Matthew Bolton of Next Level Titans squares up a pitch in Saturday’s Super 16 Invitational game.
By Will Harrigan
Team DCP National coach Tony Messina has a philosophy of producing early offense to put his squad’s opponents on their heels right from the start.
In their Super 16 Invitational debut on Saturday morning, his boys from Maryland’s Eastern Shore did exactly that.
Striking in the top of the first, Team DCP – a club that draws players from Maryland, Delaware, and the Virginia shoreline – put up a four-spot and parlayed that with a fine pitching performance by three hurlers to notch a 5-0 shutout victory over the Next Level Titans at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg.
The contest was the showcase debut for each team, and both will play a pair of games back at Diamond Nation today.
“I always tell my guys to attack early because once a pitcher gets into a groove, it’s hard to shake that,” said Messina. “That’s exactly what happened today. We came out swinging, and then their kid settled in really well after that. We kind of were fortunate there.”
Lucky or not, Team DCP wasted no time in getting after it in the first inning.
Leadoff man Matt O’Connor opened things with a single, which was quickly followed by a walk drawn by A.J. Kolb to set the table.
Luke Filliken would then single to center, scoring O’Connor and getting the winners on the board. Team DCP designated hitter Wyatt Randolph would then rope a double into the left center-field gap, scoring two more runs before a single out was recorded.
It was then Eric Braica’s turn to get into the hit parade, as his RBI single to left field scored another run, making it 4-0 after a half inning.
Meanwhile, the pitching combination of Brady Harach, Max Mullins, and O’Connor held Next Level Titans scoreless across seven innings.
The trio combined to pitch a four-hitter, with the only extra base hit of the game coming off the bat of Binghamton commit Matthew Bolton for the Titans.
“All of those guys were able to throw two pitches consistently for strikes and got ahead in counts,” said Messina. “That’s why they were successful against a pretty good team.”
A two-out walk by Randolph started the sequence that would lead to the game’s final run.
Randolph would proceed to steal second base, and Braica – who plays his high school ball for Stephen Decatur HS in Maryland – drove in his second run of the day by singling home Randolph.
On the other side, following a tough first inning, lefty pitcher John Carroll – who plays for Long Island power Chaminade – got into quite a groove himself, setting down 11 straight Team DCP batters to keep his squad in the game.
Bolton would walk and swipe a pair of bases in the fourth, but his stranding 90 feet from home would be the closest the Titans came to plating a run.