Lucca aces in-game tests, RCBC takes 13u Garden State title

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 29, 2023

Owen Ehrenkranz goes his bullpen work in prior to 13U Garden State Inv. final.

By Joe Hofmann

Gabe Lucca is on summer vacation, but he was forced to take a quiz after the 13U Garden State Invitational championship game at Diamond Nation Thursday afternoon.

OK Gabe, take out your No. 2 pencil.

What do you like to do the most on a baseball field?

A. Drive a ball into the left-center gap for a two-run triple.

B. Hit one into the left-center gap for an RBI double.

C. Range far to your left and make a nice play while playing shortstop.

D. Strike out a hitter by blowing a fastball by him.

E. Sneak a curve past a hitter looking for a third strike.

F. All of the above.

Time’s up, Gabe.

Your response?

Gabe chose ‘F’ … sort of.

“I like everything,” he said after getting tournament MVP in his RCBC Nationals’ 10-2 victory over the Diamond Jacks Super 13U. “I want to do it all. I love pitching, shortstop, everything.”

Yes, Gabe, but what do you like the best?

“Definitely, it is getting the barrel on the ball and going around the bases,” he said. “To me, it’s all about hitting.”

Hitting is a great place to start with Lucca, who stole the show against the Diamond Jacks in all three facets of the game.

Lucca will be attending Staten Island’s St. Joseph-by-the-Sea in September. He doesn’t exactly want his brilliant all-around performance over the Diamond Jacks to be his last hurrah.

RCBC’s Gabe Lucca had a spectacular game and was named 13U Garden State Invitational MVP.

“I want to play in the pros,” he said. “My dream is to be the best player of all time. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

He is already a terrific teammate. How popular is he? One of his teammates snuck up behind him while he was being interviewed and splashed a cup of water on him.

If you’re not a hit with your teammates, that is not happening.

“Gabe is a great leader on the field and a great kid,” coach Vinny Nicholo said. “He is our best player. He did it all. Defense … hitting. He pitched incredibly well for a championship game against a good team. He got ahead with his fastball and he throws a good curveball.”

Lucca was dominant for the first six innings, pitching one-hit ball with six strikeouts and three walks.

Lucca’s only flaw? Well, that would be nitpicking. But after his team erupted for seven runs on five hits in the sweltering heat in the top of the seventh, he seemed to wilt a bit and surrendered back-to-back doubles to Luca Catanzarite and Gino Spigarelli (RBI) to start the seventh. Reliever Jason Sarnicola had to come in to finish up.

Hey, Lucca’s human after all!

Lucca and Diamond Jacks starter Owen Ehrenkranz were locked in a tight pitcher’s duel in the game’s first four innings.

RCBC broke through with a run in the fourth when Anthony Tepedino tripled to left center and later scored on Dan Ducala’s infield grounder.

RCBC began pulling away with two in the fifth. Christian Manteria reached on an infield error and Christian Winter singled to center before Justin Nicholo’s sacrifice bunt.

That set up Lucca’s first big extra base hit – a two-run double – to make it 3-0.

RCBC put the game away with seven in the seventh. Vince Sileccia doubled to lead off, Anthony Gaglia singled, Manteria singled in a run, Winter reached on an infield hit and Sarnicola tripled in three runs. Lucca tripled in another, Chris Martin walked, Ducala walked and Sileccia was hit by a pitch to plate another run.

The run support was more than enough for Lucca and RCBC, which will head to a Perfect Game tournament in Long Island next weekend.

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