Richmond County conquers King of the Diamond

By Bob Behre | April 8, 2019

Excellent pitching and defense proved the formula and a five-run bottom of the sixth the elixir as the Richmond County Nationals defeated Rising Stars Gold, 7-1, in the 13U King of the Diamond championship game last night at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Ronis Lee’s two-run single to center field broke open the game in the middle of the sixth inning rally that ended what had been a tense pitchers duel.

“He’s a good little player,” said Richmond County coach Anthony Sutter. “He has the tools you want in a player. And he’s going to be even better when he stays focused and remains patient.

Righthander Anthony Belasario limited the Rising Stars to one run on four hits over the first five innings. He struck out five and walked three. The lone run Belasario allowed was unearned. Leo Doyle finished matters from there, tossing two shutout innings. The righty struck out none, walked two and did not allow a hit.

“Coming into the first tournament of the spring you don’t always know what you’ll get with pitching,” said Sutter. “But we were very pleased with what we saw this weekend.”

The Nationals (5-0) pitched three shutouts in the King of the Diamond and permitted a paltry four runs in its five tournament games.

Richmond County catcher Anthony Marsillo may have been the unsung hero in the pitching staff’s dominance but it turns out his contribution was indeed noticed.

Marsillo, who caught every inning in the tournament, was named the 13U King of the Diamond tournament Most Valuable Player. Richmond County was without a backup catcher for Marsillo due to an injury, so he had to handle the full load.

“Anthony caught every inning of every game,” said Sutter, “and he played phenomenal defense. You always want to reward a player who steps up like that for his teammates.”

The Rising Stars struck first in the top of the third inning. Evan Kovalcik led off with a single to center field to get things started He moved to second on Zack Wendell’s one-out single to left and advanced to third on an infield error. Cole Serfass brought Wendell home with the game’s first run on a fielder’s choice bouncer to the right side.

Richmond County answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the third. Jack Kehoe drew a two-out walk and sped home when Greg Bruno shot a liner down the left field line for an RBI-double.

Lee singled through the middle with one out in the fourth, moved to second on Anthony Sprung’s fielder’s choice grounder and advanced to third on an infield error. He scored the go-ahead run for Richmond County on Doyle’s bouncer to the left side.

The big rally in the Richmond County sixth was ignited by Kehoe’s leadoff walk, Bruno’s single to center and Marsillo’s walk that loaded the bases with no outs.

Michael Sutter drew a bases-loaded walk before Lee’s two-run single extended the Richmond County lead to 5-1. A pair of fielder’s choice grounders would lift the advantage to 7-1.

The Rising Stars, to their credit, got busy in their last at bat to put pressure on Doyle. But Doyle calmly extricated himself from a bases-loaded, two-out jam by picking a runner off first base.

Lefthander Logan Higgins had an impressive start for the Rising Stars. Higgins worked a deadly curveball on the corners early and spotted his fastball later to limit Richmond County to two runs, one of which was earned, on two hits over four innings. He struck out eight, walked four and hit a batter.

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