Team Francisco remains Notorious in Super 16 World Series

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 7, 2023

Luke Villella conluded a strong Super 16 World Series with a big game against the CT Mets 16U.

By Luis Torres

Heading into the week, Luke Villella made a couple of adjustments to his swing.

He had been scuffling at the plate a bit, hitting balls that just didn’t drop for hits. He just hadn’t been able to barrel the ball consistently enough, so he worked on getting his hands through the zone from his right-handed hitters’ stance.

The result? How about a week where he helped his team score 40 runs and a week where he had a couple of multi-hit games.

Behind a six-run second inning and two hits from Villella, Team Francisco Notorious 9 came away with a 13-5 win in six innings over the Connecticut Mets 16U in the Super 16 World Series at Diamond Nation in Flemington on Thursday.

Villella went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, three RBI and he drew a walk. He also smacked an RBI single to center field in the second inning as part of a frame where Team Francisco Notorious 9 sent 11 hitters to the plate.

Villella, who struggled in a recent tournament, was all smiles following his performance. His teammates encouraged him while he was finding his way with his swing.

“Just coming back from a big tournament and fixing my swing and getting back to where I was. Kind of use more hands and let my hands do the work,” he said. “My guys also helped me out, and (they) kept me in check.”

It didn’t take long for Team Francisco Notorious 9 to get rolling. 

The team opened the game by scoring three runs, taking advantage of command issues from CT Mets 16U’s starting pitcher. 

They poured it on in the second inning, jumping out to a 9-0 lead at one point.

“It’s what we do,” Team Francisco Notorious 9 coach Chris Sipp said. “We knew we had position players pitching today, so we had to hit. We’ve hit the ball well all weekend.”

Added Villella: “Everyone hits on our team, and we know that. Everyone went up and had a good at-bat, and when everyone does that, we’re going to hit, and we’re going to play and we’re going to win.”

CT Mets 16U scratched across three runs in the bottom of the third inning, including a two-run triple by Joseph Salafia to cut the deficit to 10-4.

But it wasn’t enough against the hot-hitting lineup of Team Francisco Notorious 9. Villella ended his day with a two-run triple in the top of the sixth inning, hitting a sinking line drive that went under the left fielder’s glove. It was the exclamation mark on a big week for him.

“Thank God,” Villella laughed. “It was the same approach. I was sitting fastball and letting my hands work. Got some good hits in front of me. Made the pitcher work a little bit, so I got to see a lot on the on-deck circle, which is huge.”

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