Written by Tom Augello
The New Jersey Jays 18U fall baseball team, based out of Flemington Baseball Academy, captured the Hit Doctor Fall Fever Tournament in Columbus, the weekend of Oct. 5-6.
The Jays opened their group play against the Diamondhawks and faced an early 4-0 first inning deficit. Peddie junior Jonathan Hu held the Diamondhawks scoreless the remaining way, holding the Diamondhawks hitless after allowing four singles in the first inning. In the seventh inning, RBI singles by Hillsborough senior Brian Cole and Hunterdon Central juniors John Korn and Henry Hawkins weren’t enough in a 4-3 loss.
In pool game two against South Jersey Elite, the Jays put up four runs of their own in the first, a walk to North Hunterdon junior Austin Arndt, followed with RBI singles by North Hunterdon junior Shayne Fontana and Hunterdon Central junior Nick Luciano. Del Val senior Adam Novotny’s grounded out, scoring Central junior John Korn. Fontana’s RBI single in the second and Luciano’s RBI double extended the lead and a seven run explosion in the 5th, led by Novotny and Fontana two-run doubles and Warren Hills junior Craig Lawson’s RBI double, capped off a 14-0 Jays win.
Hillsborough junior Matt Johnson and North Hunterdon senior Kurt Thompson combined for a two hit, three walk, five strikeout effort.
The Jays received the third seed and faced fourth seed Full Count in the opening round. Somerville junior lefty Ethan Kornbrek fired a complete game two-hit shutout, walking one and striking out seven. The Jays picked up all the runs they needed in the first inning as Lawson’s two-run single scored Hunterdon Central junior Henry Hawkins and Fontana in a 2-0 win.
In the semifinals, the Jays squared off with the second seed Pandolfini Sports Academies that ended with a wild finish. The Jays opened the scoring with RBI singles by Korn and Luciano in the first, scoring Arndt and Hawkins. After a Pandolfini run in the third, Novotny singled home Warren Hills senior Alex Juilan in the fourth, followed by Pandolfini tying the game with two runs in the fifth inning. The game headed to extra innings, and each team started the inning with bases loaded and one out. After both teams scored two runs in the eighth inning, Arndt capped a five run burst with a three-run double, in a 10-5 Jays victory. Fontanta took the win and Arndt picked up the save.
The championship game pitted the Jays versus top seeded South Jersey Sand Sharks, who entered the finals 4-0. Arndt and Hawkins started the game with walks and both scored on a homerun to rightfield by Fontana. Lawson plated Fontana in the fourth extending the Jays lead to 4-1, and scored Luciano on a sacrifice fly in the seventh to close out the scoring. Arndt, the game MVP, went the distance, allowing six hits, striking out seven with no walks in the 5-1 win.
“Coach Faherty and I challenged the team to compete the entire weekend and have fun doing it,” said Jays coach Tom Augello, “It’s no easy feat winning three baseball games in one day, we were able to build momentum after our second group game and the players really took it from there. As a program we have a great group of kids that love to compete and play the game. This team is made up of current juniors and seniors who have the potential to play beyond high school. With our first group playing in college, players like North grads Justin Trinity(Mt St Mary University) and CJ Rasile (Mercer CC) and Del Val grad Reed Williams(Franklin & Marshall) exemplify the levels of play one can reach with a dedicated work ethic and commitment to improve.”