By Joe Hofmann
Back … back … Domenic Eppolito’s towering drive to right field kept going and going and …
Would that baseball ever come down?
It did – over the right field fence for a three-run homer.
The mammoth blast helped lift Uncommon Baseball Black to a 15-1 mercy rule victory over the Diamond Jacks 10U in three innings in the School’s Out 10U championship game held at Diamond Nation on Sunday.
Eppolito was 3-for-3 with seven RBIs, including a two-run single in the first and a two-run triple in the third.
Not bad for a 9-year-old playing up.
“He’s one of our youngest players,” winning coach Gavin Leary said. “He’s a great natural athlete. He has no idea just how good he could be. He is as talented as they come. It was certainly one of his best games and for it to come in a championship game in this setting says a lot about him.”
The outpouring of offense also said a lot about Uncommon, which piled up baserunner after baserunner during all three innings.
Fittingly, the team gathered around home plate for the post game awards, which saw the team presented with a plaque. Dominant starting pitcher James Ficaro was awarded with the game’s Most Valuable Player honor.
In the first, Uncommon showed what was to come when it scored four times. Billy Gillespie walked to lead off and Landon Barnett singled before Hunter Schweikart singled in the first run.
After Eppolito singled in two, Devin Barkmeyer singled in another.
In the second inning, the baserunners and runs kept coming.
Evan Sue singled and scored on an outfield error. Barnett singled and Schweikart walked, setting the stage for Eppolito’s home run.
In the third, Gillespie and Schweikart singled before Eppolito brought them home with a triple. Ficaro tripled home Eppolito.
The hard-throwing Ficaro fanned six in three innings, walking only one.
“James is the ace of the staff,” Leary said. “He threw a ton of strikes.”
Ficaro made good use of lefty catcher Barkmeyer, who played stellar defense and had an RBI single in the first inning.
“What a great weekend he had for us,” Leary said. “There is no one I trust more behind the plate than Devin.”
Just one day earlier, Uncommon appeared destined to lose by the mercy rule. Leary’s team fell behind by 10 runs against Hustle Baseball (Fairfield, N.J.) but scratched and clawed its way back and somehow came away with a one-run victory thanks to back-to-back home runs by Sue (an inside-the-park HR which culminated a 10-pitch at bat to tie the game) and Ficaro, who won it with his home run.
Uncommon, based out of Montgomery County, Pa., went on to beat the Diamond Jacks in the next round on Saturday, 14-0.
Uncommon’s title-game victory over the Diamond Jacks was mighty sweet, but there is more work to be done. Leary’s team travels to the 10U Perfect Game Tournament in Marlton, N.J. next weekend.
“That’ll be tough,” he said. “There will be a lot of powerful teams down there.”
It was the second tournament championship this year for Uncommon, which has also captured a six-team tourney in Newtown, Pa.
There is something else the team is after: Beating their nemesis, the Dream Chasers of Brooklyn. That might be Uncommon’s ultimate goal.
“That’s a level we can jump to,” Leary said. “That’s our goal. That’s one team we have trouble with. We’ve tied them one time, but that is the level we are trying to get to.”
Winning the tournament this weekend is impressive when you consider how far Uncommon has come. When the team assembled as 8-year-olds, they were routinely 10-runned, according to Leary. He added that the team “doesn’t breed baseball players” but simply works with what they have in their own organization, which is located in Conshohocken, Pa.,
“We have some great kids,” he said. “Us winning this is all about them and what they are all about.”
SCHOOL’S OUT RECAPS
UNCOMMON BASEBALL 10U BLACK
Uncommon Baseball 10U Black defeated the Diamond Jacks 10U squad, 15-1, in the 10U School’s Out tournament championship game. Jame Ficaro of Uncommon Baseball was named the 10U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Uncommon Baseball (3-0) outscored its opponents 45-16. The Diamond Jacks (2-2) were outscored by their opponents, 30-18.
Centercourt Makos defeated the Diamond Jacks Super 11U, 8-7, in the 11U School’s Out tournament championship game. Centercourt (3-0-1) outscored its opponents 53-21. The Diamond Jacks (3-1) held a 40-11 runs advantage on their opponents.
The PA Shockers defeated the Dust Devils, 10-6, in the 12U School’s Out tournament championship game. Carter Tucholski of the Shockers was named the 12U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Shockers (4-0) outscored their opponents 35-16. The Dust Devils (3-1) held a 57-20 runs advantage on their opponents.
FULL COUNT BASEBALL
Full Count Baseball defeated Hustle Baseball Academy, 8-4, in the 14U School’s Out tournament championship game. Mikey Tripodi of Full Count was named the 14U tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Full Count (4-1) outscored its opponents 29-24. Hustle Baseball Academy (4-1) held a 39-21 runs advantage on its opponents.
BUCKS COUNTY GENERALS 2025s
The Bucks County Generals 2025s defeated Diamond Studs Baseball 15U, 9-4, in the 15U White Bracket School’s Out championship game. Bucks County (4-0) outscored its opponents 32-6. Diamond Studs Baseball (4-1) held a 31-23 runs advantage on its opponents.
MORRIS COUNTY CUBS NAVY
Morris County Cubs Navy defeated York Young Revolution, 11-1, in the 15U Gold Bracket School’s Out championship game. Morris County Cubs (4-0-1) outscored their opponents 53-9. York Young Revolution (3-1) held a 28-15 runs advantage on its opponents.
The top five finishers advanced to the Super 25 Showcase on August 15. They are Baseball U. Anthracite (3-0, 27-2), Interstate Baseball (3-0, 25-4), Morris County Cubs Navy (2-1, 21-9), Wladyka Baseball (2-1, 27-13) and Prospects Baseball Academy (2-1, 23-17).