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Tournaments : : Story

Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The Reds Midwest Scout Team had to be careful not to take this year's Kernels Foundation Championship for granted after winning the tournament a year ago. They also made the most of their paid invitation to the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, advancing to the semifinals before losing to the eventual champions, Marucci Elite.

To secure a playoff berth the Reds had to record one more win in pool play against the Midwest Rangers Scout Team, who also were 2-0 entering Sunday.

I think we're in good shape,” Head Coach Andy Stack, who also serves as the Reds Area Scout, said of his team's chances prior to Game 3. “We're running a pretty good pitcher out there in Jake Sparger, hoping we keep hitting like we have been and play our game. (The Midwest Rangers Scout Team) obviously have had a good run, and we match up pretty well against them, so it's time to throw our guys out there and see what happens.”

The Reds Midwest Scout Team ended up winning the game to advance, out-scoring the Rangers Scout Team 8-0. Perfect Game All-American Ryan Boldt hit an RBI single in the first, and it turned out that would be the only run starter Jacob Sparger would need. He went the distance, striking out eight batters in six innings of work, following up an impressive complete game performance on Saturday by Christian Bokich.

Christian Bokich did a great job yesterday going seven so that helped us with one reliever not having to pitch,” said Stack. “In our first game we were lucky to get out of there in four, so we saved a couple of innings there.”

Stack used only four pitchers in the Reds three pool play games, and out-scored their opponents 30-3 despite the fact that t
hey no longer have the imposing presence of 2011 Kernels MVP Nathan Mikolas in their lineup.

I think surprisingly offensively we're probably more consistent from top to bottom,” Stack said of his lineup. “We don't have the big banger in (Nathan) Mikolas and the consistency of Chad Johnson, but one through nine our guys might swing it a little better on average.”

Without the big bat in the middle of their order, the team has relied on more of a team effort to score runs. Shortstop Josh VanMeter had a huge game on Saturday in which he went 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs.

Josh has been one of our more consistent guys all year,” Stack said. “He plays great defense at short, has been hitting in the three-hole, and when we got Ryan Boldt back it was nice to bump him up and have a good 1-2-3. He's got a good left-handed swing and makes consistent, hard contact.”

Infielders Bryce Only and Mason McCoy came up big in the Reds' first game on Saturday, each going 3-for-3. Only drove in two and scored three times while McCoy hit a double, triple and a home run, driving in four.

In Game 3, Jacob Germann went 2-for-2 with three RBI.

Ryan Boldt, a member of last year's championship team, returned to the Reds this weekend. Fresh off of a busy and successful summer in which he was named the MVP of the Perfect Game All-American Classic and claimed the Gold Medal serving as the leadoff hitter for Team USA's 18u National Team that won the XXV IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship held in Seoul, Korea.

A relative unknown entering last year's Kernels Championship, Boldt made the most to show what he was made of. He quickly opened the eyes of observers, winning the Fastest Man competition with a timed speed of 6.50 second in the 60-yard dash and hit .350 with numerous key hits throughout the event, leading to six runs scored and five driven in.

It wasn't too long ago that Boldt was playing with another organization playing in this year's Kernels Foundation tournament, although he wasn't getting regular playing time with the program's No. 1 team.

Rob Allison from Iowa Western is an associate scout for me and he's probably one of the best-kept secrets in college baseball when it comes to recruiting,” Stack said of how he discovered Boldt. “That guy sees more players and remember more names than I do, and I see a lot of guys.

He saw (Boldt) at a Blizzard event in the winter and he was on their schedule to play with their B team or younger team and I called up his dad and asked him if he wanted to do something a little higher level and they accepted and we're happy to have him. Credit to Rob Allison, he saw the kid and liked the approach and I'm the lucky beneficiary of it.”

After given the opportunity to excel at a high level on a more national stage, Boldt continues to improve. He was invited to the Perfect Game National Showcase which led to yet another invitation, one to participate at the Perfect Game All-American Classic.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound outfielder from Red Wing, Minn. not only has game-changing speed, but he also has a strong arm (89 mph from the outfield at the National) and a potent left-handed swing, which led to a 2-for-3 day at the Classic, including a triple, on his way to being named MVP.

That was a fun time out there in San Diego, that's for sure,” Boldt said of the honor being named an All-American. “I met a lot of good guys and good players. I learned a lot this summer and played with a lot of great players. I learned a lot mentally from the coaches along the way, and it's been a great experience.”

He's got a chance to be pretty special,” Stack added of Boldt's talents. “He had a really good summer, obviously winning the Gold with Team USA, being the PG All-American MVP and he did really well at the Area Codes. For me he's in the top 4-5 outfielders in his class when you take the whole country, NCAA and high school. That's pretty high praise for a kid from Minnesota.

He plays hard, and he's kind of an old school looking kid, more of a grinder. He'll surprise you with that speed. He beat out two ground balls to the second baseman yesterday and he tripled in his first at-bat, and before I looked up from watching the ball he was already rounding second base. When he gets those legs stretched out it's fun to watch.”

Due to Boldt's participation with Team USA, this was the first weekend that he had played with Stack's Reds team. Despite being unfamiliar with his teammates, he hasn't missed a beat, going 3-for-6 in pool play with a triple, three runs scored, four driven in and four walks drawn.

We've been playing well so far,” Boldt commented on his initial impression of his team. “I've been meeting the new guys, this is my first week playing with some of them. There are some good guys here so hopefully we win this thing again.”

The soft-spoken Boldt is quick to share the credit with his teammates at every stop he has made. He also excels in the classroom, drawing praise from his coach for his character in addition to his five-tool potential.

Obviously top notch kid, I think he's near the top of his class, a 4.0 student,” Stack said of Boldt's qualities off the field. “You couldn't ask for a better kid, and when you mention the tools he's got every one. The only (question) right now is power, but with his frame and strength I think the power is going to come later.”

Boldt is frequently compared to Darin Erstad as they share similar qualities as multi-tooled, hard-nosed midwestern outfielders who are dedicated to getting better and will never be out-hustled. It's not a surprise that Boldt has committed to play for Erstad at Nebraska, who quietly is adding some promising recruits to his 2013-14 class.

I remember him a little bit,” Boldt said of Erstad's playing career. “I heard a bunch of things over the summer about how hard he played. It would be great to play for a guy like that.

The coaching there with Coach Erstad, Coach Bolt and Coach Silva there a bunch of great guys who are putting their program on the right path and hopefully we'll have some great years to come.”

In the meantime, Boldt and his Reds Midwest Scout Team teammates have more games to win if they are to repeat as champions.

The team enters the playoffs ranked as the No. 2 seed, has a fresh pitching staff and experience handling the pressure of being in the playoffs.

It's a great event with all of the Midwest guys showing off what they can do,” Boldt said. “It would be great to win this thing again for Coach Stack and get that free trip down to Jupiter. It's a great tournament to be a part of and a great experience.”

I think we're in good shape,” Stack added. “We have a guy to come back and start tonight if we make the playoffs and some guys we haven't pitched yet for the Monday's games and then bring some of those guys who pitched short innings back.

If we can keep that up I like our chances.”

 
 
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