Gavin McIntyre ripped a single to left field with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning to deliver the decisive run as the Evoshield Canes edged Rising Stars Gold, 2-1, in the 14U Grand Slam championship game on Sunday night at Diamond Nation.
McIntyre actually drove in both Canes runs to support an outstanding pitching performance by teammates Owen Paino and Koy Swanson, who combined to three-hit the Rising Stars. Luke Costello triggered both rallies with singles and scored both runs.
Costello was named the 14U Grand Slam tournament Most Valuable Player.
“Gavin had both big hits for us in the final,” said Canes coach Brad Scott. “He really came up big.”
This Maryland version of the excellent Canes’ program has won eight of its 10 tournaments this summer and early fall and reached the final in all 10 of those events.
“We expect to be ranked in the Top 30 in the country when the Perfect Game’s rankings came out soon,” said Scott. “We put a brand new team together, so to develop to the point we are ranked nationally is pretty impressive.”
Paino, a righthander, and Swanson, a lefty, were pretty impressive in the Grand Slam final, too. Paino started and permitted the lone run on three hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked three. He turned a 1-1 game over to Swanson, who got the win thanks to McIntyre’s clutch single and his own fastball and nasty curveball. Swanson struck out four and walked two in two hitless innings of work.
When asked what was working best for him, Paino said, “My defense, mostly. I couldn’t find the strike zone at first. My curveball did work well, thankfully, since my fastball wasn’t going well.”
Paino’s early wildness with his fastball actually helped him get three early strikeouts with his curveball, a pitch that often tailed out of the reach of swinging Rising Stars batters.
Paino was able to get ahead of hitters in his last three innings when he permitted just a single base runner. “When you get ahead in the count you can get in hitters’ heads and, at that point, any pitch will work.”
“Owen threw a well-pitched game,” said coach Scott. “He mixes his pitches well and really competes.”
The Rising Stars struck first, breaking through with a run in the top of the second on Jacoby Sauer’s RBI fielder’s choice grounder to first base. Chris Olah led off the inning with a single to left field, moved to second on Aidan Almeyda’s single to left, advanced to third on Ray Shiavo’s fielder’s choice grounder and scored on Sauer’s grounder.
Lefthander Logan Higgins pitched a heck of a game himself in, albeit, a losing effort. Higgins would grind through a bit of an adventurous outing, gamely stranding 10 Canes runners. He permitted two runs on seven hits over six innings, striking out eight and walking five. But Higgins kept the Rising Stars in the game right to the last out.
The Rising Stars got the tying run aboard in the top of the seventh courtesy of Almeyda’s one-out walk. Swanson, however, struck out the next two batters to end the game. He, in fact, struck out the side in the seventh.
It was an extremely well played final with excellent defense to complement the nice job done by all three pitchers.
Olah led off the fourth with what appeared to be a laser of a single to center field. But Brian Scott, already playing shallow, charged in, fielded the shot on one hop and fired to first to just nip Olah. Shiavo made a nice play in the fourth, charging in on a shallow fly to right field by the Canes’ Cory Allman. But the play of the night may have been pulled off by Rising Stars third baseman Matt Merced. Merced made a flat out diving catch to his left on a shot by Irv Fisher leading off he fifth.
Evoshield Canes (4-0) outscored their tournament opponents 24-4. The Rising Stars Gold (4-1) held a 32-11 runs advantage on its opponents.
Grand Slam recaps
Tri-State Arsenal 17, NJ Renegades 7
Tri-State Arsenal defeated the NJ Renegades, 17-7, in the 12U Grand Slam championship game. Eddie Rosado of Tri-State Arsenal was named the 12U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Tri-State Arsenal (4-0) outscored its opponents 47-9. The NJ Renegades (3-1) held a 34-29 runs advantage on its opponents.
Diamond Jacks Super 13U 8, Tri-State Arsenal National 7
The Diamond Jacks Super 13U squad defeated Tri-State Arsenal National, 8-7, in the 13U Grand Slam championship game. Jaden Capindica of Super 13U was named the 13U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Diamond Jacks Super 13U (4-0) outscored its opponents 43-11. Tri-State Arsenal National (2-1-1) held a 26-20 runs advantage on its opponents.
Bronx Bombers 16U 9, Bronx Bombers 15U 2
The Bronx Bombers 16U defeated its sister club, the Bronx Bombers 15U, 9-2, in the 16U Grand Slam championship game. Stanley Cedeno of the Bronx Bombers 16U was named the 16U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Bronx Bombers 16U (5-0) outscored their opponents 37-8. The Bronx Bombers 15U (4-1) held a 24-14 runs advantage on its opponents.