Baseball: San Benito’s Tonascia thrives at national showcase

Baler catcher Jacob Tonascia throws out a runner at first during the game Wednesday.

Cary, N.C. – San Benito High senior Jacob Tonascia made the best of his chance to impress baseball scouts on the national stage over the weekend.

Last year’s Tri-County Athletic League Most Valuable Player, who batted .309 with two home runs last year, was invited to the United States 17-and-under National Team Identification Series program in North Carolina over the weekend, representing the Northern California team. Tonascia was joined by 18 players from Northern California. Sixteen teams from across the country participated in the event.

“The experience was amazing,” Tonascia said. “It was a great experience playing with some of the best players and against the best players in the country.”

Tonascia, who started in all three games over the weekend, went 3-for-9 with three singles and two RBIs. In those three games, Northern California went 1-2, losing to Southwest 4-3 and Southern California 6-2. The team’s only victory – a 9-2 win – came against the Northwest.

“It was pretty insane,” Tonascia said. “It was the best pitching that I’ve faced. It was tough.”

Behind the plate, Tonascia threw out two runners at second base, as he continued his summer-long improvement at catcher, he said.

“It was a higher level of competition,” he said. “It showed me a lot on what I need to work on to get better and play at that level.”

Tonascia will find out if he made the national squad on Sept. 15. After the weekend, Tonascia’s confidence is high.

“I think I have a pretty good chance, but I’ll find out soon,” he said.

The National Team Identification Series pits 80 players from around the country in a baseball tournament designed to highlight the best young baseball players in the country. Players are invited based on their region and go through a week of practice and preparation for the tournament. The USA selects the top athletes to continue playing international baseball.

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