McGann leads DJacks to 12U Youth World Series championship

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 9, 2024

By Sean Reilly

Nate McGann had an exhausting weekend competing for the Diamond Jacks Super 12U.

But more than anything else, it was also an exhilarating one for the prime catcher and No. 3 batter for his team. 

When the Diamond Jacks faced the NY Longhorns-Perhauz in the championship game of the Diamond Nation 12U Youth World Series tournament on Monday afternoon, it was the team’s second game of the day and sixth since Friday at the tournament.

Also hand it to their opponent, the Longhorns, who gutted through four straight games on an extremely hot Monday and managed a gritty performance in the championship game.

McGann played catcher for the Super 12U in all but one game, during what was a very hot and humid weekend at ‘The Nation’ and everywhere else on the East Coast.

His work behind the plate could certainly have affected his performance in the batter’s box, but the exact opposite occurred, especially in the final contest. 

McGann went 4-for-4, with a two-run home run, three runs and three RBI, as the Diamond Jacks outlasted the resilient Longhorns, 15-9, for the title and accompanying championship rings in Flemington. 

For McGann, he also went home with the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. He hit safely in all six games during the tournament, going 12-for-18 (.667).

The Diamond Jacks went 5-1, with a 67-32 run differential. The team had to work hard to finish first in its pool, since its second game on Friday was a 15-4 loss to the Connecticut Wolfpack. That was also the one game where McGann didn’t catch. He played right field instead. 

“In my mind it was see the ball and hit the ball,” he said. “With the catching, I didn’t hydrate in one of the early games, but after that I was good. This game was a perfect way to end it, and it was pretty cool to win it after we lost. Normally when you lose a game, you’re out.”

The Diamond Jacks had to work extremely hard to overcome a tough Longhorns team. The Long Island-based group played one pool game on both Saturday and Sunday, and its final two pool games on Monday morning. The semifinals and final followed. It was a very admirable showing by the Longhorns, who went 5-1 with a 58-34 run difference.

The Diamond Jacks scored in all six innings of the final, and the Longhorns, who always seem to have an answer to a Super 12U rally, scored in five of the six.

Nate McGann of the Diamond Jacks Super 12U was named 12U Diamond Nation World Series MVP.

The Diamond Jacks, however, never trailed, and set a tone with a four-run top of the first which started with McGann’s two-run home run off the roof of the batting cage building beyond the right-center field fence at Field 2. The other runs in the first scored on a wild pitch and error. 

“The home run kept my confidence up, for sure,” McGann said.

The Longhorns got two runs back in the bottom of the inning on an error and sacrifice fly from Vincent Urena. 

The Diamond Jacks got a two-run home run from Josh Labrador to right field for a 6-2 lead in the second. 

Mason Mifsud hit an RBI single for the Longhorns in the bottom of the second, and he scored on the front end of a first-and-third play that also resulted in an out. 

McGann led off the top of the third by ripping a single that hit off the fence in left-center. Alan Pena hit an RBI double and later scored on an error, and Logan Koziupa added an RBI groundout. 

Joseph Kirch had an RBI groundout in the bottom of the third to get the Longhorns within 9-5.

The Diamond Jacks extended their lead back to five runs after Tim Donahue led off the fourth with a home run to left center. 

The Longhorns showed continued fight in the bottom of the fourth, with an RBI single from Mifsud highlighting a three-run rally that drew the Long Island team within two runs at 10-8. 

McGann had a one-out single and later scored his third run when Joseph LoPresti hit a two-run double in the fifth. 

After the Longhorns were held scoreless in the bottom of the fifth, Labrador legged out an RBI single to shortstop in the sixth. Ryan Nigro drew a bases loaded walk and McGann hit an RBI single to right for a 15-8 lead.

Ben Stamoulis homered to left field in the bottom of the sixth for the Longhorns. He had walked in his first three at-bats. 

The Diamond Jacks finished with 18 hits. Aside from McCann, Labrador went 3-for-3 with three RBI, and Pena, LoPresti and Donahue all had two hits.

Mifsud finished 3-for-3 for the Longhorns. In his team’s four games on Monday, he went 8-for-11 (.727 ) with seven RBI. 

“Every inning in this game got riskier and riskier,” McGann said. “But we pulled through.”

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