Stanley, Coughlan steer Lab Baseball to 15U Summer Bash crown

By DN WRITING STAFF | August 14, 2023

By Rich Bevensee

Lab Baseball Navy 15U had endured nearly an entire summer without even a whiff of a championship game when the team arrived at Diamond Nation in Flemington for the annual Summer Bash.

Adding insult to injury and unbeknownst to the players and coaches, their training facility closed without warning before the weekend began. So even if Lab Baseball did win a trophy after making the five-hour trip south from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, there wouldn’t be a place to store the hardware.

None of that seemed to matter to the players on Sunday evening at the Nation. Lab Baseball enjoyed its best five-game string of the season and snagged the elusive crown it so desperately wanted, trophy case or not, to close its summer campaign.

Eric Stanley and Joe Coughlan, the first two batters in the Lab lineup, accounted for five of the team’s seven extra base hits and sparked their third-seeded club to the Summer Bash 15U championship in a 14-2 victory over top-seeded TKR Reds of Staten Island, N.Y., on Sunday evening.

“It’s awesome to finally win,” said Coughlan, who doubled twice, walked twice, drove in two runs and scored three times in the final. “We’ve come a long way since the season began. We had some tough losses to start the season, so coming back and winning this is very nice. A couple years ago we came down here and lost to the Body Armor Titans in the final, so we came here today trying to win.”

Lab Baseball went 4-0-1 this weekend after beating the Howell Hurricanes, 10-3, and Central Jersey All-Stars, 12-2, and tying 5-Tool Player Development, 6-6, in pool play, before knocking off second-seeded PPH Mafia 2026, 8-5, in the semifinals.

Coughlan, a 6-2, 165-pound shortstop and rising sophomore at Sandwich High, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He pitched two innings of relief in the game against 5-Tool Player and pitched the first four innings against PPH Mafia. 

“Joe came into pitch when we were down 6-0 and kept the other team at six and we were able to come back and tie just in time for the time limit, so that was huge for us,” Lab coach Dylan Morris said. “He pitched well in the semis, and he swung the bat well all weekend. And defensively at shortstop, he’s the best I’ve seen in three years in this age group. He just makes very difficult plays look easy and he’s been doing that for years.”

Stanley, Lab’s 5-8, 130-pound center fielder and a rising sophomore at Barnstable High, also swung a lethal bat, coming up a home run short of hitting for the cycle. He went 3-for-4 with a single, double and triple, drove in two runs and scored three times.

Joe Coughlan of Lab Baseball was named the 15U Summer Bash MVP.

“Winning tonight is a real relief because we didn’t win one tournament,” Lester said. “We never even made it to a championship game. I think we needed that extra push. Sometimes it felt like we’d give up when we gave up a run and we’d give up in the game. This weekend it felt like everyone hit and kept hitting and it was repetitive and everyone clicked.”

Morris said the lack of a championship before this weekend was not due to a lack of talent. He said the team simply needed time to work together, and even then, some of baseball is timing, and Lab Baseball didn’t have the benefit of that, either.

“We had a couple tournaments where it was looking good until the playoffs,” Morris said, “and then one thing happens and another thing happens, like running into a good pitcher. So it does feel good to string some wins together and win a championship.”

Lab starting pitcher Jack Tarbox, a rising sophomore at Barnstable, allowed one run over the first 3⅓ innings on two hits. He did not permit a walk and had one strikeout.

Stanley relieved Tarbox in the fourth and got two strikeouts to close out the frame. Reed Buckler, another Barnstable sophomore, surrendered a run on one hit and one hit batsman in the fifth before closing out the Reds. 

Lab Baseball began its offensive assault with a four-run burst in the first inning. Stanley led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch. Buckler hit a two-run double and Rocky Vankoski added a sacrifice fly.

Lab made it 6-0 in the second when Stanley ripped an RBI triple and later scored on a double steal, initiated by Coughlan stealing second.

In the fourth, Matthew Meagher drove in a run on a groundout and Sladen Johnson walked with the bases loaded for an 8-0 Lab Baseball lead.

The Reds scratched out a run in the bottom of the fourth. Jake Zilinski copied Stanley, scoring from third on a double steal after Brian Badalamente raced to second.

Lab Baseball piled it on in the fifth inning, batting around to chalk up six more runs. Meagher earned a bases-loaded walk and Stanley lasered a RBI single off Reds pitcher Vin Petruzelli’s leg for a 10-1 lead. Coughlin roped a two-run double and Tarbox added a sac fly to make it 13-1. And Johnson capped the damage with an RBI single. 

The Reds’ Anthony Woods chopped an RBI infield single in the bottom of the fifth before Buckler shut the door on the finale. 

The TKR Reds, named for its coach and his service, Tom Kain Recruiting, reached the final with a 4-0 record. The Reds defeated HV Select, 6-1, Hustle Baseball Academy Red, 5-4, and Baseball U Anthracite, 1-0, in pool play, and bounced the fourth-seeded New York Grays from the semifinals with a 9-2 decision.

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