DJack Fenton Morrissey hit a HR on the first pitch he saw and finished 3-for-3 with three RBI.
By Rich Bevensee
The Diamond Jacks Super 12U squad has spent the spring and summer overwhelming opponents with its potent offense – averaging 10 runs per-game to be precise – so clutch hitting really hasn’t come into play very often.
On Saturday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington, these young Diamond Jacks got the chance to prove how well they can handle a tight ballgame.
The upset-minded Connecticut Wolfpack came down from Bridgeport and twice took a lead on the host. But the bats of Fenton Morrissey and Ryan Jezorwski enabled the Diamond Jacks to bounce back each time.
Morrissey and Jezorwski combined to drive in all six runs and the Diamond Jacks came from behind twice to earn a 6-4 pool play victory over the Wolfpack in the 12U Youth World Series at ‘The Nation.’
“If you told me we would let up four runs in a 12U baseball game, that’s saying something,” Diamond Jacks coach Mark Crawford said. “I think our team is actually more fit for close games because the pitching is good and the defense is good. That’s all I worry about. The hitting, the runs, that doesn’t show me anything. The bottom line is we had a good win and we just got better.”
Later on Saturday. The Diamond Jacks defeated FBA Jays National 14-2 to improve to 2-0 in pool play and 35-9-1 overall. The Diamond Jacks have two more games remaining, on Sunday at 11:40 a.m. against the South Jersey Young Guns, and on Monday at 10 a.m. against 3Up3Down Red.
Morrissey, the Diamond Jacks’ leadoff hitter and shortstop, homered on the very first pitch he saw and finished 3-for-3 with a three RBI and two runs scored.
The home run was not his biggest hit. With the Diamond Jacks clinging to a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Morrisey stroked a two-out single to score Nico Comiskey and give the hosts a huge insurance run.
“We got some timely hits, and that last one was huge,” Crawford said.
“In a close game there’s more pressure but there’s also more opportunity,” Morrissey said. “It’s fun baseball when it’s close, and it translates to the big field,which is important because if every run counts, then it will count on the big field because it’s harder.”
That’s also a pretty intuitive observation for a 12 year-old.
J.J. Nielsen is greeted by his Wolfpack teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the first inning.
Jezorwski also drove in three runs, one on a first-inning groundout and two more on a third-inning double.
The Diamond Jacks this year have scored 462 runs in 45 games, yet Wolfpack coach Chris Fournier said he was not surprised to see his ballclub keep the Diamond Jacks within reach.
“We try to focus on getting ahead in the count by mixing breaking balls for strikes, playing team defense, and capitalizing on situational hitting – man on second, two out, and man on third, less than two out – and not wasting opportunities,” Fournier said. “If you do those three things you’re gonna be in ball games regardless of who you’re playing against.”
Connecticut put the Diamond Jacks on their heels from the outset. Colton Fournier singled to get the Wolfpack started in the top of the first and J.J. Nielsen jacked an opposite-field, two-run homer, his 19th, which wrapped around the right field foul pole for a 2-0 lead.
The Diamond Jacks responded immediately, as Morrissey swung at the first pitch he saw and belted a solo homer over the right-center field fence, his 10th of the season. Nick Stangota followed with a single, stole second and scored on Jezorwski’s groundout to tie the game at 2-2.
The Wolfpack took its second lead in the top of the third, when Ryan Schnider blasted a solo homer well over the 240-foot fence in center field. It was Schnider’s 11th of the season.
As the Diamond Jacks have proven before, they don’t wait around long to answer a challenge. In the bottom of the third, Andrew Finarelli doubled and Morrissey tied the game by driving him in with an RBI single.
Stangota followed with a single to center which was inches from a home run – it bounced off the yellow plastic which tops the fence. Jezorwski drove him and Morrissey in with a double to the right-center gap for a 5-3 lead.
The Wolfpack inched within a run in the top of the fourth when Caeden Timmeny reached on an error, moved to second on a Patrtick Roarty walk, advanced to third on a textbook sacrifice bunt by Trip Keyes, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Avik Chauhan.
“We pretty much bunt top to bottom when the situation calls for it,” Fournier said. “We wanted to continue to put pressure on them and not let the game get away from us. We got a sac fly and kept the game close, and all you want is an opportunity to win the game.”
Diamond Jacks starter Jordan Vesey allowed four runs on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts over three innings. Cam Glovas, who relieved Vesey two batters into the fourth, pitched three scoreless, hitless innings, issued two walks, hit a batters and struck out two.
For the Wolfpack, Brian Sine gave up five runs on six hits and one walk over three innings. Nielsen pitched two innings and allowed one run on two hits and one walk.