Titus Baseball 2027 goes home happy after Firecracker 14U comeback

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 3, 2023

Justin Minaya of Tucci Elite 14U dives toward plate to score on Lorenzo Mujica’s grounder to second.

By Sean Reilly 

Braden Davis came to the plate in a crucial situation for Titus Baseball 2027 in the bottom of the sixth inning of Monday morning’s game against Tucci Elite 14U at Diamond Nation.

Titus was down by a run, and there were runners on first and second with nobody out when Davis stepped into the box in the pool play matchup at the Independence Weekend Firecracker Tournament.

His approach was to keep things simple.

“I was just sitting for a first-pitch fastball,” he said. “He had been starting with fastballs up to that point.”

That’s exactly what Davis got, and he lined a single to center field that tied the game. 

A walk to Carter Schurman then loaded the bases with one out, and Kevin McConaghy legged out an infield grounder to prevent an inning-double play, which also enabled Gavin Dirita to score what would become the winning run in a 6-5 victory in Flemington. 

Davis was also the winning pitcher in relief for Titus Baseball, which ended the weekend with a 2-2 record.

The Delaware-based team not only got to head home feeling good after snapping a two-game losing streak over the weekend, it did so by overcoming a 5-1 deficit against Tucci Elite, which went 1-2-1 in the tournament.

“This was a nice way to end it,” said Davis, who took the mound in the fifth inning and allowed no runs on two hits, struck out three and walked none. At the plate, he went 2-for-3.

“We probably should have won some of the others,” he said. “We came back in those, but couldn’t quite make it happen. So it was good to do it in this one.”

Titus took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Hunter Strauss singled to right field with two out and stole second. He also stole third, and scored when the throw to the base went into left field.

The Connecticut-based Tucci Elite scored three times in the second. Kyle Schiffer led off with an Infield single on a slow bouncer along the third base line. He went to second on an errant pickoff throw, and moved to third on a one-out single to left field by Jason Dize, who ended 2-for-3.

Matt Rice of Titus Baseball is safe with leadoff single that launched pivotal three-run sixth inning.

Tucci Elite then pulled off a successful first-and-third double steal play, with Schiffer scoring the tying run. Harry Kittredge hit a two-out double to center field to deliver Dize, and Tyler Santiago singled to center to score Kittredge for a 3-1 lead.

Tucci Elite added two more runs in the third. Justin Minaya led off with a double past third base and into left field. The next batter struck out on a ball in the dirt near the plate, with Minaya advancing to third on the successful throw to first base.

With the infield playing up, Lorenzo Mujica hit a grounder to second. Minaya beat the throw to the plate to score the fourth run. Mujica came around to score on a balk for the 5-1 advantage. 

Titus Baseball 2027 began to chip away in the bottom of the fourth. 

Dirita got things going by drawing a one-out walk on a full count. He advanced to second on a wild pitch with Davis at the plate, and scored when Davis hit a hard grounder past the second baseman. 

A balk and then an error following a line out to shortstop sent the runner to third, and he scored when Schurman dropped a single into right field, cutting the Tucci lead to 5-3.

The game turned in the bottom of the sixth.

Matt Rice led off for Titus Baseball with a hard-hit ball that fell in front of the right-fielder, and he beat a throw to first for a single. Strauss, who went 2-for-3, followed with an RBI double to the gap in left center. Dirita then walked to put runners on first and second for Davis. 

He anticipated a fastball and got it, supplying the single that resulted in a 5-5 tie with nobody out.

“I swung at it, and tried to take it up the middle,” he said. 

The next batter struck out, and McConaghy followed with the hard-hit grounder that resulted in a force out at second and nearly a double play at first. Instead, he reached first safely, which also allowed Dirita to score the go-ahead run.

Dirita wound up with walks in each of his three at-bats, while Schurman was 1-for-1 with two walks.

Davis allowed a leadoff single in the top of the seventh, but retired the next three batters without the runner advancing.

“It was really hot out there,” he said. “I don’t actually know what was going right, because I don’t throw that hard, but they were just swinging and missing a lot of my fastballs.”

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