By Will Harrigan
Coming from Baltimore, Team XP Shaprow’s 15U squad opened up its summer travel season with the Memorial Day Blast at Diamond Nation.
And while they will not be returning to Flemington for the rest of the summer, Team XP made quite an impression over the weekend.
Exacting revenge on the Locked in Baseball Expos after a loss earlier in pool play, Team XP Shaprow rolled to an 11-2 victory to take the 15U championship on Monday night. In five games, Team XP Shaprow outscored their opponents by a 59-24 margin.
“I thought we really saved our best game for last,” said Team XP coach Ted Shaprow. “Our bats really got going and we came through with some timely hits. We had a rugged tournament against some great competition. This is a terrific way to start our spring.”
While the MVP award was given to a grandparent who toughed it out in the heat, especially on Saturday, and watched all five games behind the plate, the on-field MVP for Team XP would be J.D. Eckelt.
Having recently finished his sophomore year at Perry Hall High School in Nottingham, Maryland, Eckelt went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a triple, while tossing three scoreless innings to close out the festivities for the winners.
His triple in the right-center field gap proved to be decisive, as the two-run scoring shot gave Team XP a nine-run lead after six innings, ending the game via the mercy rule.
“J.D. is our main guy. He does a little bit of everything for us,” Shaprow said. “We took a different strategy of tag-teaming our pitching this weekend, and he closed a few of our games out. We don’t win this without him.”
Two batters into the game, team XP drew first blood.
Brayden Wolf laced a double into the left-center field gap to score Hayden Neidzialkowski, who was struck by the very first pitch of the game.
An inning later, the Morris County-based Expos would get right back even in the run manufacturing form.
Scott Hanson was struck by a pitch, advanced to second on a wayward pitch, and then scored when team XP made a fielding error two batters later.
The Expos would go on to take the lead an inning later when clean-up batter Matt Hodak roped a triple to deep center field to give his squad a 2-1 edge. Ben Andreotti had walked a batter earlier to set the table for Hodak.
The first big rally came in the fifth, when Team XP put up a five-spot to take control of the game. Hunter Layhem began the damage with an RBI single to tie it, but it was a two-RBI single off Kellen Deacon’s bat that created separation for the winners.
Eckelt would add an RBI groundout to cap off the rally for Team XP.