Powerballers pitcher Jared Dieffenbach fires away in Thursday’s Super 17 Invitational game.
By Will Harrigan
The Powerballers and Rising Rebels are both highly regarded, mainstay programs that feature at Diamond Nation throughout the course of the year.
So whenever they run into each other in a tournament at ‘The Nation,’ a well-played baseball game can always be expected.
Thursday morning proved to be no different, and it was the Powerballers 17U squad that did just a little more to earn a big victory.
With each side trading blows by putting up crooked numbers in the decisive fifth inning, the Powerballers rallied for three runs to outlast the Rebels’ 17 squad, 5-4, in Super 17 Invitational action in unusually chilly late June conditions.
The Powerballers are now 1-1-1 on the tournament, while the Rebels dropped their third in succession after a hard luck loss.
A trio of hard hits allowed the Pennsylvania-based squad to tie it, and a wild pitch that scored Northampton High School product Erick Castro proved decisive in the end.
“For a while, I thought we were running ourselves into some really bad counts and that kind of killed us in the earlier innings,” said Powerballers coach Anthony Marino. “Once we started attacking early I think that changed things for us.”
Trailing 4-2 in the fifth, Colin Wilson got the decisive rally started for the Powerballers by launching a grounds-rule double deep to left center to reach scoring position.
One pitch later, Noah Gyauch-Quirk – a Lehigh University commit out of Bethlehem Liberty HS – laced a single to center field to score Wilson and instantly cut the deficit in half. A batter later, Castro would rip a double down the left field line to plate Gyauch-Quirk and level things up at 4-4.
A comebacker off the bat of Nicholas Stettner moved Castro to third, before he scored on the wild pitch.
In the top half of the inning, the Rising Rebels launched a big, two-out rally of their own to take the lead.
Delbarton’s Michael Wright would hit a hard liner to left to get aboard and start the rally, and fellow Green Wave teammate Miles Handy would follow that by lacing a double down the line to put two men in scoring position.
Marty Edson would take advantage of the opportunity, as he would deliver a two-run single to put the Rebels ahead, 4-2.
“That team is tough,” said Martino of the Rebels. “All week long, we have been one hit away from being 3-0 , and a hit away from being 0-3. That’s what happens when the level of competition is high.”
Three walks and a hit batsman allowed the Rebels to jump ahead in the first inning and draw first blood.
Sparta product Henri Coleman would work a full count with the bases loaded, and he drew a free pass to force in Ian Grenda.
From there, Powerballers starter Jared Dieffenbach would settle in nicely, retiring 10 of the next 11 batters to move the game into the middle innings. Stettman, meanwhile, singled in a run to even things at 1-1 after one.
Braylen Gonzalez’s grounds-rule double to lead off the third would put the Powerballers in business. A fly out to right would move him over to third, and, with two outs, a wayward pitch would allow him to score and put the Powerballers back in the lead.
Four drawn walks in the fourth inning allowed the Rising Rebels to tie things up without putting the ball in play. Handy would draw the first one, and came around to score when Charles Minervino walked four batters later.
The Rising Rebels will finish up their tournament bright and early on Saturday, when they face Complete Performance Baseball Academy 17U at 8 a.m. The Powerballers will face Out of the Park Cyclones 17U in their finale, also slated at 8.
The Super 17 Invitational is a showcase, so there are no playoffs.