Polanco’s new approach boosts Hustle Baseball to 10U HR Classic crown

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 3, 2024

By Sean Reilly

One of the best things about competing at Diamond Nation is how, no matter the age of the player, it offers an excellent opportunity to put behind-the-scenes training to work. 

Matthew Polanco plays for Hustle Baseball Academy 10U, and he came to Flemington over the weekend having worked recently on his approach at the plate. 

“I fixed my swing a little,” he said. “My bat was dropping a lot, and then when I pulled back it was pointing at the pitcher. So I stopped doing that. I worked on pulling back without pointing to the pitcher, and I swung better and put the ball in play more.” 

Polanco went 6-for-9 on the weekend, hitting safely in each of four games, with two triples, a double and grand slam, along with nine RBI, to earn tournament MVP honors as Hustle Baseball 10U captured the championship of the 10U Home Run Classic, Powered By Victus, in Flemington. 

The capper was a 5-1 triumph over the Diamond Jacks 10U in the final on Sunday afternoon.

It was the team’s third title of the season, and first at ‘The Nation.’ Hustle Baseball had been runner-up at the King of the Diamond tournament in April. It is now 22-7 on the season, with eight straight wins.

Winning a title at the Flemington facility, and doing so with a 4-0 record and 45-5 run differential, raised the team’s success to another level. 

“It’s special,” said Polanco, who also pitched a three-hitter to defeat Bergen Crush, 15-2, in the semifinals. “It means more to win here. I like the competition and the people.”

Nico Bertuglia went the distance in the final, allowing six hits with 11 strikeouts and no walks. He threw 78 pitches, 56 of them for strikes.

He allowed a leadoff triple to Ben Fonseca in the top of the first inning, but retired the next three batters, including two on strikeouts.

Matthew Polanco of Hustle Baseball 10U was named the 10U Home Run Classic MVP.

Hustle Baseball took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Logan DiGirolamo led off with a walk, and with two out, J.J. Marshall hit a two-run home run to right field. 

Polanco led off the second inning with a single, and he came around to score on a single by Ansh Jariwala with two out. 

The lead extended to 4-0 when Anthony Camacho-Osorio delivered an RBI single with two out in the third. 

The Diamond Jacks, who were helped by two stellar, run-saving plays by third baseman Ryan Beardsley, scored in the top of the fifth. Wes Hoelper singled with one out, and after advancing on a groundout, he came home when Carter Cust stayed with a two-strike pitch and took it the opposite way to right-center field for an RBI double. 

DiGirolamo added an RBI double for Hustle Baseball with one out in the fifth to score Jariwala, who led off with a walk. 

“Polanco carried us offensively,” Hustle Baseball coach Lou Fernandez said. “Many other kids played well also, but he just put together better numbers. He had a great tournament.”

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