Novello’s return lifts RCBC Ghost Americans to 13U Firecracker title

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 2, 2024

By Sean Reilly

There’s something about Diamond Nation that brings out the best in the Richmond County Baseball Club Ghost 13U Americans. 

The crew from Staten Island, who’ve regularly won tournaments at the Flemington facility dating back to their small-field days, returned over the weekend for the Firecracker 13U Red Division tournament. 

This event was no different, as RCBC finished off a magnificent three days at ‘The Nation’ by gaining a 4-1 victory over the Mid-State Mavericks Black 13U for another first-place finish. 

RCBC won three games on Monday to complete a 6-0 weekend that included a 66-2 run differential.

RCBC’s last tournament at the Diamond Nation was the 13U King of the Diamond in April, when it went 5-0 to capture the event. Last year, it won multiple 12U events to establish itself as one of the best teams to compete on the grounds.

All that success made one player eager to compete in the tournament. 

Vincenzo (Pork Chop) Novello, a mainstay on the team, missed two weeks in June with a back injury. He saw limited action in the team’s prior tournament two weeks ago, but made a full-fledged return over the weekend. 

His presence in the lineup, mostly in the second spot in the order, and also at catcher, earned him tournament MVP honors.

Pork Chop Novello of RCBC Ghost 13U Americans was named the 13U Red Firecracker MVP.

“We played well,” he said. “I was just returning from an injury, and it felt really good to be back.” 

One thing that’s pretty common for RCBC is that Luca Scarangello is its big-game pitcher. He got the assignment in the final against the Mavericks, a Pennsylvania team that entered the final with a 4-1 weekend record. 

Scarangello pitched six innings, giving up one run on four hits, with four strikeouts and three walks. Kaydn Salfarlie allowed one hit in a scoreless seventh inning to close out the win. 

RCBC scored single runs in the second, third and  fifth innings to build a 3-0 lead. 

Tyler Bassett led off the second inning with a triple when the right fielder couldn’t locate the ball in the sun. Richie Raineri followed with an RBI groundout to second. 

Jace Lawless reached on a one-out error in the third. He stole second and moved to third on a passed ball before scoring on Scarangello’s single to center in which the outfielder almost made a shoestring catch. 

Santino Yulfo singled to center to start the fifth, and moved to second on a balk. He then took third on a passed ball. After an out, Lawless hit an RBI single to left field. 

The Mavericks scored in the sixth inning. Hurt Brown led off with a single to right field, and stole second with one out. He came home when Cole Hubler singled to left field with two out. 

RCBC tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Bassett (2-for-3) hit a one-out single to right, Raineri walked and Dom Napolitano singled beyond shortstop to load the bases. Salfarlie was then hit by a pitch to score Bassett.

Scarangello was in control on the mound. He recorded nine outs on ground balls, including three on pitcher-to-first comebackers. 

“They were a good team and they hit the ball,” he said. “I just went out there and did as much as I could for my team. I was pitching mostly for contact, and I trust the defense to make every play.” 

He was also happy to play back at Diamond Nation. 

“I don’t know what it is, but we just play better here,” he said. “It works.”

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