Domestic signature events schedule finishes strong with two big weekends in Boston

October 9, 2023

As the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series is set to go international once again with the second annual Caribbean Classic set for the Dominican Republic from October 12-15, it’s hard not to think about how strong the domestic slate of signature events finished up with both the Main Event and Underclass Elite held over the last two weekends in Boston.

Starting first with the Main Event, a weekend that’s helped produce current big leaguers like Grayson Rodriguez, Bo Naylor and Kyren Paris is surely set to churn out quite a few more from the 2023 installment, as many players showed up and showed out over the three-game series, which was held at both Fenway Park and Hartford’s Dunkin Donuts Park.

The Blue “Pinstripe” team pulled off the sweep, starting off by taking both games of Saturday’s doubleheader at Fenway Park.

Pinstripe used three big innings — a two-run first, a four-run fourth and a three-run eighth — to get past the Orange squad, 9-4, in the opener. Derrick “DJ” Layton led the charge with a two-hit performance, while a quartet of arms in Alex Hernandez, Jaden Barfield, Mason Middleton and Loic Guillemette managed to hold a loaded Orange lineup down for the majority of the game. Eli Crecelius delivered one of the event’s best pitching performances of the weekend in relief for Orange, spinning three hitless innings while striking out five.

In the nightcap, a strong starting pitching matchup eventually gave way to the bullpens, and Pinstripe once again came out on top, shutting out Orange, 6-0. A highly anticipated showdown of Pinstripe’s Bryce Navarre and Orange’s Cole Lanford was as advertised — they combined to allow just two hits while striking out nine over three scoreless frames each — with Pinstripe not breaking out until plating two runs in the fourth, followed by breaking it open two innings later with four more to cross the plate. T.J. Stottlemyre had the lone multi-hit game with two on the day for Pinstripe, while Jake Downing, Murchael Turner, Luca Perriello and John Pearson all drove in runs for the winning squad.

Sunday’s finale turned into more of a pitching showcase, as both teams combined for only four hits over the seven-inning contest, which Pinstripe took, 2-0. Another very strong starting pitching matchup set the tone for the day, as both Orange’s Justyn Hart and Pinstripe’s Josiah Romeo didn’t allow a hit throughout the duration of their three frames. Stottlemyre and Ryley Leininger drove in the runs for Pinstripe in the win, which was closed out by four scoreless innings split between Layton and Christian Oliveira.

One week later, the Future Stars Series would return to the Northeast for the Underclass Elite, with another rain-affected weekend maximized by the staff with a quick turn to Dirt Dawg Sports on Saturday changing the tone of the event, leading to a big finale to the weekend on Sunday.

First, however, there was Friday, where the Red team secured the series win by taking both games of a doubleheader back at Dunkin Donuts Park. After an impressive duel between Gold starter Michael Nicolini and Red’s Benton Hickman early, the Red squad got to the bullpen early and often, striking for 12 runs in three innings to cruise to a shortened, 12-2 win. Having freshly opened up his college options, T.J. Ford had a big game in going 2-for-5 with a double and a stolen base for Red while Chase Lewis and Christopher Flores also delivered big extra-base hits.

Red turned it on late in the nightcap, ending up with a 10-2 victory over the Gold squad in Game 2 despite a strong start from Landon Cochran, who spun four innings without allowing an earned run in the loss. Red again did the majority of their damage against the bullpen, plating two runs in the fifth and then six more runs over the final two frames; Isaiah Reveron and Dale Sutton both had multi-hit games, with Sutton producing three RBI in the win.

There were, however, some significant defensive lapses on Friday, which led to the development staff using a rain-soaked Saturday as an indoor-development day, working with players on many of the issues that plagued the games in Hartford. The result? A crisp Sunday finale at New Hampshire’s Delta Dental Stadium, won by the Red team, 12-3, to ultimately sweep the series.

Only one error was committed over the nine-inning contest, one in which 12 different players on the Red team had at least one hit. That includes Tajhai Smith, who led the charge with a 2-for-6 in which he had a triple and drove in three runs. Aiden Poe struck out an event-high six in his three innings of work, followed by Marshall Louque, Connor Simpson and Jacob Schwope shutting the door the rest of the way.

Mike Ashmore
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