By Sean Reilly
One of the unique features about baseball is how you never know what can happen from one moment to the next.
Parker New isn’t one to disagree.
New wasn’t in the Diamond Jacks Super 14U starting lineup on Sunday night against the Morris County Cubs Navy in the final of the Diamond Nation 14 Father’s Day Classic.
The game was scoreless heading into the bottom of the fifth inning when Super 14U coaching staff had to make a couple of very related decisions.
Nick Do, the team’s starting pitcher, had been brilliant to that point, but protecting his arm was more important than continuing on.
Kevin Kelly, who had been in the lineup as a DH, was thus going to pitch the sixth inning, so he needed to warm up in the bullpen as his team batted.
New was the choice to hit, and the situation became even more important since Neo Diaz began the frame by drawing a walk.
New responded to it all by delivering the biggest hit of the game, an RBI triple that sent the Diamond Jacks Super 14U to a 2-0 triumph in Flemington.
“I found out when they told me I was on-deck,” New said. “I had never been in that situation before. I was trying to hit something hard to put the ball in play to get something going for my team.”
The ball traveled to the gap in right-center field, scoring Diaz easily and allowing New to reach third standing up.
“It was a low inside pitch,” said New, who bats from the left side. “The two pitches before, he gave me outside, and he came in on me with the third one, I just turned on it. When I met coach Travis (Anderson) at third base, I felt really good.”
The Super 14U ended the inning with just the one run, since New was erased at the plate on a one-out fielder’s choice grounder to third base.
The Super 14U added an insurance run in the sixth when Nikolas Holot led off with an infield single to third base and later scored on a ground out to the pitcher off the bat of Ryan Wetmore.
The story for much of the game was the pitching duel between the two starting pitchers – Michael Paxos for the Cubs and Do for the Diamond Jacks.
Paxos allowed six hits with one strikeout and three walks before leaving in the fifth after Connor Bresler followed New’s triple with a base on balls.
Do yielded two hits, with six strikeouts and two walks, which came back-to-back to start the third inning. But in that situation, the first base runner was erased attempting to steal by catcher Wetmore, so Do never faced a situation of having more than one Cubs runner on base.
“This was definitely the best outing I’ve had this year,” Do said. “I just felt confident in all my pitches, fastball and curveball, throwing for strikes and in good spots. They were a tough team and it was a pitchers duel, so I needed to be on my A-game tonight. I had to be at my best to match him. That definitely hyped me up.”
Kelly followed by allowing two hits, with two strikeouts and one walk, over his two-inning relief stint.
The championship completed a 5-0 weekend for the Super 14U with a 45-9 run difference. The team now has a 19-3-2 record this year on its home turf, with three tournament championships.
The Super 14U had eight hits in the game, with six coming from the first three batters in the order. Holot was 1-for-2 with a walk, Justin Labrador 2-for-3 and Jacob Lilienthal 3-for-3 out of the third slot.