Alex DiPierro drives a three-run double into left field for Full Count.
By Rich Bevensee
Tristan Ovalle had been cautioned that he couldn’t throw his two-seamer past the fastball-hitting Diamond Jacks.
But Full Count 14U coach Matt Belford also knew Ovalle had exceptional control of his changeup and curveball, so the plan was to mix in all three.
Keeping the Diamond Jacks Super 13U club guessing was what allowed Ovalle to pitch a three-hit gem while his team backed him with a four-run fifth inning to close out a 9-1 victory in the 14U Fall Harvest on Friday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“I was pounding the zone today. Definitely my best game of the fall,” Ovalle said. “I’m a two-seam dominant pitcher but I do throw changeups to the righties and I throw a lot of curveballs to the lefties. Just get ground balls for easy outs.”
“He kept them off balance, and that’s what you have to do with those guys (Diamond Jacks), ‘cause if they sit on fastballs they will absolutely hammer you,” Belford said. “He got changeups and curveballs over for strikes and his fastball was just enough for them to swing at.”
Ovalle retired the first six batters he faced before the seventh reached on an error. He allowed one unearned run on three hits with no walks and one strikeout.
A familiar site: Full Count’s Chris Tortorella rounding third. He singled, doubled and scored twice.
“He was locating his fastball and offspeed pitches at the right time in the right spots,” said Full Count catcher A.J. Huber. “His curveball was good and his change up at the end of the game was good, too.”
Ovalle’s toughest test was a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, when he gave up an unearned run with one out, then surrendered two singles with two out to load the bases. A shallow fly out ended the danger.
“When he came in after the bases loaded inning, I told him to keep pitching with confidence because they’re still trying to guess what’s coming,” Belford said.
Ovalle, 13, said he began experimenting with offspeed pitches last year, with immediate success.
“I started implementing it around then. I had a good feel for the curveball so I just kept throwing it.” Ovalle said.
The biggest hit of the game was a three-run double by Full Count’s smallest player, No. 10 hitter Alex DePierro. Full Count took a 1-0 lead in the second inning and loaded the bases for DiPierro with one out. On an 0-2 count, DePierro laced a line drive which landed inches inside the third base line and cleared the bases for a 4-0 lead.
DePierro said a late-summer adjustment allowed him to get the big hit. He said Belford pointed out he was dropping his back shoulder, and he worked on sitting back on pitches.
“One for the little guys,” Belford said. “He doesn’t know he’s the smallest guy on the team. He knew a fastball was coming with two strikes because we told him, ‘Guys don’t respect you. They’re going to come right at you.’ That was a big-time hit.”
Luiggi Sacca got Full Count on the board first when he reached on an error and eventually scored on an infield error on Darien Quinceno’s grounder. Two batters later, DiPierro emptied the bases with his double.
Huber added another run in the third for Full Count with an RBI single. The Diamond Jacks got their lone run in the bottom of the third when Nick Stangota reached on an error and eventually scored on Andrew Finarelli’s fielder’s choice.
In the fifth, Full Count rallied for four runs on two hits, a walk and an error. Chris Tortorella doubled home a run, Sacca tripled into the left field corner to drive in two runs, and Huber’s ground out made it 9-1.
Later on Friday, Full Count tied the Marlboro Mustangs 3-3, while the Diamond Jacks lost a tough 3-2 decision to Wladyka American.
Both teams wind up pool play on Saturday at 2:15 p.m., as Full Count faces Wladyka and the Diamond Jacks take on Marlboro.