Lefthander Nick Rizzo scattered six hits over 5.2 innings to steer the Long Island Junior Ducks to a 2-1 victory over Elite Squad NY in the Boys of Summer 15U Red Bracket championship game last night at Diamond Nation.
Rizzo stranded five base runners in the first two innings to fend off Elite Squad NY before his command improved and he shut out his opponent the rest of the way. Working a curveball and changeup in nicely with his fastball, Rizzo struck out five, walked two before Jason Campo closed out the victory by getting the final two outs in the sixth inning.
“My changeup and curveball were working well,” said Rizzo, just a rising freshman at East Islip High School in Long Island. “I was getting strikes, too, with my four-seam fastball on the inner half.”
It was Rizzo who delivered the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth. Brandon Buffalini led off with an infield single, easily beating out a slow roller to the left side. Elite Squad NY starter Ayden Alexander then committed a balk that sent Buffalini to second base before a wild pitch moved him to third base with no outs.
Alexander regrouped by striking out the next batter before Rizzo hit a slow bouncer to the left side. Alexander raced over and made a perfect throw to the plate but the ball arrived to catcher George Busnach at the same time as Buffalini. The ensuing collision knocked the ball loose as Buffalini scored to give the Junior Ducks a 2-1 lead.
“It’s a game of inches,” said Junior Ducks coach Andrew Abreu. “It was well executed by us.”
Rizzo was named the Boys of Summer 15U Red Bracket Most Valuable Player.
The execution was actually excellent by both teams in what was a crisp, well-played game loaded with slick plays and gritting pitching efforts with men on base.
Both teams struck for a run in the first inning and Elite Squad’s leadoff hitter Brian Cox ripped Rizzo’s first offering of the game into right-center field for a double to get things started. Alexander drew a walk and Juan Delacruz singled to center to load the bases with no outs. Chris Villavencio followed with a long fly to center field that Cox had no trouble tagging and score on for a 1-0 lead. Alexander took third on the fly ball, too.
Jayden Luna then hit a bouncer back to Rizzo who ran Alexander back to third base but his throw was too late. Alexander and Luna were both safe and the bases were re-loaded. Busnach then hit a hard shot toward third base that Jake Desburiers leaped and snared for the second out. He then calmly stepped on third for an inning-ending double play.
The Junior Ducks tied it at 1-1 in the bottom of the first courtesy of three walks and Colin Ross’ RBI groundout. Desubriers, Mason Mehling and Campo drew walks around a play that prevented much more damage by the Junior Ducks. Nick Grandellis, the No. 2 hitter, hit a laser into right-center but center fielder Jason Rodriguez raced over and made a flat out diving catch for the first out of the inning. Alexander would get a strikeout to strand the bases loaded and extricate himself from further trouble.
Both pitchers settled into a fairly tidy pitchers duel from there.
Rizzo got out of a one-out, two-on jam in the second, struck out the side in the third and benefited from a pretty 5-4-3 double play in the fourth initiated by Desburiers. Rizzo walked Sam Winsett and Rodriguez with one out in the fifth but, again, got out of it. After he allowed a one-out single to Villavencio in the sixth, Abreu came and got him. He inserted the righty Campo who calmly got the final two outs of the game on ground balls.
“Nick settled in,” said Abreu. “His fastball has a ton of movement. He battled. He did a good job.”
Alexander flashed a nasty curveball to limit the Junior Ducks to just two hits over five innings. He struck out eight and walked five. Alveire Delacruz saved Alexander a run in the third inning when, with Grandellis on second and one out, he charged in on Mehling’s sinking liner to right field and made a diving catch for the second out.
“They threw a guy at us who is exceptional,” said Abreu.
The Long Island Junior Ducks (4-0) outscored their tournament opponents 17-4. Elite Squad NY (4-1) held a 30-9 runs advantage on its opponents.
Boys of Summer recaps
15U Blue Bracket
Heavy Hitters 9, Beast United 1
Heavy Hitters defeated Beast United, 9-1, in the Boys of Summer 15U Blue Bracket championship game. The MVP was awarded to the entire Heavy Hitters team. Heavy Hitters (5-0) outscored their opponents 49-12. Beast United (3-1-1) held a 25-14 runs advantage on its opponents.
14U Red Bracket
Baseball Warehouse Black 10, Marucci Philadelphia 3
Baseball Warehouse Black defeated Marucci Philadelphia, 10-3, in the Boys of Summer 14U Red Bracket championship game. Coach Big Play Ray of Baseball Warehouse Black was named the 14U Red Bracket Most Valuable Player. Baseball Warehouse Black (5-0) outscored its opponents 41-7. Marucci Philadelphia (3-1) held a 37-14 runs advantage on its opponents.
Grit Orange 11, Morris County Cubs 5
Grit Orange defeated the Morris County Cubs, 11-5, in the Boys of Summer 14U Gold championship game. Chris Ahle of Grit Orange was named the 14U Gold tournament Most Valuable Player. Grit Orange (4-0) outscored its opponents 28-15. The Morris County Cubs were outscored by its opponents 31-29.
Oil City Bandits 11, CB Raiders 3
The Oil City Bandits defeated the CB Raiders, 11-3, in the Boys of Summer 12U championship game. Josh Migdal of the Bandits was named the 12U tournament Most Valuable Player. The Bandits (4-0) outscored their opponents 49-6. CB Raiders (4-1) held a 35-14 runs advantage on its opponent.
Hit Brigade 13, Diamond Jacks Super 11U 12
Hit Brigade defeated the Diamond Jacks Super 11U, 13-12, in the Boys of Summer 11U championship game. Hit Brigade (4-0) outscored its opponents 43-30. The Super 11U (2-1-1) held a 48-32 runs advantage on its opponents.
Hudson Valley Renegades 8, RCBC Nationals 4
The Hudson Valley Renegades defeated the RCBC Nationals, 8-4, in the Boys of Summer 10U championship game. Hudson Valley Renegades (4-0) outscored their opponents 33-15. RCBC Nationals (2-1-1) held a 34-23 runs advantage on their opponents.