By Sean Reilly
The NY Dynasty 11U is easily one of the most successful teams that competes at Diamond Nation.
After making their mark as a title-winning 9U squad in 2022, the group from Staten Island went on a championship-capturing rampage earlier this year on the 10U level.
Having aged up for the fall season, the NY Dynasty returned to Flemington this weekend for the first time as an 11U team for the Grand Slam tournament.
As they’ve done so often in the past, they went home tournament winners, after rallying from a four-run deficit to gain a 6-5 triumph over the Diamond Jacks 11U.
The Dynasty victory came down to two things: Double steals, and double plays.
The Dynasty, always an aggressive team, ran even more, since the move from 10U to 11U means an extra ten feet between bases. Most catchers are still adjusting to accurately throwing with the added distance, a point that’s been schooled to the Dynasty players by their coaches. The aggressiveness resulted in a couple of outs, but it’s a risk they are very willing to take.
As for the double plays, the Dynasty turned three, including a game-ending DP with the tying run on third base.
“Whenever we come here, we dominate,” said Gavin Snell, who was named tournament MVP, and is having an extra shelf placed in his room to showcase all of the team and individual awards that he’s collected at ‘The Nation,’ where Fields 2 and 6 feel like a second home.
Dating back to 2022, the Dynasty won the 9U Memorial Day Blast before returning in that fall as a 10U team to capture the Slugfest Tournament championship.
This spring, the Dynasty won four championships in five events. They finished first in their pool in the fifth tournament, but that final was rained out.
The 4-0 showing this weekend raises their overall 2023 record at Diamond Nation to 22-2-1.
“We know how to play here,” Snell said. “9U we won everything, 10U we won everything. 11U, we’re starting off new and fresh.”
“This is the best place you can play,” Dynasty coach Anthony Vigliotti said. “The competition is a little steeper when you come here, so they’re into playing and are ready to go. After the spring that they had, they know that they won a lot, so they also come trying to defend what they feel like is theirs.”
Snell went 2-for-2 with a walk in the final and hit over .700 during the weekend. He added a clutch pitching stint in a pool game. Snell was also the batter in the bottom of the fifth when the most important play of the game occurred.
With one out and two runs already scored through daring base running, Snell came to the plate with Jake Romero on second and Dean Scarangello occupying first. A double steal attempt resulted in a throw toward third. Romero was safe, and continued home when the throw went into left field. Scarangello read the play and kept going from second to third, and when the throw to the plate was slightly off-line, he kept going toward home, and was safe with the decisive run.
The first two runs of that inning, which began with the Diamond Jacks ahead, 5-2, were scored in similar fashion.
Gavin Snell of NY Dynasty was named 11U Grand Slam Most Valuable Player.
Jason Rocchio led off the frame with a single into the shallow center field area, just beyond the reach of the converging shortstop, second baseman and center fielder. He then stole second with leadoff man Zach Althoff at the plate.
With Rocchio taking off toward third, Althoff singled past shortstop. Rocchio made a successful dash toward the plate to score, and Althoff took second on the throw. He never stopped running, and continued on to third. Romero followed with a single to left field that scored Althoff to get the Dynasty within a run. Scarangello was up next, and he reached by getting hit by a pitch. The decisive double steal came after a fly out to center field.
“We try to keep pressure on the other team,” Vigliotti said. “We always take chances. I’ll take a chance every time. They don’t always work out, but we try to make things happen.”
The Dynasty, which turned double plays in the fourth and fifth innings, took their first lead of the game into the top of the sixth, which produced even more drama.
Reliever Nick Romano, who worked the last three innings, retired the first batter on a ground out to shortstop. Chase Samuelson was up next for Diamond Jacks, and he hit a liner that went past the reach of the second baseman and traveled all the way to the gap in right center for a triple.
The next batter ripped a line drive that was caught by Althoff, the Dynasty shortstop. He threw over to third base for a double play that ended the game.
The matchup against the Diamond Jacks was one of the few in which Dynasty trailed, especially late in the game.
The Diamond Jacks took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second on a one-out, two-run hit to center field by Bryson Davis.
The Dynasty got a run back in the bottom of the inning when a first-and-third double steal try resulted in an out at second as Joe Barone scored from third.
The Diamond Jacks countered that with a three-run third for a 5-1 lead.
Cooper Ralston led off and was hit by a pitch. He stole second and moved to third when Ben Pasuco singled to shortstop. Pasuco stole second, and both scored when Nick Penna reached on an error. Penna later scored when Brayden Gillen grounded out to third.
But in the end, the NY Dynasty celebrated another title. They’ll be back at Diamond Nation one more time this fall, for the Halloween Mash, Oct. 27-29.
“We just keep fighting when we play here,” Snell said. “We play to our full potential.”