The 15u Thunder Select - College Showcase team opened its tournament season with a visit to Villanova University and the greater Philadelphia area the weekend of June 2-3, finishing with two wins and a tie against stiff competition. Thunder players showcased their skills in the three-game format and were able to interact with attending college coaches, including coaches from UPenn, Villanova, Neumann, Marshall, La Salle, West Chester and Muhlenberg.
In Game 1 at La Salle University Saturday morning, the Thunder bats came alive to support starting pitcher James Gerard and relievers Christian Rubino-Chuckas and Connor Sullivan, who collectively allowed one run. Gerard, Chuckas, Mike Edwards and Craig Ottaviano led the offensive attack, while the Thunder defense was flawless.
In Game 2, Saturday afternoon at Archbishop Carroll/Cabrini College, the Thunder defense was shakier behind starter Michael Maloney and reliever Jake Morton. The Thunder spotted opponent Long Island Ducks a 6-2 lead before rallying for 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th to secure a 6-6 tie. The late rally was sparked by a Kevin Sanchez single and a bases-clearning triple by Chuckas.
Against the backdrop of a threatening sky at Villanova Univeristy Sunday afternoon, the Thunder won game 3 in another late inning comeback, this time erasing a 6-run deficit to defeat the New Jersey-based Fielders Choice team 8-7. Starter Patrick Teasdale, long reliever Ottaviano, and closer Chuckas combined for the win. The Thunder offense was led by Morton, Sullivan, Edwards and Chuckas. With the bases loaded and one out in the final frame, reliever Chuckas earned a save by inducing the FC batter to line over first base, which first baseman Maloney snagged on a great over-the-shoulder catch, turning to double off the first base runner to secure the win.
Jack Hoch, Matt O'Connor and Evan Pignataro contributed to the solid Thunder defense throughout the weekend.