Tri-State Arsenal 15U assembles late, produces early

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 2, 2024

Arsenal’s Jaxon Magner was out on this play by Diamondbacks first baseman Nick Minafo, but the play drove in a run for Arsenal in the third inning.

By Rich Bevensee

With a single practice session under their belts before coming together for their first tournament, the Tri-State Arsenal 2027 South ballplayers were wondering – perhaps even a little concerned – about just how talented their team might be this summer.

Then Landon Delaney and J.R. Brovak showed that the pitching staff has some firepower, Tyler Jorett ignited an offense which proved it could hang a big number on the scoreboard, and the Arsenal displayed nearly flawless defense. 

Those are the ingredients which have coach Steven Hickey excited about what Arsenal can achieve this summer. His ballclub used an early six-run rally to grab an 8-4 victory over the Tinton Falls Diamondbacks in the 15U Red Bracket of the Home Run Classic Powered by Victus on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation in Flemington. 

“I’m very excited,” said Brovak, who was solid in 3⅓ innings of relief. “We hit the ball really well today, we pitched well, we fielded well. It’s a great group of guys and I can already tell by one game that we’re going to win a lot of baseball games.”

Arsenal features players from Delco as well as central and southern New Jersey. 

“I was worried, just not sure how we were going to do in this tournament,” Jorett said. “But I think we’re going to do well.”

Jorett ignited the six-run first inning rally with a bases-loaded, two-run single up the middle. After a walk reloaded the bases, Daniel Vergara stroked a bases-clearing double and Sean O’Reilly cracked a run-scoring triple into the right field corner. 

“That got everyone started, got everyone excited,” said Jorett, who just finished his freshman year at Perkiomen Valley High in Collegeville, Pa. “It starts the game and keeps the rally going.”

“That was a big hit, and we needed a big hit,” Hickey said of Jorett’s two-run single. “We had guys on base with one out so we needed something to get us started, to put a little weight on the other side. And these guys know once you get some weight on them, don’t let go.”

It seemed Delaney was going on cruise control after two nearly perfect innings. He hit one batter in the first inning but retired the next seven. 

In the third inning with two out, Delaney lost his touch a bit, allowing a base hit and three walks. Two runs scored on wild pitches. So Hickey brought in Brovak, who escaped further damage with a groundout. 

“Landon had trouble locating his fastball. He got behind in a couple counts and was struggling a little bit,” Hickey said. “But overall the first two innings he had great command and he kept guys off balance with his curveball. I’m looking forward to what Landon has for us the rest of the summer.”

Brovak allowed two runs over his 3⅓ innings on three hits and two walks with three strikeouts. The Diamondbacks nicked Brovak for a pair of runs in the top of the fourth, but stranded four baserunners against him after that. 

“My curveball wasn’t really working. I was throwing it low in the zone and spiking it sometimes,” said Brovak, who just completed his freshman year at Bordentown. “That was good though, because I could set up batters with a higher fastball, and that deceives them.

“I was always ready (to pitch) – I was warm before the game. I felt I had to prove myself, and that feeling drove me to pitch well today.”

Hickey didn’t plan on using Brovak so soon in the game but he was pleased he got a look at two pitchers with very different approaches.

“J.R.’s a little different in that he throws a little lighter than Landon does,” Hickey said. “His game is keeping guys off speed, guys are out front, making guys pop up. He definitely did well.”

After falling behind 6-0, the Diamondbacks bounced back with a pair of runs in the third, as Dom Golembieski and Justin Cannon scored on back-to-back wild pitches. 

Arsenal added a run in the bottom of the third to go up 7-2, when Jaxon Magner contributed an RBI groundout. 

The Diamondbacks tried sneaking back into the ballgame with another pair of runs in the fourth to get within 7-4. Eli Gonzalez cranked an RBI double into the left field corner and he later scored when Ryan Romano reached on a two-out throwing error.

Arsenal got that run right back in the fifth in the same manner, as Jorett scored from third when Vergara reached on a two-out throwing error. 

The Diamondbacks were stunned by an injury to starting pitcher John Trotte in the bottom of the first inning. Arsenal’s Delaney broke for second with Matthew Lawless on third, and Diamondbacks catcher Joe Ciammaruconi threw hard back to Trotte to decoy Lawless. 

The throw glanced off Trotte’s glove and struck him in the throat. At first demanding to remain in the game, he soon walked off the field and was taken out of the game. Diamondbacks coach Tim Minafo said Trotte was having trouble speaking so Trotte left the complex to receive medical care.

Justin Cannon, pitching in relief of Trotte, allowed six runs on six hits and three walks over his 4⅓ innings. He also struck out five.

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *