Weaver, McNulty guide Spitfire to Fall Invitational title

By Bob Behre | October 7, 2019

MacKenzie Weaver tossed a five-hitter and Summer McNulty delivered the decisive run with a single in her team’s final at bat as Spitfire edged East Coast Tsunami, 5-4, in the 18U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational championship game on Sunday at Diamond Nation.

Weaver was tough on the East Coast Tsunami batters, offering an unpleasant selection of five pitches as she permitted four runs, only one of which was earned, in the four-inning game. McNulty’s single to center field extended the Spitfire lead to 5-2 in the top of the fourth inning.

Weaver, who struck out four and walked two, was named the 14U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational Most Valuable Player.

Spitfire’s tack on run proved huge when East Coast Tsunami rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fourth to close within 5-4. Jenna Devens ignited the rally when she reached on an infield error with one out and moved to second on Marli Weller’s two-out walk. Both runners scored on Sam Perez’s single to center field.

Weller kept charging around third base on Perez’s single and scored all the way from first base to shave the Spitfire lead to 5-4. Perez took second on the throw to the plate. Gianni Alberti then drew a walk to put the go-ahead run on base. That was significant as both teams were aware the tournament’s game time limit was fast approaching.

Weaver, like she had all game, met the challenge, striking out the next batter on a fastall to end the game.

“My curveball was working real well and so was my outside fastball,” said Weaver. “I threw some good screwballs, too. I’ve been working on the screwball just the last month.” Weaver also worked in a changeup and drop to keep the rugged East Coast Tsunami lineup at bay.

Julia Swan was outstanding in the circle in a losing effort for East Coast Tsunami. Swan permitted five runs, only three of which were earned, on seven hits, struck out five and walked none as she repeatedly challenged the Spitfire batters. 

The fourth-seeded Spitfire took the initiative against second-seeded East Coast Tsunami, striking for a run in the top of the first inning. McNulty started things with a leadoff single, stole second and raced to third when the throw to second sailed into center field. After Lexi Rogers was hit by a pitch, Isabella Griswald lofted a fairly deep fly ball to left field and the sac fly scored McNulty easily from third.

Spitfire, based out of Williamsport, Pa., kept firing in the second, erupting for three more runs to extend its lead to 4-0. Kaylah Thompson started it by reaching on an infield single. She beat out a slow bouncer to the right side. Jade Swartz followed with a hard single through the left side and Spitfire was in business.

Jordan McCarthy then reached on a short pop up behind the pitcher’s mound that went for a single and scored Thompson from third. McNulty, in the middle of things again, brought Swartz home with a fielder’s choice bouncer to the right side. Weaver capped the rally with a single down the left field line that scored McCarthy from third for a 4-0 lead.

“We got our bats going, the pitching came through and we made some plays defensively,” said Spitfire coach Jonathan Weaver. “We came out played the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

So did East Coast Tsunami (5-1) for that matter and the squad from Bergen County had an answer for Spitfire’s quick start, bringing across a pair of runs of it’s own in the bottom of the second. Singles by Kayla O’Brien, Weller and Perez loaded the bases for East Coast Tsunami with one out. O’Brien scored on a passed ball with Gianna Alberti at the plate and Alberti hit a fielder’s choice grounder to the right side that scored Weller.

East Coast Tsunami’s rally in the second could have been bigger had it not been for a play Weaver made on Jenna Devens leading off the inning. Devens hit a one-hop laser back to the circle that Weaver somehow snared and turned into a 1-3 out at first base. Weaver would strand Perez on third base when she got the final batter on a grounder to first base.

“It’s not easy to pull this together in the fall,” said Spitfire coach Weaver. “Some girls play other sports so it’s tough to get ready to play. These girls won ASA Nationals this summer, so it’s a very good team. Our first game this weekend was awful, but we found it. This is a great group and fun to coach.”

Spitfire (5-1) dropped its opener to Kaboom Barbero (4-1), 7-2, before rallying to outscored its next five opponents 46-7. East Coast Tsunami held a 39-18 runs advantage on its Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational opponents.

NOTES: Both teams made slick plays defensively and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Tsunami second baseman Alberti made a nice play chasing down a pop-up behind first base in the fourth inning. … Spitfire fielders made two nice plays that helped Weaver in a 1-2-3 first inning. Shortstop McNulty backhanded a grounder in the hole and fired to first for the first out of the inning. Rightfielder Avery Eiswerth came charging in to snare a sinking liner for the third out of the first inning.

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