DJack Mason Matis fouled one off his foot here, but he did crush a mammoth three-run HR.
By Rich Bevensee
After three straight near misses at a 12U tournament title by losing in the championship game, it would be unfair to say that a proud baseball program like the Diamond Jacks would ever doubt its ability to bring home the hardware.
Since we’re discussing 12-year-olds, it would certainly be appropriate to wonder just how well they could bounce back from some baseball adversity.
But, as it turns out, these young guys are pretty resilient. The Diamond Jacks not only broke through last week to capture their first title, it became abundantly clear during 12U pool play at the Memorial Day Blast that the Diamond Jacks have no desire to apply the brakes to their incredible momentum.
In the first game of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader at Diamond Nation in Flemington, Cam Glovas ripped a line drive home run to rally the Diamond Jacks to a 9-1, five-inning victory over RBI Baseball American 12U. In the second game, Mason Matis crushed a towering homer which plopped on top of the scoreboard and highlighted an 11-hit attack in a 14-1, three-inning win over Team Maplewood of Fall River, Mass.
“It all goes back to confidence,” said Diamond Jacks Super 12U coach Josh Ake. “These guys were hungry and they wanted it. They talked about it all week. They were tired of finishing second. They believed they were good enough to win it and they played like it and it was awesome to see.
“And because of that, it got them excited, it gave them energy and so far this week they’re playing with that same energy.”
It was the Diamond Jacks’ first taste of action since winning the Spring Fever title at ‘The Nation’ on May 21, and the doubleheader sweep gave the Super 12U a 2-0 head start in pool play of the Memorial Day Blast. Two more emphatic wins like that and the Ake’s crew would clinch the top seed in the 12U bracket’s four-team playoff.
The Diamond Jacks face Highland Travel Baseball Bulldogs Black 12U on Sunday at 8:30 p.m., and the Pennsbury Falcons on Monday at 10 a.m. The playoffs begin at 2:15 p.m. Monday with semifinals, and the championship game is 6:30 p.m.
In their three prior second-place finishes, the Diamond Jacks lost to Rockland Elite Red in the Spring Invitational final March 19, the Rockland County Baseball Club Ghost 12U Americans in the April Fool’s final April 2 and in the King of the Diamond final April 16.
In the Spring Fever tournament, the Diamond Jacks prevailed over RCBC, 19-3, in the semifinals.
“We beat RCBC which beat us so many times before, so it was motivation to beat them. That felt great,” Matis said.
In the second game of the Diamond Jacks’ Memorial Day Blast doubleheader, it appeared Team Maplewood was up to the challenge of matching the offensively-minded Diamond Jacks by scoring in the top of the first inning. Noah Cahoon’s two-out double drove in Nick Droukas who singled.
But that Diamond Jacks offense which has been percolating since last week – actually since mid-March – was still brewing Saturday. Ryan Jezorwsi and Bryson Auten singled in the bottom of the first before Matis launched his fifth homer of the season to left center field, landing on top of the Field 6 scoreboard before bounding over for a three-run shot.
In the bottom of the second, the Diamond Jacks exploded for five runs on five hits. Andrew Finarelli drove in a run with a groundout before Fenton Morrissey had an RBI double, Nick Stangota and Jezorwski added RBi singles and Matis pounded another RBI double.
“When everyone is hitting there’s a lot of energy and everyone is cheering,” Matis said. “When someone gets a hit, everyone stands up in the dugout and we all get excited to take our turn to hit.”
The Diamond Jacks pushed the score into the mercy rule vicinity with a six-run third fueled by three hits and four errors. Jezorwski’s two-run double was the highlight in that frame.
The Diamond Jacks have now compiled a 24-5 record at Diamond Nation this spring and have outscored the opposition 329-114.
Not to be lost in the shuffle with all this offensive talk was the masterful way Rich Griswold handled Team Maplewood on the hill. Griswold allowed one run on four hits, he did not give up a walk and he struck out two.
Griswold said it’s not difficult to refocus on pitching after a long half inning of watching his team gather runs in bunches.
“It really makes me more comfortable when we’re hitting because I know that if I give up some runs they will get ‘em back,” Griswold said. “But when I’m out there I’m more focused and not thinking about watching them hit. It’s fun watching them hit but I’m more focused on holding the other team.”
Team Maplewood (0-2) had already lost a tough 3-0 decision to the Pennsbury Falcons before running into the Diamond Jacks. Maplewood will face HTB Bulldogs Black 12U on Sunday at 6:30 p.m., and Show New England 12U Elite on Monday at 8 a.m.