Jimmy Bell’s leadoff double ignited a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh and Noah Sluzalis and Lucas Ream drove in a run apiece as Renegades AC edged Northeast Supreme Black, 5-3, in the Independence Weekend Firecracker at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
It was the first Diamond Nation visit for Bell, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and the Northeast Supreme Black 14U and they cashed in with a 6-0-1 performance and the championship.
“We came in excited and looking to win a championship and we got it,” said Bell, who went 2-for-3 in the final. The catcher also helped the Renegades’ pitchers navigate a difficult Northeast Supreme Black lineup. “We knew we could hold our own here and we did.”
Bell jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Northeast Supreme pitcher Carter Grande and drove it over the head of center fielder Rene Vega for a double.
“My nickname is Sparky,” said Bell, the Renegades No. 3 hitter last night, “and I wanted to provide a spark there. I’ve been hitting leadoff my whole life, so I felt good in that spot.”
Ethan Powell then dropped down a pretty sac bunt as Bell’s courtesy runner Aaron Vasquez took third easily. Sluzalis followed with a bouncer to shortstop that scored Vasquez with the go-ahead run. Vasquez got such a great jump off of third base that shortstop Jayden Onofre had no choice but to throw to first. But the throw got away and Sluzalis was safe.
Cole Yeager lofted a shallow fly to left-center field that Vega made an incredible sliding catch on for the second out. Vega raced in and made a sliding grab as he was prone on the turf. But Ream made sure no one would catch his shot, a laser into the right-center field gap for a triple that drove in Sluzalis with an important insurance run.
Northeast Supreme (5-2) had rallied for two runs in the top of the fourth to tie the game at 3-3. Ben Raspanti led off and beat out a bouncer to the left side. He quickly stole second and scored on Kaden Miller’s single to center field. Miller took second on the throw home.
The Renegades brought in lefty reliever Ethan Barnes, who settled things down quickly, but not before Jake Attard reached on an error and DeMetri Bardatsos tied the game on a sac fly to left.
Barnes proved a chore for the Northeast Supreme lineup as he shut them out on two hits over the final four innings, striking out two and walking none. The Renegades defense chipped in nicely to Bornes’ effort. Second baseman Yeager turned a lined drive into a 4-3 inning-ending double play in the fifth and shortstop Landon Arnold made two fine plays in the middle of the diamond to get the last out of the sixth and the first out of the seventh.
Northeast Supreme got on the board first in the top of the second when Mason Nagle singled, reached second on a balk, stayed there on an infield single by Vega and raced home on Chris Gantaifis’ two-out single through the left side.
The Renegades answered with two runs in the bottom of the second, the rally triggered when Yeager shot a leadoff double down the left field line. Ream then hit a slow roller to the left side and reached when the throw got away. Yeager scored all the way from second on the play to tie the game at 1-1. Kaydn McMullen singled to center field with one out and Michael Griffie followed with a two-out single to right to give the Renegades their first lead at 2-1.
The Renegades went ahead 3-1 in the third on an ugly sequence of plays. Arnold led off and reached on an infield error. He took second when Powell also reached on an error with one out. Arnold and Powell moved up a base on a balk with Miller at the plate. Finally, Arnold scored on a wild pitch with Yeager batting.
Righthander Carter Grande started and went the distance for Northeast Supreme. He certainly deserved a better fate considering he permitted just two earned runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out six, walked none and hit a batter. Grande retired seven straight batters at one point, before … Brown singled with two outs in the fifth.
NOTES: The Bell family certainly has great baseball karma considering they live in the home formerly owned by major league baseball Hall of Famer Nellie Fox, the legendary Chicago White Sox second baseman, in the Chambersburg, Pa. area. “He built the house in 1952,” said Jim Bell, Sr., one of the Renegades’ assistant coaches. … Patrick Ventimiglia and Brendan Lewis also singled for Northeast Supreme. … The Renegades outscored their tournament opponents 70-23. Northeast Supreme Black held a 58-21 runs advantage on their opponents.
Super 17 Invitational – Week 2
Five teams in the 72-team Super 17 Invitational Week 2 Powered By Victus qualified for the Super 25 Invitational. The five teams advancing, with their records and runs differential, are L.I. Body Armor Titans Quattrini (5-0, 49-6), CB Raiders (5-0, 41-6), TTS Scout (5-0, 30-6), Locked in Baseball Expos 2021 (5-0, 37-9) and L.I. Body Armor Titans DeMichael (5-0, 32-9).
Independence Weekend Firecracker
L.I. BODY ARMOR TITANS
The Long Island Body Armor Titans defeated LAB Baseball, 10-0, in the 13U Independence Weekend Firecracker championship game. Shakespeare Rodriguez and Brady DiMitrio of the Titans were named co-MVPs of the tournament. The Titans (6-0) outscored their opponents 48-9. LAB Baseball (4-1-1) held a 38-27 runs advantage on its opponents.
Finch’s Aces Stars & Stripes
FINCH’S ACES 12U GALLO
Finch’s Aces 12U Gallo defeated NJ Venom 12U, 7-2, in the 12U Finch’s Aces Stars & Stripes championship game. Elizabeth Yanni of the Finch’s Aces was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Finch’s Aces 12U Gallo (5-1) outscored its opponents 55-20. NJ Venom 12U (3-3) were outscored by their opponents 30-26.
LANGHORNE LIGHTNING 14U
Langhorne Lightning 14U defeated Chiefs Fastpitch DeRose, 2-1, in the 14U Finch’s Aces Stars & Stripes championship game. Abby Singer of Langhorne was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Langhorne Lightning 14U (5-1) outscored its opponents 30-10. Chiefs Fastpitch DeRose (4-2) held a 20-10 runs advantage on its opponents.