Violent Spigs, crafty McCabe guide Super 14U in Grand Slam

By DN WRITING STAFF | October 1, 2023

Gino Spigarelli blasts a three-run triple to left center in the Diamond Jacks’ seven-run third inning.

By Rich Bevensee

The baseball swing of Diamond Jacks slugger Gino Spigarelli was described as violent. For the way he mixed his pitches, Diamond Jacks pitcher Nick McCabe was labeled crafty. 

The Diamond Jacks baseball program embodies many qualities, but “violent” and “crafty” got the job done on Saturday afternoon. 

Spigarelli’s three-run triple broke open the floodgates for the offense while McCabe maneuvered steadily through four innings to help steer Diamond Jacks Super 14U to a 15-6 pool play triumph over Delaware Fury Deery in the 15U Grand Slam at Diamond Nation in Flemington. 

The two programs were headed in opposite directions following the conclusion of play Saturday. 

The Diamond Jacks are one of three 2-0 teams and are in position for the second seed in the three-team playoff. They will face Baseball U PA-Scranton (1-1) on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The Fury is 0-2 and concludes Grand Slam play on Sunday with its final pool play game against Warehouse Indians ‘27 Purple (1-1) at 4:30 p.m.

The Diamond Jacks, playing up an age group this weekend, appeared prepared for the challenge. After taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a throwing error, the hosts batted around in the third and exploded for seven runs on five hits, two walks and one hit batsman. 

Spigarelli’s triple, his first of the fall, was the big blast in the third inning, a shot to the left center gap which cleared the bases and gave the Diamond Jacks a 6-0 lead. James Fenton added an RBI double in the inning. 

Spigarelli finished 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. 

“Gino has swung the bat well from the moment I started working with these guys,” Diamond Jacks coach Eric Schnepf said. “He always finds a gap, and he’s violent with the bat – the ball jumps off it – and he gives us confidence in the five hole.”

The Fury’s Noah Thompson chugs around third after his bases-loaded triple in the third.

“Every time I get in the box I try to visualize putting the ball in the gap,” Spigarelli said. “I’m not trying to do too much, just stay simple and hit a nice ball. There’s a fine line between getting in the box and looking to do damage, and getting in the box to stay simple and place some balls where they aren’t. That’s what happened today and I got a great outcome.”

McCabe did his best to escape trouble through his four innings of work. He allowed three runs on five hits and three walks and struck out three. 

“Nick did an awesome job,” Schnepf said. “He’s someone we’re relying on a lot. He’s consistent, he throws strikes, and he’s crafty – he picks kids off and gives our defense a chance to make plays.”

The only hard-hit ball McCabe surrendered was a Noah Thompson three-run triple in the third inning. Thompson was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch the hit into an inside-the-park homer. 

Other than that hit, McCabe stranded three and worked a perfect fourth to close out his effort. In the first inning, the Fury loaded the bases with two out but McCabe wiggled out of it with a strikeout. Spigarelli, McCabe’s catcher, was heard yelling, ‘Yeah, Nick!’ after the whiff. 

“I felt pretty good and I trusted the guys behind me,” said McCabe, who used a fastball, curve, cutter and changeup to keep the Fury off-balance.

He also said he appreciated Schnepf calling him crafty. 

“My pickoff move is one of my weapons,” McCabe said. “I use the fastball a lot but I mix my pitches pretty well. If you rely too heavily on one pitch it’s easy to predict.”

The Fury tried to crawl back into the game, scoring four runs across the third and fifth innings to get within 10-4, but the Diamond Jacks opened up the offensive floodgates once more in the sixth, batting around again and scoring five runs on three hits, two walks and two errors.  

Owen Rivenbark belted an RBI double while Jason Baker added an RBI single to fuel the rally.

In all, nine of 10 Diamond Jacks recorded a base hit and scored a run, and seven notched an RBI.

“Something we’ve put an emphasis on is having competitive at bats, and that’s something they did really well today, top to bottom,” Schnepf said. 

Rivenbark pitched the final two innings for the Diamond Jacks and permitted three runs on three hits and five walks and struck out two. 

For the Fury, Thompson drove in three runs, Kayden Hogan and August Zickgraf each had an RBI single, and Dylan Schmipf forced a run home with a bases loaded walk.

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