By Sean Reilly
Whenever EEP Bandits Blue and Bakes Brewers meet up on the baseball field, a good game usually follows.
The two teams, who are among the best 10U outfits that compete at Diamond Nation, advanced to the championship of the 10U Boys of Summer tournament on Sunday afternoon.
The difference in this matchup was EEP Bandits Blue pitcher Jarred Eckhart, who stood out on the mound and at the plate as the Brooklyn team earned the title with a 5-3 victory.
Eckhart, a right-hander who earned tournament MVP honors, kept the potent Bakes Brewers lineup in check by allowing three runs, all in the third inning, over four innings of work.
At the plate, he led off the second inning with a full-count walk that launched a two-run frame, and his grounds rule RBI double to left field corner tied the score with two out in the third.
Eckhart’s approach at all times is to keep things simple.
“I just try to throw strikes,” he said. “I also have a lot of trust in my teammates to make plays. And when I’m up at-bat, I’m just trying to see ball, hit ball.”
His base on balls in the bottom of the second inning was followed by Daniel Coffey being hit by a pitch. Matty Paul grounded out to second base, with the runners advancing into scoring position.
Nikko Elefterakis then had an RBI groundout to second, and Anthony Coffey dropped an RBI single into shallow center field.
The Monmouth County-based Bakes Brewers, whose season at ‘The Nation’ already included two championships and two runner-up finishes, responded with three runs in the top of the third.
Owen Varua walked with one out, and Nate Waitzel singled to center. Tyler Baker followed with a two-run double over the head of the left fielder. Brady Kuhmann then hit a ball that couldn’t be corralled by a running center fielder in the right-center gap, which scored Baker for a 3-2 lead.
Jarred Eckhart of EEP Bandits was named 10U Boys of Summer tournament MVP.
The EEP Bandits Blue took the lead with a two-out rally in its half of the third.
Jayjay Rodriguez reached on an infield hit that deflected off the right side of the pitcher’s mound. Amir Rodriguez singled to center, and Eckhart followed with his double that landed a couple of feet inside the foul line in the left field corner and bounced over the fence.
EEP Bandits Blue broke the tie in the bottom of the fourth.
Paul led off with an infield hit near second base, and Elefterakis singled to center. Anthony Coffey was safe on a fielder’s choice which forced out Elefterakis at second. With runners now on the corners, Ethan Galarza was safe on an error that scored the go-ahead run. A.J. Kessler then grounded out to second to score an insurance run.
Daniel Coffey relieved Eckhart in the fifth inning, and he retired all six batters that he faced to close out the championship.