Velonas channels Maddux, leads FB Braves 14U past 3Up3Down White

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 13, 2023

Jack Velonas was stifling as he painted the corners for the FB Braves on Thursday.

By Luis Torres

AJ Flores, the head coach of FB Braves 14U, likened the performance of his starter, Jack Velonas, to two Hall of Fame pitchers that pitched for the Atlanta Braves: Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.

Velonas worked fast, wasting almost no time between pitches. And in almost Maddux-like form, the right-handed Velonas was untouchable.

Velonas tossed four shutout innings, needing just 42 pitches as he struck out five, leading FB Braves 14U to a 7-2 win in six innings over 3Up3Down White in 14U Diamond Nation World Series play on Thursday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Flores said the team name comes from watching the Braves when he was younger, which had Maddux and Glavine as part of the starting rotation. They would be proud of the performance Velonas put on.

“I was just pounding the zone,” Velonas said. “I was working the outside corner. I was just trying to throw strikes, and my teammates kept telling me, ‘Good job and keep pumping the zone.’”

Using his fastball to get ahead of hitters and by painting the corners, Velonas allowed just one hit and had one three-ball count his entire outing. He didn’t allow a runner to get past first base and he faced one batter above the minimum. Four of his strikeouts were looking.

The most pitches he threw in a frame were 15 in the first inning. He needed just seven pitches in the second, nine in the third and 11 in the fourth.

“Jack is always great. He just pounds the zone, throws strikes and hits his spots, and just trusts his fielders behind him,” Flores said. “He gets a lot of ground balls, a lot of weak flyouts. Again, just hits his spots and lives an inch or two off the plate. And if the ump is giving it to us, we’ll take it. He’ll thrive off of it.

“It reminds me kind of like Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine,” said Flores. “It’s like having those two guys out there just pounding the zone and hitting their spots.”

The FB Braves improved to 3-0-1 on the week, and although the Braves narrowly missed out on being one of the two pool winners, the Braves advanced to the separate Red and Green brackets of the tournament.

Santino Russo gets ready to rip for the FB Braves.

It didn’t take long for the FB Braves to give Velonas run support, scoring two runs in the opening frame, including an RBI single by Jake Wall. 

FB Braves were aggressive when they got on base, stealing five bases. Leadoff hitter Santino Russo went 1-for-2 with an RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases.

The lineup turned it over to Velonas from there, who dominated on the mound.

Blake Huston tossed the final two innings for the FB Braves. 3Up3Down White scored its two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on a wild pitch and a passed ball.

But Velonas’ pitching and some aggressive offense were more than enough for the FB Braves.

“The guys were running the bases well. We were taking extra bases when we had to,” Flores said. “We had some timely hitting, played some small ball and threw strikes. It’s a recipe for success.”

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