The 15u Thunder team won the 2017 Colombus Day Slugfest Tournament at CT Sportsplex with a perfect 4-0 record against stiff competition.
In the opener Saturday afternoon, the Thunder defeated Team Connecticut 1-0, as Craig Ottaviano pitched a masterful complete-game 1-hit shutout with no walks. Jason Brennan drove in the sole run of the game on a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Calvin McKeever who avoided the tag at home with a great head-first slide. Jake Morton had 2 hits while Will Gordon, Brennan and McKeever each added a hit.
In game 2 Saturday, the Thunder came out strong, defeating the Dirtdawgs 8-1 behind starter Jake Morton, who allowed no runs on one hit while striking out two and walking none over his three innings pitched. Christian Rubino-Chuckas (2 innings scoreless), Brennan and Jason Carroll all pitched in relief to help secure the win. Patrick Teasdale (2 RBI), McKeever, Jack Hoch (RBI), Brennan, (RBI, 3 Sb) and Morton (double, RBI) each collected one hit. Will Gordon also drove in a run.
On Sunday, the Thunder opened with an early-morning win, defeating Team Connecticut in a rematch of Saturday's first game, but this time the Thunder jumped out early and secured the win 11-5 to earn a spot in the championship game. Starter Rubino-Chuckas allowed four runs on three hits over two innings, while Teasdale (3.1 innings, 1 run, 1 hit) and Jake Morton (.2 inn, 0 runs, 0 hits) came out of the bullpen to assist. Offensively, Hoch lead the team with 3 RBI and a double. Teasdale (2 RBI, double) and Ottavanio (RBI, double) each had two hits. Kevin Sanchez (single) and Will Gordon each scored twice.
The Thunder faced off against the CT Hurricanes in the championship game which Thunder starter Jack Hoch dominated, pitching 5 innings and striking out 8 while allowing 2 earned runs; however, the Thunder bats wouldn't come alive until Hoch and both relievers were done for the day. Morton relieved and again threw scoreless/hitless ball, this time over 1 and 2/3 innings. Rubino-Chuckas earned the win by recording the final out in the top of the 7th, making him the pitcher of record for the drama that would follow.
The Thunder, down 3-0 going into the bottom of the 7th, saved their best for last. Carroll and Teasdale both singled to start the inning, and Kevin Sanchez followed with a walk to load the bases. Hoch then doubled off the centerfield fence to drive in Carroll and Teasdale, with Sanchez ending up on third and Hoch at second. Rubino-Chuckas reached on an error by the third baseman that scored Sanchez to tie the game, and Calvin McKeever promptly lined a single to left field for the walk-off win.
The Thunder dedicated the dramatic victory to teammates Evan Pignataro and Jake Benner, both of whom were out of action due to season-ending injuries.