The efficient and all-inclusive brand of baseball played by the Richmond Titans-Giordano reveals a familiarity not seen often at the 11U level.
The Titans defeated OOTP Cyclones Prospects, 9-0, in the 11U Mother’s Day Classic championship game to cap a thoroughly impressive 4-0 run on Sunday at Diamond Nation. The Titans did so with healthy doses of business and joy for the game.
“They’ve been playing together since they were four,” said Titans coach Frank Giordano. “They really are like a family. They do everything together”
Giordano didn’t indicate if the friendships among his players began with a session of building blocks, but it does appear that what they started at four years-old created the building block for success on the travel circuit.
The Titans seem to get every player involved in the winning process. Of the 12 batters who came to the plate for the Titans, seven of them scored at least one run and 11 of them reached base.
It was going to be a difficult and long Sunday for whichever teams reached the championship games, since the Mother’s Day Classic was relegated to a one-day event due to rain that washed out all games on Friday and Saturday.
That challenge didn’t seem to fluster the Titans, who used all the necessary elements that spell championships; pitching, defense, timely hitting, excellent base running.
The championship game was no different, despite coming against a very worthy opponent in the OOTP Cyclones Prospects (3-1).
The Titans struck for five runs in the bottom of the first inning, tacked on one run in the third and three runs in the fourth to keep the Cyclones at bay. Meanwhile, righthanders Christian Falzone and Chris Mirasola combined on a five-inning shutout.
“My four-seamer and two-seamer were working really good for me,” said Falzone, who shut out the Cyclones on five hits over the first 3.1 innings. He also struck out one and walked three.
Falzone stranded the bases-loaded in the second inning when second baseman Tommy Mogielnigol pulled off a pretty inning-ending double play. Mogielnigol snagged a grounder from Zachary Pizzie, tagged the runner heading to second base, turned and fired to first base for the double play.
“Once I got through that inning I knew I would be good from there,” said Falzone. “Even if I give up two or three runs, I know my teammates will get it back for me the next inning.”
Luca Scarangello ignited the five-run first inning for the Titans when he led off with a double to the left field wall. Falzone drew a walk with one out and Nick Bianco, who had a monster of a tournament, was intentionally walked to load the bases. But, with two outs, Vin Novello made the Cyclones pay when he shot a laser into right-center field for a three-run double.
James Giovannone then drew a walk and Mirasola followed with a two-run double to the wall in left field to boost the lead to 5-0.
Bianco, 1-for-2, 3 runs-scored and two RBI in the final, reached on an error leading off the third, stole second and moved to third on Jack Ruger’s single to right. Bianco took a big turn at third and the Cyclones catcher tried to get him racing back to the bag, but the throw got away, allowing Bianco to score for a 6-0 lead.
The Titans’ three-run rally in the bottom of the fourth was triggered by pinch-hitter Brendan Swanson’s leadoff double to left-center field. Sal Iacono walked with one out and both runners stole to put two runners in scoring position. Falcone was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Bianco delivered again, singling to center field to score two runs. Ruger followed with a double to center field to bring Bianco home for a 9-0 lead.
It was now up to Mirasola, who had entered with one out and a runner on second in the fourth, to secure the victory via the eight-run mercy rule.
Lucas Sheehan led off the fifth for the Cyclones and reached on an infield error. A force-out at second and a strikeout by Mirasola drew the Titans within an out of the championship. But Pizzie reached on a throwing error to put off the celebration. Mirasola, however, got the next batter to bounce out to shortstop Scarangello to end it.
“At this age level, you try to minimize the mistakes,” said Giordano. “Our fielding was really good in the tournament, except the semifinal.” The Titans’ bats offset that issue as the Staten Island-based squad defeated Baseball U. Pa. Pocono, 16-7.
Bianco, the Titans’ catcher, was named the 11U tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“Nick had five hits and five RBI in the tournament,” said Giordano. “He did everything.”