By Will Harrigan
The final of a large-scale travel baseball tournament is not supposed to be an efficient, one-sided clinic put on by the eventual champion.
The PA Shockers 2024 club clearly didn’t get the memo on Friday afternoon.
Coming into the final tilt of the Blue Chip Prospects 16U tournament’s Red Division bracket, the Shockers capped off their week in emphatic fashion, mercy-ruling Long Island Titans Asch by a 10-0 count at Diamond Nation.
Penn State commit John DiGregorio garnered MVP honors. DiGregorio of Gill St. Bernards is the Shockers catcher and one of four New Jersey players on the squad.
Not only finishing their tournament a perfect 6-0, the Shockers racked up the largest run differential amongst anyone else in the field, outscoring their opponents 43-11. The Long Islanders finished off a fine tournament of their own with a 4-2 mark.
“This is a testament to our guys and the summer they’ve had. Our season is winding down and I think it’s been very successful,” said Shockers coach Dan Brown. “Getting an early lead is a staple of what we’ve done all year, and our pitching has kept us in front.”
Putting up seven runs in the first inning not only established an early lead for the winners, but just about sealed their title fairly quickly.
Let’s get right to the top of the first.
With one out, Matt Fattore, Cooper Natisin, and DiGregorio reached on walks, spelling immediate trouble for the Titans.
Lehigh commit Zack Wendell, also of Dave Pasquale’s Gill St. Bernard’s club, singled in the game’s first run to start the rally. Dustin McGuinness would promptly follow that up a batter later by singling in two runs, quickly running the lead to 3-0.
Later in the inning, Danny Schwalm of Quakertown High (PA) would add another backbreaker for the Titans, tripling in two runs for the fifth and sixth runs. Kross Howarth would ground him in a batter later to complete a first inning swarming by the champions.
Matt Atchley would make a Grayson Weikel triple count in the second, singling him in a batter later. DiGregorio would walk and his Gill teammate Wendell brought him in on a single after DiGregorio stole second.
“He’s been mashing the ball all week, really all summer. He’s the guy that makes us go,” said Brown of DiGregorio. “He deserved the MVP after catching all week as well.”
Matthew Nowlan tripled to leadoff the second and Brian Cadieux doubled to start things off in the third for the Titans, but in both instances, Natisin was able to pitch his way out of jams by inducing a mix of short fly balls and pop-ups.
Atchley pitched a scoreless top of the fourth to seal the mercy-rule victory for the Shockers.