Righthander Chris Serrano pitched 4.1 shutout innings and Andrew Fernandez keyed a four-run third inning as the Full Count Prospects defeated Baseball Performance Center, 4-0, in the Super 16 World Series Red Bracket championship game on Sunday night at Diamond Nation.
Serrano, a rising junior at Kearny High School, kept the strong Baseball Performance lineup at bay with a clever mix of his fastball and curveball as he limited the Atlantic County club to one hit while striking out six and walking three.
“My fastball was feeling good out of my hand,” said Serrano. “We didn’t come this far to lose.” Serrano did an excellent job working the outside corner against the Baseball Performance Center bats.
Serrano and Josh Kuroda-Grauer, a rising junior at Franklin, were named the Red Bracket co-Most Valuable Players.
Jayden Shertel, the starting pitcher and No. 3 hitter for Performance Baseball would get the team’s only hits, a single in the first inning and an infield single in the seventh off reliever Ishaan Patel (Edison).
Shertel was sharp for five innings except for the third inning when a pair of walks contributed to Full Count’s four-run rally. The righthander and rising junior from St. Joseph of Hammonton surrendered four hits, all coming in the third, struck out eight and walked four.
The bottom of the Full Count order ignited the rally in the third. Nick Della Salla (South Plainfield) lashed a leadoff single to left-center field, the first hit allowed by Shertel. Matt Orlando (St. Joseph of Metuchen) then ripped a double down the right field line to put two runners in scoring position. Patel, the No. 11 hitter, delivered Della Salla with the game’s first run on a long sac fly to center field.
Shertel struck out Serrano, Full Count’s leadoff hitter, for the second out, but he would not get out of the jam yet. Raiden Yost (Middlesex) drew a walk and Kuroda-Grauer followed with a single to left that scored Orlando with the second run. Shertel then walked Matt Carey (Delbarton) before Fernandez (Seton Hall Prep) drove an outside pitch into center field for a two-run single and a 4-0 lead.
“We played a clean game and our pitchers threw strikes,” said Full Count coach Kristian Cortizo. “And we got timely hitting when we needed it. This is a scrappy bunch.”
Shertel would restore order by retiring Full Count in order in the fourth and fifth innings but Serrano and Patel weren’t giving much ground either. Serrano did walk the first two batters in the fourth before getting out of trouble unscathed, catching the clean-up hitter looking at a third strike curveball for the third out.
Serrano, who had won a game in relief on Saturday, had to convince Cortizo to allow him to come out for the fifth. “Coach was trying to take me out, but I wasn’t done,” said Serrano.
But Cortizo did come and get Serrano after he issued a one-out walk to Jackson Vanesko. Patel fell behind 3-0 to the first batter he faced, Mark Elliot, but induces a grounder to the right side that second baseman Brandon Shine (South Plainfield) deftly turned into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. Patel would work around a walk to Louie Levari (Buena) in the sixth and Shertel’s infield single in the seventh to locked down the championship for Full Count.
“This team has character,” said Cortizo. “That’s what we instill in them. They never quit.” Full Count was trailing, 7-0, in its tournament opener against the RCBC Nationals and rallied to an 8-7 victory that propelled the Middlesex County-based squad to a 6-0 tournament run.
Jonathan Rosado (Elizabeth) had the only other hit for Full Count, a two-out infield single in the top of the seventh. The only error in the game came on an errant pickoff attempt in the top of the seventh after Fernandez drew a leadoff walk. Otherwise, both teams played sterling defensively.
Baseball Performance Center’s Clay Sands (Mainland) made a remarkable lunging catch near the right field wall on a drive by Carey to end the sixth. HIgh school teammate Chase Petty, a rising junior, showcased a powerful arm at shortstop on a number of throws. He very nearly threw out Rosado at first base in the seventh despite going deep in the hole and firing off his back foot. Kuroda-Grauer likewise made a couple of strong throws from shortstop for Full Count.
“We’re a scrappy team,” said Serrano. “We hit the ball and make plays in the field. Our pitchers trust out defense. That method is working for us.”
Full Count (6-0) outscored its tournament opponents 42-18 while Baseball Performance Center (4-1) held a 32-10 runs advantage of its opponents.
TOURNAMENT NOTES: The Long Island-based East Coast Lumberjacks, a familiar face at Diamond Nation tournaments, entered its 2022 squad which consists of rising high school sophomores and even a pair of rising freshman. The baby Lumberjacks did themselves proud, going 3-2 in tournament play before falling in the Blue Bracket semifinals to the eventual champion East Coast Royals. … Baseball Performance Center coach Ed Charlton is a St. Augustine Prep and NJIT grad. He played professionally for two years in the Cincinnati Reds chain and with the CanAm League Rockland (NY) Boulders.
Super 16 World Series recaps
RCBC New Jersey 7, Hit & Run Outlaws 3: RCBC New Jersey defeated the Hit & Run Outlaws, 7-3, in the Super 16 World Series White Bracket championship game. Hunter Rivera and Chris Corchado of RCBC were named the tournament’s co-Most Valuable Players. RCBC New Jersey (5-0-1) outscored its opponents 44-20. The Outlaws (4-1) held a 50-27 runs advantage on their opponents.
East Coast Royals 11, Jersey Boyz Baseball 3: The East Coast Royals defeated Jersey Boyz Baseball, 11-3, in the Super 16 World Series Blue Bracket championship game. Cole Reynolds of the Royals was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The East Coast Royals (5-0) outscored their opponents 52-10 while Jersey Boyz Baseball (4-1-1) held a 38-22 runs advantage on its opponents.
Super 9U Invitational recap
Grit 9U 10, Mt. Laurel Indians 6: Grit 9U defeated the Mt. Laurel Indians, 10-6, in the Super 9U Invitational championship game. Luke Fazulak and Trevor Greenbush of Grit 9U were named the tournament’s co-Most Valuable Players. Grit 9U (3-1) outscored its opponents 37-29. The Mt. Laurel Indians (2-1) held a 34-13 runs advantage on their opponents.
Super 12U Invitational recap
Oil City Bandits 6, Baseball U. NY 4: The Oil City Bandits nipped Baseball U. NY, 6-4, in the Super 12U Invitational championship game. Aiden Shaughnessy of the Bandits was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Bandits (4-1) outscored their opponents 50-31. Baseball U. NY (2-1-1) held a 28-18 runs advantage on its opponents.