Team Boston 13U finds the Garden State friendly

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 1, 2024

Team Boston’s Gio Rodriguez dives back to first ahead of tag by Cyclones Michael Milia.

By Rich Bevensee

Team Boston South 13U limped into New Jersey this weekend with a penchant for giving up too many walks and not scoring enough runs.

Maybe it’s the New Jersey cuisine, or there’s something in the water, but it seems Team Boston has turned its fortunes around by choosing to conclude its season in the Garden State. 

Ben Viera offered the perfect antidote for those pitching woes on Sunday by authoring a three-hit shutout, and his teammates’ bats continued to catch fire with a second straight eight-run outburst at Diamond Nation in Flemington. 

Viera struck out 11 and walked only one, while Martin Camara, Owen Bowcock and Cooper Royds each drove in two runs to push Team Boston South to an 8-0, five-inning victory over the Out Of The Park Cyclones Futures in an Independence Weekend Firecracker 13U Blue pool contest at ‘The Nation.’

Just the day before, Team Boston, which arrived in Jersey with a 12-23 record, opened its Firecracker weekend by beating Locked In Expos Black 8-0. Good riddance to past performances.

“We’ve struggled quite a bit this season,” said Team Boston coach Chris Cabe, whose program is based in New Bedford, Massachusetts. “We’ve run-ruled a couple teams but we’ve gotten run-ruled a lot, too. We came here to end our season – this is our last hurrah – and it seems we’re clicking toward the end of the season.”

By mixing his fastball and curveball, Viera was dominant from the jump, striking out the first five batters while retiring the first six overall. He gave up just two hard-hit balls, a single by Michael Milia in the third and a single to Luke Germond in the fifth.

Cabe said Viera’s best tool is his ability to mix speeds. 

“I have pretty good luck with it,” Viera said. “When I see that they’re late on it I try to speed up the pitch. Once they come through the lineup again I make my motion slower so it messes them up and their timing is off.”

“Ben mixes speeds very well, he commands the zone, and he throws a lot of strikes, which is perfect because that’s not one of our MOs this year. We’ve walked a lot of guys,” Cabe said. “Ben has really worked on his offspeed stuff all year and he’s picked up speed because he’s gotten bigger and stronger.”

The Cyclones mounted their first rally in the third with two singles and a walk to load the bases with two out. Viera slipped out of that one by inducing an infield popup. 

In the fifth the Cyclones were daring to break up Viera’s shutout bid with runners at first and third. Viera escaped again with a strikeout on a curveball. 

“I just throw strikes and try to make them hit the ball on the ground so we can make a play,” Viera said. “It’s not that frustrating because I’m good at focusing on what has to be done. And when the bases are loaded I don’t have to focus on anyone on the basepaths, just the batter.”

Cabe also gave credit to Camara, his catcher, for calling pitches. He said Camara was a big reason why Viera was so successful in locating his fastball and curveball. 

“I let him call the game,” Cabe said. “I want these kids to learn why they throw pitches in certain situations, and he does a heckuva job behind the plate. When he’s back there I don’t have to worry about pitches.”

“It’s my first season working with him but he has a lot of ball knowledge,” Viera said. 

As far as the offense is concerned, seven players chalked up base hits, including the top five in the order. Camara, Bowcock and Royds each had an RBI double. 

And now Team Boston has scored 16 runs in two games.

“I think we’re taking balanced at bats, taking our time at the plate, working 3-2 counts, 3-1 counts, and swinging at pitches that we like,” Royds said. “It’s a great feeling to be scoring because when you score you want it to keep going. Keep the hit parade going.”

Ben Viera drives in a run in the fifth for Team Boston.

Team Boston took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Royds’ RBI double to left, and took command of the game with a four-run third inning.

Camara hit a two-run double to left, Bowcock doubled in a run, and Royds drove in a run with a single to left to make it 5-0.

Team Boston reached the mercy rule threshold in the fifth when No. 11 and 12 batters Jonathan Mello and Preston St. Pierre opened the frame with walks and Jackson Cabe singled to load the bases. 

Bowcock walked to force home a run. Viera’s grounder to short drove in one run and an infield error allowed Cabe to score the game-ending run.

Team Boston defeated Locked In Baseball Expos Blue, 6-5, on Saturday to improve to 3-0 in the tournament. It concludes pool play against Wladyka National on Monday at 10 a.m.

The Cyclones, which defeated Expos Black 8-0 to open the weekend and tied Team Boston Rams 3-3, will finish pool play with a game against the BuxMont Hitmen on Monday at 12:15 p.m.

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