By Sean Reilly
Luca Scarangello wasn’t sure what he could give the Richmond County Baseball Club 12U Ghost Americans in the championship game of the 12U Diamond Nation King of the Diamond Tournament.
Scarangello, the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, felt a pull in his back during action earlier in the day on Sunday at Diamond Nation.
As it turned out, he gave his team plenty.
Scarangello went 3-for-3 at the plate, including two doubles, with three runs scored and two RBI, and also pitched three scoreless innings in relief for the win as the RCBC Americans rallied to a 10-6 title-earning victory over the Diamond Jacks Super 12U in Flemington.
“I didn’t expect this,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling my greatest because my back was hurting. I tweaked it hitting or something. Once I got my first hit, I felt like I was locked in and then it didn’t really bother me.”
The RCBC Americans are now 10-0 this spring at ‘The Nation’ with a 107-29 run differential. The Staten Island team also beat the Diamond Jacks Super 12U, 11-9, in the final of the April Fool’s Tournament on April 2. They went 5-0 this weekend, outscoring the opposition, 55-13.
Like that earlier meeting, both teams brought their bats to the championship matchup on Field 6.
RCBC was coming off a 10-0 semifinal win over the FB Braves 12U that gave it close to an hour of rest time leading into the game.
The Super 12U, however, were playing only minutes after pulling off one of the most dramatic victories of the entire tournament weekend at Diamond Nation.
The Super 12U was trailing by three runs with two out and down to their last strike in the bottom of the sixth inning in their semifinal against the Connecticut Grind over at Field 2. That’s when Fenton Morrissey hit a three-run home run to tie the score, and Nick Stangota followed with a walk-off blast for a 5-4 win.
The Super 12U carried that momentum into the final by scoring twice in the top of the first. Stangota walked with one out, Ryan Jezorwski singled off the base of the fence in left field, Harry Politi drew a two-out walk to load the bases and Henry Kusant hit a two-run single to center.
RCBC displayed its toughness by scoring three times in the bottom of the inning. Jace Lawless led off and walked on a full count. He stole second and scored when Scarangello singled to center. Tyler Bassett followed that with a two-run homer to left center for a 3-2 lead. RCBC added two more hits to put runners on second and third with nobody out, but could not add additional scoring.
The Super 12U struck for three runs with two out in the second. Morrissey singled in the tying run, and Stangota followed with a two-run home run to left field. The Super 12U added another run in the third, when Politi walked and later scored on a fielder’s choice ground out from Jordan Vesey, for a 6-3 lead.
RCBC got two runs back in the bottom of the inning, on RBI singles from Vincenzo Novello and Nicholas Bianco.
The game then turned when RCBC erupted for five runs with one out in the bottom of the fifth.
Lawless started the rally by drawing a walk. He stole second and scored when Scarangello doubled for a 6-6 tie.
The Super 12U issued an intentional walk to Bassett, but next batter Novello was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Richie Rainero, who had singled and doubled in his prior at-bats.
Rainero followed with a double to right center that scored two for an 8-6 lead.
“It felt good to get that hit,” he said. “I was looking for something where I could hit a line drive.”
Bianco followed with an RBI single to left field, and the final run off the inning scored on a balk.
Scarangello then pitched a 1-2-3 top of the sixth, getting the final out on a strikeout, to secure the championship.
Scarangello, in his three innings of relief, allowed two hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
“I was probably prouder of my pitching,” he said. “My pitches were working, My curveball and fastball, so I kept them off-balance. We’ve faced them before, they’re a really good team and tough competition, so it’s great to win.”
Lawless, who walked twice and scored two runs in the final, and Novello who was 2-for-2 with the hit by pitch, along with two runs and one RBI, were named co-MVPS of the tournament.