By Sean Reilly
Gavin Snell has had to make space in his room for all of the awards he’s brought home from Diamond Nation over the past year, and he’s proud and respectful of each and every one.
“It’s special to play here,” he said. “It just feels better.”
Snell plays for the NY Dynasty 10U, which continued a string of remarkable success at ‘The Nation’ by defeating a very tough opponent from Virginia, Stars Baseball Rubin, 5-3, to win the Memorial Day Blast, Powered By Victus, on Monday night in Flemington.
The championship was the fourth in five tournaments this spring at Diamond Nation for the Staten Island-based Dynasty. They won their pool in the fifth event, but the final was rained out. The team boasts an 18-2-1 record.
Dating back to last year, the Dynasty also won the 9U Memorial Day Blast before returning in the fall as a 10U team to capture the Slugfest Tournament championship.
The Memorial Day Blast was the team’s final tournament of the spring. The players also compete in Little League ball in Staten Island, and they’ll now focus on All-Star season before coming back to Diamond Nation as an 11U team in the fall.
“This was a great spring and I can’t wait to come back in the fall,” said Jake Romero, who pitched a complete game to earn the win in the final.
Winning on Monday night was hardly a sure thing. In fact, the Dynasty was the lower seed and visiting team against Stars Baseball, which entered with a 4-0 weekend record and an imposing 45-1 run differential. The talented squad had only two prior losses all spring, and like the NY Dynasty, was taking part in its last event before embarking on All-Star season.
The Dynasty took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, when A.J. Sipas doubled to left center with one out and then scored when tournament MVP Rob Woodhouse hit an opposite field stand-up double to right field.
Stars Baseball countered with a bunt hit by Spencer Franklin that tied the score in the second inning, and it went up, 2-1, courtesy of a two-out RBI double to right center by Eli Noker in the third.
Nick Romano scored on a wild pitch with one out in the fourth to tie the game for the Dynasty.
Then came the pivotal top of the fifth, when the boys from Staten Island used their aggressiveness on the bases to score three times for a 5-2 lead. Zach Althoff led off with a walk and advanced on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, Dean Scarangello also walked.
With Joey Barone at the plate, the runners moved up a base on a double steal after the Stars tried a pickoff play at second base. A wild pitch during the at-bat brought in Althoff with the go-ahead run and sent Scarangello to third. Barone walked on a full count and stole second.
Snell was up next, and his single to right field delivered a run, with the trailing runner erased at the plate. Snell wound up at second base, and he scored when Romano reached on an error.
“I needed a hit in that situation, and wanted to set an example,” Snell said.
The Stars, however, were far from done. Sending up the top of the order in the bottom of the inning, Dominic Sartori led off with a triple to right center, and he scored when No. 2 man Wyatt Kaufman hit a sacrifice fly. The Stars used an error, single by Declan Hutchinson and fielder’s choice out, followed by a double steal, to put runners on second and third with two out. Romero retired the next batter on a ground out to third to maintain the lead.
The Dynasty went down 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth, and the Stars began the bottom of the inning with a walk to Aaron Kressen.
The play of the game followed. A hard grounder was hit to Romano at third, who picked it cleanly and threw to Snell at second for an out. Snell then fired to John Iacono at first base to complete an impressive double play. Romero struck out the next batter to end the game.
Romero allowed five hits for the win, with six strikeouts and three walks.
“This was pretty tough,” Romero said. “We just went out there with a great mentality, thinking we were going to win. We wanted to go out on top. We felt really good going into this game. That double play was great. It’s really good when my teammates make plays like that.”
“We just dominated this spring,” Snell. “And we definitely got better.”