Trumbull Travel takes two Memorial Day Blast titles

By Bob Behre | June 4, 2021

Trumbull Travel 15U shut out the Locked In Expos, 7-0, to win the 15U Memorial Day Blast.

Baseball in Trumbull, Connecticut boasts a proud history that includes the 1989 Little World Series championship. Anyone at least 10 years old in 1989 can remember Trumbull picking off mighty Taiwan in the championship game.

That success and love for the game preceded that glorious 1989 season in Trumbull and it has certainly followed just as strongly since. So, when the Trumbull name is uttered, in the Northeast in particular, successful baseball comes to mind.

The Trumbull Travel program has emanated from that deep well of local talent and, for that matter, has stayed local. Trumbull has put together a program that enlists Trumbull talent only and takes to the road every Memorial Day weekend to test its mettle at Diamond Nation.

“We come to Diamond Nation every Memorial Day weekend for the competition,” says Trumbull Travel founder and director Mike Buswell. “This is the Super Bowl for our program.”

If that’s the case, consider this weekend a couple clutch touchdowns scored when they were needed most and a bunch of other really nice scoring plays for Trumbull Travel. The program’s 15U and 9U teams brought home championship hardware and a pair of tournament MVPs in the Memorial Day Blast tournament. On top of that, Trumbull’s nine entries in the Blast registered a combined 18-13-2 record.

Not bad for a program drawing from one town, albeit a thriving 40,000-person community that lives and breathes baseball.

The championships were the first for Trumbull Travel at Diamond Nation and certainly secured more than a few giddy rides back up the Merritt Parkway.

In the flush of the program’s terrific weekend, Buswell shot off this email to the families in his program. “Diamond Nation is the premier tournament facility in the northeast,” he said. “We went down there on a holiday weekend and won two tournaments.”

Trumbull Travel’s 15U squad, coached by Buswell, went 3-0-1 and knocked off the Locked In Expos, 7-0, in the 15U championship game. Righthander Jeffrey Kraus tossed a two-hit, complete game gem, striking out 10 and tacked on another resume builder, a two-run home run in the fourth that Buswell called, “back-breaking.” Kraus latched onto a first-pitch fastball and drove it over the right field wall.

Coach Kevin Murray’s 9U squad went an impressive 4-0 in the tournament and rode an arsenal of live bats that accounted for 46 runs. But Murray also received strong pitching from Alex Carillo, Matt Recupero, Chad Taylor, Carmine Balogh and A.J. Tuason.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the effort and focus from our 9U group,” said Murray. “We came out swinging, battled the inclement weather conditions and remained positive throughout the tournament against some very good teams. We can’t wait until next year.”

Jeffrey Kraus was named the 15U Memorial Day Blast MVP for his outstanding overall performance in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Trumbull’s 10U (2-2), 11U (2-1), 12U Black (1-2-1), 12U Gold (0-4), 13U (2-1), 13U Gold (1-2) and 14U (3-1) teams did the program proud in their individual performances.

“The way we practiced during the week really prepared us for the type of competition we saw down here,” said Buswell. “We practiced with a purpose. We did a lot of defensive reps, tons of pop-ups and communication drills and we focused on situational hitting and executed it well in games throughout the tournament. Many of the things we covered in practice showed on the field in live situations.”

Ryan Warner steered the Trumbull 15U offense with a .556 average and D.J. Amaral, Matthew Wood, Sean Francoeur and Luca Antonio chipped in with clutch RBI hits. Kraus was named the 15U tournament’s Most Valuable Player after his pitching performance and for delivering at the plate. He pitched a total of 10 scoreless innings in the tournament. Catcher A.J. Albaladejo kept the pitching staff centered and he and Jake Hull contributed hits in big spots.

“I think the difference in the tournament that stood out was we had two pitchers, Francoeur and Kraus, that may have been the best in the tournament,” said Buswell. “And we saw some very good arms all weekend but I think the depth of our lineup wore them down and grinded out runs.”

Trumbull Travel 9U ran the table to win the 9U Memorial Day Blast championship on Monday at Diamond Nation.

Murray had much to be pleased about as well, particularly in 9U tournament Most Valuable Player Jake Feighery, who went 7-for-10 (.700) with a triple and a pair of doubles.

Trumbull Travel 9U would draw a rematch in the final in a Mid Atlantic Warriors team it defeated, 11-4, in pool play. Feighery would get the ball rolling with a leadoff single in the first inning. He then stole second and scored on a Carmine Balogh’s single. Feighery would go 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI in the final.

Trumbull 9U erupted for six runs in the second to take a commanding 7-0 lead. Alex Carillo triggered that big rally with a single and two stolen bases. Albaladejo, Tuason, Brenden Chute, Brandon Russo and Chad Taylor all had hits in the game-changing uprising.

Balogh’s pitching was efficient through three innings as Trumbull 9U carried a 7-0 lead into the fourth. But Mid Atlantic got to Balogh in the fourth to trim the deficit to 7-4. Trumbull, as it would all tournament, answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning to extend the lead to 9-4. Albaladejo and Tuason had hits in the middle of the rally and Cole Ganino delivered a run with a sac fly.

Taylor came in and closed out the Warriors with two solid of innings of relief, surrendering no runs on one hit.

Jake Feighery delivered in a big way at the plate, batting .700 on the way to the Memorial Day Blast MVP award.

Trumbull 9U amassed 15 hits in the final. Balogh also went 7-for-10, Danny Scott had a home run and two doubles and went 6-for-12, Taylor was 4-for-5 and Recupero was 4-for-9 in the tournament.

“We cannot praise Diamond Nation enough,” said Buswell. “Our experience there over the years and this weekend has been great. We are a town-based team, so this is big time for us.” Buswell said 13 of his 14 players on the 15U team attend Trumbull High, a school with about 2,200 students.

“People should know that Diamond Nation is different than other tournament facilities,” said Buswell. “Marty Clark (Diamond Nation’s tournament director) has been incredible to us. Everyone there is nice, the umpires and staff all treat you well.”

It’s also not hard to see why Trumbull, Connecticut has been so successful in baseball over the decades. “We have a lot of pride in our program,” says Buswell. It shows.

Before it’s own championship game, Trumbull Travel 15U, rear, came out to cheer on the 9U team to a Memorial Day title.

Final thought: The Albaladejo family is omnipresent in the Trumbull Travel program. A.J. Albaladejo is one of the key ingredients on the 15U squad and younger brothers, Giovanni (13U) and Aiden (9U) have their own important responsibilities on the younger teams. “Aiden was four years old when A.J. started coming down to Diamond Nation,” said Buswell. “We are incredibly thankful our younger players have such good role models inside our program.”

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