By Sean Reilly
Anthony Tepedino has played in many tournaments over the last couple of years at Diamond Nation, representing the Richmond County Baseball Club.
His teams have played well, allowing him to go back to Staten Island with championship and runner-up medals, along with positive memories from his trips to Flemington.
One thing he hadn’t left with was a tournament Most Valuable Player award. But that changed on Sunday, when he earned the honor after he helped his RCBC Ghost 13U Nationals complete a busy and successful day at “The Nation” by defeating the East Coast Mavericks, 8-1, to capture the championship of the 13U April Fools Tournament.
RCBC went 4-0 on the weekend, with a 33-4 run differential. Three of those victories came on Sunday, starting with a 15-0 triumph over Morris County Cubs White in the pool play windup, and followed by a huge 5-3 victory over the Diamond Jacks Super 13U in the semifinals, prior to the championship win.
“It was tiring toward the end, but it was good,” Tepedino said. “We really pulled together and played well as a team.”
The Nationals also competed at Diamond Nation at the Battle At The Turf Tournament on March 24-26, but didn’t advance beyond pool play.
This weekend was different, as they wound up as the only team in the 16-team field to go undefeated. The turning point was the mid-afternoon playoff decision over the Diamond Jacks Super 13U, who came in with a 3-0 weekend record.
“That was big,” Tepedino said. “They were a very tough team to beat, but we got a couple of hits near the end and played good defense.”
There was no time to rest afterward, since the championship game against the Westchester County-based East Coast Mavericks immediately followed.
The Mavericks were also playing their third game of the day, and were riding high after Roman Catalano’s complete game resulted in a 2-1 win over the potent bats of the previously-unbeaten Diamond Jacks 13U Gold in the other semifinal.
In the championship, RCBC started well when its defense pulled off a double play on a popped up bunt in the top of the first.
In the bottom of the inning, Chris Martin led off with a walk, stole second, and then moved to third when Gabe Lucca grounded out to second. He scored on a wild pitch with Tyler Stern at the plate. Tepedino, the team’s cleanup hitter, singled with two out and advanced to third on two stolen bases, but did not score.
The Mavericks placed runners on first and third with two out in the top of the second, but RCBC pitcher Christian Manteria struck out the next batter looking.
In the bottom of the inning, RCBC broke the game open by scoring five times for a 6-0 lead.
Jason Sarnicola started the inning by hitting a stand-up triple to left field. Anthony Gaglia was then safe on an error that allowed Sarnicola to score. A few more miscues led to additional scoring. Stern hit a two-run single and Lucca, who had reached on error, stole home as part of a double steal.
Manteria pitched shutout ball into the fifth, where Paul Arundell led off for the Mavericks with a triple. A.J. Liberati then hit an RBI single. But the next three batters were retired to maintain a 6-1 lead.
RCBC added its final runs in the bottom of the fifth. Lucca led off with a single and stole second. Stern then hit an RBI single to center field. He scored when Tepedino ripped a triple to close out his 2-for-3 championship game performance.
“This is one of my favorite places to play,” he said. “I like the fields and I like the environment, too. This is my first time getting MVP, so that feels very good. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised, but I’m happy that I got it.”