Top Tier 15u Intersquad Games Recap

New Lenox, IL- It was an eventful weekend for Top Tier Baseball. The 15U players played games against each other to help better prepare themselves for their upcoming tournaments. Their games were played in the scorching heat, making the games that much harder. Not to mention, players had to adapt to swinging with wood bats instead of the BBCOR metal they used during the high school season. Nonetheless, the weekend was an exciting one as it featured blowouts, close-games, and even a couple of walk-offs.

Let’s take a look back at how each team faired during their 3 games this weekend:


15U Nationals-White vs. 15U Nationals-Navy

This game was a perfect way to kick off the weekend on Friday night, as both teams looked to shake off the rust from the time off since the end of the high school season and prove their worth to their coaches. The 15U Nationals-White came out and set the tone early, going deep into counts, and pilling up a couple runs to take an early lead. Outfielder Jeffrey Wright was an early standout for Nationals-White, going 2-3 with a double and a single. But after weathering the storm, the Nationals-Navy buckled down on defense before coming alive with the bats late. In the bottom of the 7th inning the Nationals-Navy were down one with two outs. Head coach Carter Turnquist looked for someone to put the ball in play as they had men on first and second. That’s when catcher, Brett Kuczynski laced a ball to the left-center gap for a 2 RBI game-winning double, giving the Nationals-Navy a 7-6 victory over Nationals-White.

15U Nationals vs. 15U Nationals-White

Saturday morning was similar to Friday night’s game, as it ended in another walk off between the Top Tier baseball teams. The Nationals got out in front right away after multiple errors by the Nationals-White defense. This put them in position to take a 1-0 lead after the 1st. But, that lead didn’t last long. The Nationals-White were able to string together a couple of hits to get the lead back 2-1. Things changed again in the sixth inning as the Nationals played small ball, executing a perfect hit-and-run to take the lead 5-2 going into the 7th inning. That’s when Daniel Baumgartner hit a 2 RBI double on a 3-2 count to lift the Nationals-White team to a 5-4 walk-off victory. “I knew it was going to be a good pitch,” said Baumgartner. “I just wanted to barrel something up.”

15U North vs. 15U Morris

The second game wasn’t nearly as close. The North team, led by head coach Brian Duffy, was aggressive early, stealing bases left and right. The North jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead after taking walks and moving the runners over by putting balls in play. Morris climbed back however, after a two-run Home Run by Zak Lakowski. Although, 15U North player Matt Dworsky proved to be too much as he went 3-4 with 3 RBI’s and a double. “I just saw the ball really well today,” said Dworsky. “They were throwing the ball inside so I just looked to turn on it.” Head coach Brian Duffy was pleased with his teams first performance of the season. “I thought we played a clean, fundamental game. We had zero walks, and we had good approaches at the plate.” said Duffy. The North won the game 8-3.

15U Americans vs. 15U North

This was no doubt the most surprising game of the weekend, as the North was able to top the Americans in a close one. The North had American’s starting pitcher Jack Bruington on the ropes early, as they were able to score in the top of the 1st on a wild pitch. After that he couldn’t seem to adjust his delivery time with runners on base, allowing the North continually stole second and third base. Starting pitcher Justin Fine for the North, got his first start in two years after coming off an injury last summer. Fine pitched two scoreless innings as he pounded the strike zone. “My fastball was really working for me,” said Fine. “It was also good to see my curve ball work the way that it did, it worked well as my second pitch.” It also didn’t help that the Americans hurt themselves, committing unforced errors on infield pop-ups and ground balls. Down 0-2, the Americans brought in right handed pitcher Giovanni Herrera who shut down the North’s offense with six strikeouts in three innings. Still, with Herrera’s great pitching, the Americans couldn’t get a rally going late, as they fell to the North 4-2. “I think we are going to get a lot of respect now knowing that we beat the Americans,” said Sammy Dubin.

15U Americans vs. 15U Nationals-Navy

In a high scoring affair, the 15U Americans closed out Saturday night in winning fashion. It would not be easy for them early on however, as Kevin Schoefernacker of the Nationals-Navy hit an absolute bomb to dead center field, giving him a solo home run to tie the game at 1-1 after the 2nd. Following that, starting pitcher for the Americans, John Zimmermann responded with a lead off double to the left-center gap that sparked a rally to give the Americans a 2-1 lead. After the Nationals-Navy tied it 2-2 in the third, the Americans rallied. Scoring two in the 4th before pilling it on in the 5th where they scored four more runs. The Nationals-Navy never gave up however, scoring three runs late. It would prove to be too little too late though as they fell to the Americans 9-5. “I thought we did really well today,” said Zimmermann. “But, there are a lot of things we can improve upon this upcoming season.” Teammate Lucas Spence said it was a quick turnover to adjust to wood bats but he knew his team would be able to figure it out. “I don’t think we started the game well, but by the end of the day we were able to put a few hits together and ended up winning the game.” said Spence.

