs to tie it.
They won it with a run in the bottom of the sixth.
“What carried us was that they all got together and cheered each other on,” Gomez said. “They were supporting each other and chanting and having each other’s backs.”
“We really had to fight for the victory,” said winning pitcher Mateo Frank, who came on in relief of starter Sachel Haynes in the second. “We never thought it was out of reach.”
That thinking paid off in the latter innings, when Brooklyn began its comeback.
The Falcons won it in the sixth when Jaren Fret drew a bases-loaded walk to score Frank, who reached on a force. Jewls Fagin followed by getting hit by a pitch before No. 9 hitter Christian Cortez singled to load the bases, setting the stage for Fret.
Brooklyn wasn’t able to do much against Cubs starter Matthew Sturgeon, who had retired nine straight batters in the second, third and fourth after allowing single runs in the first and second innings.
Brooklyn’s Chris Miranda began the comeback with a leadoff double and, one out later, Fagin hit an RBI double. After Cortez flew out to center for the second out, the Cubs couldn’t get the third out until after Brooklyn had tied it.
Fret reached on an infield hit and Teo Palumbo hit a two-run single before Ryder Seawood launched a long home run to left center, pulling his team to within 9-7.
Sturgeon walked the next hitter before Michael Ortiz hit a home run to right to tie it before reliever Jaxson Bishop struck out the last batter to end the inning.
Ortiz knew it was gone and he raised his fist in the air the moment he let go of his bat.
“I always felt we had a shot,” Gomez said. “We just had to keep chipping away. The game is not over until the last out. You control the game. You have to keep grinding out every at bat.”
Morris County was in complete control and dominated the early stages of the game with seven runs in the first inning off Haynes, who couldn’t find the strike zone.
With one out, Ryan Kovacs was hit by a pitch, Jaret Haupt walked, and Franky Falco was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Vincent Santorelli walked in a run and Sturgeon was hit by a pitch to force home another run, making it 2-0.
Alex Voli then launched a long grand slam home run to left, making it 6-0. One out later, Paul Postorino singled, stole second, and came around to score on Evan Toro’s single.
The Cubs’ Kovacs launched a solo homer to lead off the second. In the third, Morris County made it 9-2 when Luke Fazio was hit by a pitch and scored on a Toro base hit.
But the well ran dry for the rest of the game thanks to the relief work of Frank, who was in complete control once he got his feet on the ground. He used a fastball, slider and curveball.
“We chipped away and scored a ton of runs,” Frank said.
They didn’t stop until they pulled it out – and learned many lessons along the way.