By Sean Reilly
It was a weekend of unexpected surprises for Alex Famolari during the 15U Slugfest at Diamond Nation.
It started in his first at bat of the tournament. More of a contact than power hitter, he hit a home run in a game that his Diamond Jacks Super 15U team won on Saturday morning.
It continued on Sunday evening, when the Diamond Jacks Super 15U faced the Richmond County Baseball Club Marucci Nationals in the Slugfest final. It was a matchup of two superior programs.
Famolari delivered a two-out RBI single in the top of the third inning. And while it was rather early in the game, it wound up being the game winner as no more runs were scored by either side, as the Diamond Jacks Super 15U gained a 2-1 victory in Flemington.
“In 15U baseball it’s almost never 2-1,” Famolari said. “I had no idea that was going to be the run that did it.”
The Diamond Jacks Super 15U, which finished the weekend 5-0 with a 42-4 run differential, also won with pitching and defense that were on full display in the championship win.
Michael Novotny pitched the first five innings, allowing one run on five hits, with two strikeouts and no walks. Zach Geertsma got the save by pitching two innings, with one hit, one strikeout and no walks.
The game also had an interesting ending. The RCBC Nationals (3-1, 32-4 run differential) got a two-out single to left field from Vin Grimaldi in the bottom of the seventh. The next batter hit a ball to right field that could have wound up a single, but right fielder Cole Raymond picked it up and fired a throw to first baseman Lorenzo Maselli just in time to beat the runner for the last out.
“A 9-3 play to end it is something you never see,” said Famolari, who was named tournament co-MVP along with teammate Owen Schilling. “This was a great team win. We played amazing defensively and had six straight scoreless innings, so our pitching staff did great. We also had eight or nine hits. We didn’t get that one breakthrough run, but we did enough to win.”
While there were only three runs scored in the game, both teams plated their leadoff batter in the first inning.
The Diamond Jacks Super 15U began the game with Jack Markovich hitting a single to left field. Next up was Danny Contiliano, who singled to right field. An errant throw back into the infield wound up in dead ball territory, which resulted in Markovich being awarded home. RCBC starter Jason Bassett got out of the inning with no further damage.
In the bottom of the inning, Anthony Macaluso led off for RCBC with a single past shortstop. Anthony Molinini sacrificed him to second. After a fly out to left field, Grimaldi (2-for-3) singled up the middle just beyond the reach of the shortstop to score Macaluso for a 1-1 tie.
The Diamond Jacks Super 15U broke the deadlock in the third. John Rossman led off with a walk. Michael Basile dropped down a bunt, and RCBC tried for a play at second base. Instead, the throw was off, putting two aboard for the top of the order. RCBC’s Bassett struck out the next two batters looking, but Famolari then delivered his run-scoring single to left field.
“I was just thinking attack the first good pitch,” Famolari said. “I fouled off a slider, then he gave me a fastball and I just jumped on it.”
Famolari ended the game 2-for-3 after adding an infield single in sixth. Maselli also finished 2-for-3 for the Diamond Jacks Super 15U.
“This was a special weekend,” said Famolari. “I started it off with a home run, which I thought was going to be the highlight of it. It doesn’t happen very often. That was a good feeling, but winning the tournament, nothing beats this.”