Chatham’s 10U Blue baseball team travelled to Branchburg over June 23, 24 and July 1 to compete in the 17th annual Branchburg Baseball Tournament. The Cougars opened the tournament on Saturday with strong wins over Somerville (20-4) and South Orange (15-4). Against Somerville, pitchers John Shehadi, Luke Fekete and Jack Hepp combined to strike out six while Matt Connolly led the offense going 2-for-2 with three runs scored. Against South Orange, Tyler Cook and Drew Mitzak pitched effectively to dispatch the opposing Cougars. At the plate, Alex Molinaro went 2-for-2, smacking a double and a single as well as two runs scored. Peter Schelling continued his expert base running scoring twice and Jack Powers also singled and scored twice.
On Sunday, Chatham Blue faced off against Montgomery and Bridgewater, winning both games by a combined score of 35-11. Luke Fekete, working with Chatham’s stingy defense, kept the opponent in check by striking out five batters over three innings of work. Ryan Mancino showed his power at the plate by crushing a double and scoring twice.
In the fourth and final game of the opening weekend, Chatham faced a tough Bridgewater club. After falling behind early 2-0 and the coaches thinking maybe the long weekend might get the better of the boys, “The Blues” scored six in the first inning, four in the second and eight runs in the fourth to take the victory and sweep the weekend. Chris Failla singled twice and scored twice and Matt Nonnenmacher singled and scored twice to rally the team.
There was no rest for the weary as the boys then played and won three league games during the week before they headed back to Branchburg and the tournament playoffs on Sunday, July 1.
As top seed heading into the championship round of the tournament, Chatham again faced off against Montgomery, who came ready to play. Montgomery took a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning before the Chatham bats woke up behind starter Tyler Cook, who struck out four over two innings. Drew Mitzak and John Shehadi smacked back to back doubles and Peter Schelling singled home an RBI as Chatham took a 2-1 lead after 2 innings.
Matt Connolly then took the mound for Chatham and in workman-like effort pitched the final four frames and struck out seven batters to keep Montgomery in check. Chatham added two runs in each of the thrid and fourth. A two-out rally in the third was started by Jack Powers on a perfectly executed bunt. Matt Connolly, Luke Fekete and Tyler Cook each then singled behind Powers resulting in two runs. Drew Mitzak and John Shehadi scored again in fourth after singling and doubling respectively and being driven in by Chris Failla. Alex Molinaro continued his prowess at the plate with a hard double in the fifth. Montgomery staged a late rally but Matt Connolly and the Chatham defense closed the door on them in the sixth. The final score, Chatham 6 and Montgomery 2.
In the Championship game, the Chatham bats started early against a tough Bridgewater club behind starting pitcher John Shehadi as they jumped out to an early 5 -3 lead after two. Matt Connolly and Luke Fekete started off with back to back singles and both scored on Tyler Cook’s triple in the fist. In the second inning, Peter Schelling singled and scored on a triple rocketed to the left field fence by RJ Mancino, who was then promptly driven in by Matt Nonnenmacher. In the third inning, Chatham added two more runs by Cook and Jack Hepp and added to the lead in the fourth scoring five runs behind pitcher Luke Fekete, who struck out four over three innings. Working with the tough Chatham defense and noteworthy putouts by Luke Fekete on a grounder down the third base line, Chris Failla, ranging far to his left to snag a pop fly at second base. Jack Hepp and Jack Powers entered the game in relief to pitch the fifth and sixth inning to close out the game and stifle a late Bridgewater rally as Chatham won the final game 12-8.
All of the coaches are extremely proud of each and every one of the boys as it was a total team win with every boy contributing.