15U Americans vs. 15U Nationals

Sunday’s match ups began with the classic “Americans vs Nationals”. In a high energy game, both pitchers came to play. Pitchers Kyle Mack and Michael Brescia traded off 1-2-3 innings to begin the game. The first run came off a strategic play. The Americans had their player purposely get picked off first so that Jacob Butcher could score from third before the first base runner on first was tagged out in a rundown. This was a huge momentum play as it gave the Americans a 1-0 lead. That’s all that Mack needed as he led the Americans pitching staff with a weekend high eight strikeouts. “I just got ahead in the count with my fastball which allowed me to use my changeup more which resulted in good things.” Said Mack. The Nationals seemed overwhelmed by the velocity of the Americans pitchers. As they could not put the ball in play, which resulted in them having 12 strikeouts. This allowed the Americans to cruise to an easy 6-0 victory. One standout for the Americans was Jack Bruington, who hit a laser double and had a sliding catch that saved a run in left field. “Everything was working for me today, I was seeing the ball well off the bat as well as from the pitcher’s hand,” said Bruington.


15U Nationals vs 15U Morris

The 15U Nationals closed out their weekend with a battle. Billy Kouris started on the mound for the Nationals and struggled with command early, totaling two walks and a hit batter in two innings on the mound. Even while he was struggling, he never gave up, staying mentally tough, which allowed him to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the 2nd inning. Alec Mallinder, from Top Tier Nationals, hit a RBI single with the bases loaded to put the Nationals out in front 1-0 in the 4th. To add to the carnage, right fielder Chris Akers extended the lead in the 5th after a 3 RBI triple over the right fielder’s head to put the Nationals up 4-0. “I think my triple helped put the pressure on Morris,” said Akers. “It definitely got the momentum going for us again.” But after some errors by the Nationals infielders, 15U Morris was able to get runners into scoring position putting balls into play and moving the runners over. This eventually led to Morris’s first run. Next, Nationals pitcher, Joe Zaccone walked-in a base runner with the bases loaded, giving Morris another run. Eventually, Zaccone was able to work around the action and escape the inning with little damage as they were ahead 7-3 going into the 7th. That’s when head coach Austin Jetel looked for Danny Nuccio to come in relief to seal the victory for the Nationals. And that’s exactly what he did. “We know we got a good ball club here,” said Kouris. “There are a lot of good players and athletes on this team”.


15U Morris vs. 15U Nationals-Navy

The 15U Morris team finally got the win they were desperately seeking in their final game of the weekend. It came at the expense of the Nationals-Navy team. Runs didn’t come early however, as both teams started the game with a 1-2-3 inning. They went back and forth exchanging pitching duels until coach Griffin Phelps put Kevin Schoefernacker into pitch. The big lefty struggled to find the zone as he walked three batters in the bottom of the third inning. This led to Morris scoring on an RBI single, giving them a 1-0 lead. Schoefernacker was able to avoid any further damage after forcing a groundout to third base, giving the Nationals-Navy their third out. The most interesting part of this game came in the bottom of the fourth when coach Phelps decided to leave in Schoefernacker on the mound with bases loaded and no outs. At this point, Schoefernacker threw a fastball on the inside corner to which Bryce Schaum hit a 2 RBI blooper into left field. “I thought Schoefernacker did a good job on getting the guy on his front foot, he just hit a duck-snort blooper,” said Phelps. “Looking back on it 20/20 hindsight you know, Schuster threw pretty well, but this early in the season, you got to let guys figure out what their capable of.” The Nationals-Navy had one final chance in the 7th inning however. They had bases loaded with one out before coach Phelps sent Jason Kusibab from second base to try and score on a grounder where he was thrown out at home. “If you think you have it then take, and I thought I had it, I thought I was safe but it wasn’t up to me, it just didn’t work out this time,” said Kusibab in regards to being thrown out at home plate. Following that big play, Morris won the game 5-2.


15U Nationals-White vs. 15U North

Wrapping up the weekend was a relatively close matchup between the North and Nationals-White teams. The North looked to close out the weekend as the only undefeated team. Meanwhile the Nationals-White were looking to end the week going positive, and finish 2-1. Just like all weekend long, the North continued its aggressive nature on the base paths, as it totaled over ten steals for the game. “You’ve got to apply the pressure to the catcher and force him to make errors. If you do that then you can get extra bases,” said Alex Gonzalo. “If they make a good play then you just got to tip your cap.” Rightfully so, their relentlessness on the bases allowed them to get into prime scoring positons when their premiere hitters were due to the plate. Ryan Guy for the North had a solid performance at the plate, going 2-4 with a double a 3 RBI’s. “I just looked to put them ball in play and put pressure on the defense to make a play,” said Guy. Undoubtedly, this will be a team to lookout for this season at the 15U age level. “It feels good to go undefeated this weekend and be the top dogs, hopefully we can continue this all year,” said Gonzalo.

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