Vernick helps NJ Jays 16U National taste victory in Fall League

By DN WRITING STAFF | September 22, 2023

Matteo Tramatula of NJ Jays 16U National dives back into first base ahead of pickoff throw. 

By Sean Reilly 

The Diamond Nation Fall League is all about getting extra reps, enhancing fundamentals and getting extra game action against quality competition. 

Those things are all well and good, but players also want to win. 

The NJ Jays 16U National went into Wednesday night’s game against Hillsborough Gold having lost its first three games of the league season. 

Dylan Vernick wanted a different result while making his first pitching start of the fall for the NJ Jays 16U National, and the right-hander delivered. 

Vernick allowed two runs on three hits over five strong innings, striking out five and walking one, as the Jays gained a 5-2 victory in Flemington. 

“This was really important for us,” said Vernick, a sophomore at Voorhees High School. “It’s our first win of the fall. You want to get reps, but you ultimately want to win games.”

The Jays won the game by scoring three times in the top of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie.

Leadoff man Colby Eisenbeil (2-for-3) started that rally by hitting a one-out single through the middle, and stole second with Cole Jacobus at the plate. 

Eisenbeil took off for third on a pitch that Jacobus hit into shallow left field. If caught, it would have been an easy inning-ending double play. Instead, it dropped in for an RBI single. 

“Honestly, I was trying to go oppo and take it into right field,” Jacobus said. 

Jacobus stole second before the next batter struck out. He scored when Matteo Tramatula (2-for-3) hit a hard ground-ball single into right-center field.

Vernick followed with a line drive single to right center which sent Tramatula to third. Graham Berry then hit a run-scoring single to center for the three-run lead.

Dylan Vernick allowed two runs on three hits over five innings for NJ Jays 16U National.

Jacobus, who relieved Vernick to start the sixth inning, pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to close out the win. He allowed no hits, with a walk and three strikeouts, in gaining the win.

The Jays took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Tramatula led off with an infield hit and stole second base with one out. He advanced to third on a balk with two out, and then scored on Trevor Lingerfield’s single to left field. 

The Jays added another run in the fourth. Eisenbeil (2-for-3) beat out a ball hit toward first base for a one-out single. He stole second, and after taking off toward third, made it home when Chase Garrow’s chopper in front of the plate resulted in an error at first base.

Vernick, who retired the first eight batters he faced before David Kandell reached on a two-out error in the third inning, came within one pitch of escaping trouble in the fourth.

Aidan Murphy led off that inning for Hillsborough by walking on a full count after fouling off three pitches. That sent up the top of the order, and Tommy Kester singled to left field. Shane Borer was retired on a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners to second and third. 

With the infield playing in position to concede a run, a hard ground out to third kept both runners in scoring position. 

Cleanup man Apoorva Nigam was the next batter, and he hit a game-tying grounds rule double that bounced over the fence in left field. 

Nigam was also the starting pitcher for Hillsborough, and pitched four solid innings, beginning with an opening frame in which he struck out the side with each batter looking at the third strike. Nigam allowed three hits and one earned run, with seven strikeouts and one walk. 

Vernick felt understandably good about his effort for the Jays. 

“My slider was working really well and my fastball, I was locating it until a little bit later in the game when the wheels started falling off a bit, but I battled through and we ultimately got the win,” he said. “I had really good help from my defense and that pushed me through it.”

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