Manchello goes BOOM for Cherry Hill National in Super 12 Invitational

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 13, 2023

A.J. Domenico of the PA Rebels is ahead of pickoff throw by the Cherry Hill National catcher.

By Sean Reilly

Gianni Manchello had never hit two home runs in a game before.

On Sunday afternoon, the Cherry Hill National first baseman cracked two in the opening inning, and one of them happened to be a grand slam.

Needless to say, it was a game that he’ll remember, as it propelled his team to a 14-0 win over the PA Rebels at Diamond Nation’s Super 12 Invitational in Flemington.

“I’d never done that,” he said of his two long home runs. “I was just looking to make contact.”

The Cherry Hill National team is one that has had substantial success over the last few years. Their summer season opened with a championship last weekend at the Ripken complex in Maryland.

But an unusual thing happened in their opening game at ‘The Nation’ on Saturday – Cherry Hill was blanked, 2-0, by Canes NJ 12U. When each team won their second game that day, it meant that Canes NJ 12U guaranteed itself a first-place pool finish.

It also meant that Cherry Hill National would be playing for pride on Sunday against a Rebels team that was also 1-1, but playing shorthanded, especially in the pitching department, after a couple of injuries on Saturday.

All of those factors were evident right from the start in the final game for each team. After the Rebels had three hits but could not score in the top of the first, Cherry Hill National exploded for 13 runs in the bottom of the inning.

It all started with bunt singles by Miles Balmores and Gavin Heil. Vincent Olivo then drove in both runners with a double to left field. Manchello followed with his first home run, a two-run shot, beyond the fence in center field.

Gianni Manchello is greeted at plate by Cherry Hill National teammates C.J. Loveledge and Vincent Olivo after his first HR.

C.J. Lovelidge was up next, and he doubled to center. Brendan Cooney was safe on a bunt single, and an error on the play scored Lovelidge with the fifth run.

After the next batter struck out, Dhilan Muttahil hit an RBI single. He later scored on an error. Two more runs would score before Manchello came to bat again, this time with two out and the bases loaded. He rocked a grand slam over the fence in center.

“We lost our first game, and we didn’t really hit the ball and left people on base,” he said. “It was good to get our bats back.”

Cherry Hill National ended the game in the third inning. Balmores (2-for-2) was hit by a pitch, stole second, and then scored. Heil (2-for-3) hit a grounds rule double to center field.

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