Wiltsey, Vaccarella steer U.S. Prime Oilers in Super 17

By Bob Behre | June 20, 2024

Bernie Hargadon draws a walk to ignite a three-run rally in the fourth inning for U.S. Prime Oilers.

Tyler Wiltsey triggered two early rallies and righthander Joe Vaccarella pitched three clean innings to guide U.S. Prime Oilers National to a 9-4 victory over the Diamond Jacks Super 16U on Wednesday.

U.S. Prime gained the upper hand with a four-run first inning while Vaccarella shut out Super 16U over the first three innings of the Super 17 Invitational at Diamond Nation.

Vaccarella, an intimidating presence on the mound at 6-4, 210 pounds, faced one batter above the minimum in his three innings of work as he permitted one hit, struck out two, walked none and hit a batter.The Tulane commit threw a very economical 38 pitches as he utilized a high-80s fastball.

The rising senior Wiltsey, who already has 101 career hits for perennial Group 1 power Audubon, singled, hit a two-run home run, scored three runs and drove in a pair.

“It was a good day,” said Wiltsey, who said his only goals of the summer are to hit the ball hard and catch everything his way in center field.

Jason Fultz of U.S. Prime dives back to first base as Lorenzo Maselli of Super 16U awaits the throw.

Wiltsey got things going in the bottom of the first inning for U.S. Prime when he drove a sinking liner to left field that got past a diving Mike Novotny for three bases. After Evan Taylor drew a walk, Wiltsey scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch.Taylor would score from third on a wild pick off attempt at second before Gavin Cohen capped the four-run rally with a two-run double inside the first base line.

The bottom of the U.S. Prime order sparked a rally in the second inning. Bernie Hargadon, the No. 10 hitter, singled to right field with one out. Leadoff hitter Joe Eraci then reached on a fielder’s choice before Wiltsey launched a 1-2 pitch from Artie Conover over the fence in left for a two-run homer.

“I got a changeup,” said Wiltsey, a Rutgers commit. “I was looking off-speed and got one low-middle.” Both Wiltsey and Vaccarella, a rising senior at Gloucester Catholic, are new to the U.S. Prime squad and coach Ed Charlton this summer, and Charlton is enjoying the new blood on an already strong team.

“Ty’s got that short swing and is athletic as hell,” said Charlton. “He’s been a fun addition to the team.”

Vaccarella surrendered a one-out single to Danny Contiliano in the first, but catcher Griffin Clarke gunned down the Hunterdon Central outfielder trying to steal second base. After a 1-2-3 second inning, Vaccarella plunked John Rossman with two outs in the third. He then induced Deacon Moore to pop out to Erace at shortstop to end his efficient three innings.

“Vacc’ is a bulldog,” said Charlton. “He paints the zone. The dude just pitches. He just wants to win.”

The Diamond Jacks shaved the deficit to 6-2 with a pair of runs in the fourth. The rally started at the top of the order as Zach Geertsma led off with an infield single to the left side. Contiliano (2-for-2, 2 runs) drew a walk and both runners pulled off a double steal with Lorenzo Maselli at the plate. Both runners scored as Maselli reached on a throwing error.

Kayden Vishnesky of Super 16U fires to the plate and U.S. Prime batter Gavin Cohen.

As good teams will do, U.S. Prime tacked on three runs in the fourth to extend its lead to 9-2. Reliever Kayden Vishnesky deserved a better fate as Super 16U committed two errors to contribute mightily to the three-run rally. Hargadon drew a one-out walk and scored when Wiltsey’s shot to left was dropped. Taylor doubled home Wiltsey and scored on an infield error.

The Diamond Jacks, to their credit, kept coming.

Geertsma (2-for-3, 2 runs), Contiliano and Maselli got it going again for the Diamond Jacks in the sixth, each ripping a single to load the bases with one out. Novotny and Mike Basile each drew a two-out walk to force home runs, shaving the deficit to 9-4. But reliever Cole McKenna closed out the victory with a strikeout looking.

NOTES: Charlton had a terrific high school career at St. Augustine Prep in Richland (Atlantic County). He was such a factor in leading the Hermits to the 2011 Non-Public A championship, the school’s first state title, that he was named the Atlantic City Press’ Player of the Year. From there he went on to an impressive college career at N.J. Tech and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 23rd round of the 2015 MLB Draft.

Still proud of his Cape Atlantic League roots, U.S. Prime is based out of Charlton’s hometown of Egg Harbor and his roster is dotted with players from that talent-rich area of the state. “We do have a Cape Atlantic flavor,” he said, “with kids from Egg Harbor, Mainland, Ocean City and St. Augustine.”

Geertsma was also the leadoff hitter this spring for NJSIAA Group 2 champion Gov. Livingston.

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