Super 13U wins crown with another mighty team effort

By DN WRITING STAFF | March 27, 2024

By Rich Bevensee

This year’s Diamond Jacks Super 13U team spent the spring and summer of 2023 beating up on the 12U competition. 

It seemed like each week a different player stood out from the rest of that Super 12U squad and led the team to either a tournament final or the championship. But the collective effort was the most impressive aspect of this group of boys, and the results bore that out.

The team reached nine tournament finals, won four titles and finished with a record of 52-13-1 on the little field.

A year later, this particular group has not lost its swagger. 

In the championship game of the 13U Battle at the Turf on Sunday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington, nine of 11 Diamond Jacks reached base safely, seven recorded base hits, and five scored and had at least one RBI in a 9-2 victory over the Power Academy Thunder. 

Once again, after a massive collective effort, coach Josh Ake was not surprised. 

“With the expectations these guys have set for themselves, they’ve been waiting to get after it after being inside for months,” Ake said. “And they’re not only close on the field but off of it as well, and that makes it a lot of fun.”

Chase Hallett and Ryan “Jaws” Jezorwski shared tournament Most Valuable Player honors for their consistency this weekend. 

“A lot of our players can get MVP,” Jezorwski said. “We played great as a team, we worked together very hard in the winter and we play hard together. Winning this weekend raises the bar because it’s cold in the first tournament of the season, and as it gets warmer we should be getting better as a team.”

In the championship game, leadoff man Hallett went 1-for-2 with a hit by pitch and a run scored. In relief, Hallett pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts and without allowing a hit or a walk.

Cleanup hitter and catcher Jezorwski went 2-for-2 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. 

“Chase had a great weekend – with the bat, a lot of big hits, a lot of RBIs and runs scored,” Ake said. “Jaws is Mr. Consistent. If you ever want a guy up in a big situation, he’s the guy. And he controls the pitches behind the plate.” 

Harry Politi was terrific on the hill, allowing two unearned runs on three hits and one walk with three strikeouts over three innings. Politi didn’t seem fazed by the drastic drop in temperature during the evening tilt, which saw the mercury drop from the mid 40s to 37 degrees. 

‘I’ve been in situations like this before so I don’t feel pressure on the mound,” said Politi, who employed a two-seam fastball, changeup and curveball. “My fastball and especially my outside change worked really well. I throw the change when I’m ahead in the count or on first pitch to a lefty.”

“Harry looked very good,” Ake said. “ He had control of his stuff, he was able to change locations and throw everything for a strike. He was keeping his ball speed, and when he got in trouble he didn’t panic at all. He kept his composure.”

The Diamond Jacks surrendered two runs in the top of the first inning but quickly claimed the lead for good in the bottom of the frame. After walks by Grayson Letang and Jezorwski sandwiched a single by Bryson Auten, Jordan Vesey walked with the bases loaded. 

Lefty-hitting Nick Stangota then showed a nice piece of hitting by spraying a single into left field to score two runs and give the Diamond Jacks a 3-2 lead.

Chase Hallett and Ryan Jezorwski of DJacks Super 13u were named Battle At The Turf co-MVPs.

The Diamond Jacks added single runs in the second and third innings, as Kaleb Kliemish and pinch runner Logan Kurzeja both scored on wild pitches for a 5-2 lead.

In the fourth, James Cokeley had a pinch-hit RBI groundout, Auten curled an opposite-field, two-run single down the right field line, and Jezorwski singled up the middle for a 9-2 lead. 

“I think we expected to win because through all of our practices we’ve been working really hard,” Hallett said. “The weather didn’t really affect us, and I think we’ll do really well in our later tournaments.”

The Diamond Jacks (3-0) reached the title game as the top seed by dismantling the New Hampshire Prospects and the New England Charge, both by 14-0 counts, in pool play. 

Power Academy (3-1) earned the second seed after beating the Morris County Cubs Navy, 19-1, and Diamond Jacks White, 6-4, in pool play, then surviving a seven-inning test from Morris County Cubs Grey, 8-7, in the semifinals. 

In the championship game for Power Academy, Nick Vlastos, who hit his first homer of the spring against Diamond Jacks White, doubled and scored. Brennan Maryott, Floyd Easterbrook and Cam Kaldawy each had a single.

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