Cody Sherrer, center, is flanked by Jayden Shin (left) and Thomas Piszel-Cano after throwing a one-hitter for the Diamond Jacks Super 16U.
By Rich Bevensee
As the Diamond Jacks Super 16U closes out the summer season this week, the coaching staff can enjoy the rest of August knowing the program has a firm grasp of two facets of the game.
One, the offense has shown an ability to be opportunistic, whether it be knocking the ball around the yard or capitalizing on an opponent’s mistakes. And two, Cody Sherrer knows how to command the zone and let his defense do the talking.
The Super 16U put those facets to work on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, as Sherrer pitched a five-inning one-hitter and the team used a nine-run blitz in the fifth inning to mercy rule Northeast Pride 15 National 11-1 in the 16U Blue Chip Prospects Showcase at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
The Diamond Jacks improved to 2-0 this week, following a showcase-opening 12-3 victory over Baseball U N.Y. 16U. On Thursday the Super 16s will face the 9ers Baseball Club at 2:15 p.m., and the Heavy Hitters at 4:30 p.m.
Northeast Pride National fell to 0-2 after opening with an 11-3 verdict against Bandits Baseball Club. The Pride will take on Next Level Titans 2 on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., and the EEP Bandits 2024 Scout Team on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
The Diamond Jacks collected six hits against the Pride, the biggest coming off the bat of Thomas Piszel-Cano, who jump-started the Super 16U by belting a two-run, grounds-rule double to left in the top of the first inning for a 2-0 lead.
“I’ve just been looking fastball, that’s all that’s important,” said Piszel-Cano, a 6-foot, 200-pound rising junior at Central Bucks East in Doylestown, Pa. “Just barrel to fastball, barrel up mistakes. Breaking balls, same thing. Gotta swing.”
With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Piszel-Cano managed to get his bat on an off-speed pitch well enough to beat out an infield hit and drive in a run for a 4-1 Super 16U lead.
“In the beginning of the summer I struggled with the breaking ball,” Piszel-Cano said. “As the summer’s gone on, it’s something I’ve worked on and now I excel at it. The main thing I’m working on right now in my game is my speed. If I can get a little faster that would really help my overall game.”
Sherrer, a rising junior at North Warren, was the epitome of pitching to contact on Tuesday. Of the 15 batters he retired, seven were fly balls to the outfield and six were batted balls to infielders. The remaining two outs were strikeouts.
“Something we’ve talked about is making sure he goes after hitters,” Diamond Jacks coach Walt Cleary said. “Trying to get contact early, trying to get an out within three pitches. If he can get contact on those three pitches we really trust the defense to work behind him.”
Sherrer surrendered his only hit of the game when Pride’s Michael Molinelli led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the middle. Sherrer set the side down in order in the first and fourth innings, he permitted just two walks, and the run he surrendered was unearned.
“It definitely wasn’t my best but it was up there,” said Sherrer, a 6-foot, 175-pound righty who threw 78 pitches, mainly his low-80s fastball with a handful of curveballs and changeups. “My location was alright. I could have thrown a couple more strikes and had better off-speed pitches.”
Cleary said Sherrer was better than just “alright.” In fact, he pointed out Sherrer has been steady the entire summer and was particularly effective when the team traveled last month to Georgia, where Sherrer dominated in two outings against nationally-ranked programs.
“He’s been very good this summer, consistently very good,” Cleary said. “No matter the outing, even if he’s getting hit around, he really keeps his composure. He stays on the same level, doesn’t get too high or too low. He keeps an even keel.”
The Diamond Jacks didn’t waste time posting crooked numbers on the scoreboard. Nick Hernandez and Robert Kelly opened the game with consecutive singles before Jayden Shin walked to load the bases, setting the stage for Piszel-Cano’s two-run double.
The Super 16U was denied a third run in the frame thanks to a superior throw from Pride right fielder Andrew Jones, who caught a Hunter Force fly ball and fired home to nail Shin at the plate for the third out.
The Pride halved its deficit in the bottom of the second when its outstanding catcher, Devin Diaz, reached on an error and later scored on a Michael D’Imperio sacrifice fly.
The game grew quiet from there until the top of the fifth when Pride starter Ty Vogel lost a bit of his command. The Super 16sU sent 13 men to the plate and scored nine runs on two hits, five walks, a hit batsman and two errors.
David Bertz reached on an error, Christian Salgado walked and Hernandez singled to load the bases for the Super 16U. With one out, Shin was hit by a pitch to force in a run, Piszel-Cano had an RBI infield single and Nick Baillargeon made it 5-1 when he walked to force another run home and end Vogel’s day.
Alexandre Nevells took over for Vogel and gave up three consecutive bases-loaded walks to Force, Andrew Reynolds and Bertz for an 8-1 Diamond Jacks lead. Salgado added a ground out RBI, and two more runs scored on a fielding error on a Hernandez ground ball.
Vogel’s line was 4⅓ innings, eight runs (seven earned) surrendered on six hits and three walks with six strikeouts. Nevells threw the final ⅔ of an inning and gave up three runs on three walks.