Georgia Jackets 15u win second straight PG national title
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Through morning sunshine and high humidity, followed closely by afternoon rain and lightning delays, the young men wearing the Georgia Jackets uniforms kept their focus during a long summer day at the Terry Park Complex.
The Jackets started their Wednesday at 7:45 a.m. with a third-round playoff game at the 15u Perfect Game BCS Finals national championship and didn’t leave the park until they had another PG tournament championship in hand – five games and about 15 hours later.
On the heels of winning the 15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational in Emerson, Ga., on June 16 and the 15u PG WWBA National Championship on June 27, also in Emerson, the Jackets added a second PG national championship to their hardware collection when they escaped the Scorpions Panhandle 2017, 3-1, in the title game of the 15u PG BCS Finals late Wednesday at the Terry Park stadium.
“Our team is just about trying to grow (the players), trying to improve them, put them on the biggest stage that we can, let them go out there and play and have fun, and they’re just continuing to progress, which is our objective,” Jackets head coach Jeff Auterson said. “We want to try to take these guys and continue to make them better baseball players and not just kind of go out there and try to play the game.
“As an organization and as a coaching staff we’re just thrilled to death with the way they continue to improve.”
In the championship game, the Scorpions Panhandle 2017 scored in the top of the first after Tommy Kinney doubled and came around on an RBI single off the bat of Garrett Mathes. The 1-0 lead was short-lived as the Jackets’ Will Lumkin smacked a two-run, go-ahead single in the bottom of the first and Lee Kay finished the game’s scoring with an RBI triple in the bottom of the second.
2016 Jackets’ right-handers Blake James and Javier Valdes combined on a five-inning four-hitter with five strikeouts and one walk.
Rain plagued this tournament all weekend and when it continued into the work week PG officials scrapped the second-round of three pool-play games and started what amounted to an 84-team single elimination tournament with five-inning games and one-and-a-half hour time limits.
Four rounds of playoff games were contested before the field was whittled down to the customary eight quarterfinalists. With the action practically non-stop from sun-up to sundown – and later still under the lights at some venues – the young players were forced to sacrifice a lot
“It’s extremely difficult; it’s not baseball,” Auterson said with a laugh. “Baseball is nine innings and not 25 innings in one day, and to ask these kids to out there and play in the rain and the heat … It’s a big-time accomplishment and I’m proud of them for doing it”
After beating the Baseball Scoutz 8-2 in the third round of the playoffs Wednesday morning, the Jackets sent 2017 righty Weston Bizzle to the mound to face the Chain Black 16u in a fourth-round game.
Bizzle was perfect through 4 2/3 innings before walking a batter with a full-count and two outs in the top of the fifth. He promptly struck out the next batter for the final out of the game and finished with a five-inning no-hitter with 13 strikeouts and the one walk.
The Jackets hit .327 as a team over their nine games with two guys really standing out. 2017 outfielder Jason Rooks finished 11-for-20 (.550) with three doubles, two home runs, 11 RBI, six runs and a 1.817 OPS; 2016 catcher Will Lumpkin was 9-for-19 with four doubles, 10 RBI, two runs and 1.162 OPS.
The pitching staff, with its miniscule 0.23 team ERA over 60 innings pitched, allowed 28 hits, with 89 strikeouts and 17 walks, was the difference maker.
2017 lefty Austin Weiermiller was brilliant, working 10 1/3 innings over three outings without allowing an earned on three hits, with 24 strikeouts and one walk; left-hander Chaney Rogers worked 10 shutout innings in three appearances allowing four hits with 16 strikeouts and eight walks; Bizzle, the right-hander, pitched eight scoreless innings without allowing a hit and struck out 17 with one walk.
After the lengthy afternoon rain delay at Terry Park, several teams dropped out of the tournament in order to meet previously arranged travel and parental work obligations. That left a final four of the Georgia Jackets, the Scorpions Panhandle 2017, the Scorpions Prime 2017 and Chet Lemon’s Juice.
The Scorpions Panhandlers beat the Juice, 4-1, behind a six-inning no-hitter from 2017 right-hander Zachary Taylor. The Panhandlers 2017 scored all four of their runs in the top of the sixth-inning under the tie-breaker criteria, which broke up a 0-0 tie.
The Jackets scored 11 runs on 11 hits and ran past the Scorpions Prime 2017 by an 11-0 count in the other semifinal. Lee Kay doubled and drove in three runs, Lawson Hill singled and drove in a pair and Cameron Turley, Weiermiller and Javier Valdez combined on a two-hit shutout.
2014 15u BCS Finals runnerup: Scorpions Panhandle 2017
2014 15u BCS Finals MVP: Will Lumpkin
2014 15u BCS Finals MV-Pitcher: Weston Bizzle
Connecticut Wolfpack 14u, East Cobb Astros 14u share 14u BCS crown
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Even though the end result was two teams – one from Connecticut and one from Georgia – being able to claim a 2014 Perfect Game National Championship as the sun set Wednesday evening at the rain-soaked JetBlue Park Player Development Complex, no one was all that happy with the outcome.
After the Bridgeport-based Connecticut Wolfpack 14u and the Marietta, Ga.-based East Cobb Astros won heart-stopping semifinal games on two of the backfields at the JetBlue Complex, they learned that heavy rain during the afternoon had rendered the main stadium field unplayable; it is the only field at the complex with lights.
Consequently, they were named co-champions of this year’s rain and lightning-plagued 14u Perfect Game BCS Finals national championship
The coaching staff of the Wolfpack was furious with the decision to not play the championship game and challenged PG officials to find another field on which the championship game could be played. They were told that was impossible at such a late hour but that did not lessen their disappointment.
When the national championship cup was brought over so the team could pose with it for a photo, one of the Wolfpack coaches yelled, “We want to win that on the field.”
It was a decision ultimately made – despite repeated pleas from PG officials – by a professional, MLB quality grounds keeping crew that reached the conclusion the JetBlue Park stadium field was simply too saturated to be played upon without causing considerable damage.
And why the dismay the people involved with the Connecticut Wolfpack 14u squad showed was certainly understandable under the circumstances, it also showed a competitive spirit that the young players themselves presented throughout their six-day run to the co-championship.
The Wolfpack 14u finished 9-0-0 after their 3-2 win over the previously unbeaten Chain Stealth (9-1-0) in their semifinal game, and were the only squad in the 88-team field to finish the event unbeaten. Six of their wins came in the expanded single-elimination playoff bracket, including three on Wednesday.
In the semifinal win over the Stealth, the Wolfpack scored three runs in the top of the first inning with Dillon Lifrieri, James Edwards and Will Lucas each being credited with a run driven in; Edwards had an RBI single. The Wolfpack would get only one more hit the rest of the way but made those three runs stand up.
Right-handers Lifrieri and Lucas and lefty Ryan Meury combined on a five-inning, five-hitter, allowing the two runs while striking out two and walking two. Three of the Stealth’s five hits were doubles from Caleb Flores, Malik Spratling and Tyler Simon, and Spratling also drove in a run.
The Wolfpack hit .379 (66-for-174) as a team over their nine games, with nine extra-base hits. Edwards finished 11-for-18 (.611) with a pair of doubles, two RBI and eight runs scored; Will Lucas was 10-for-21 (.476) with a double, triple, nine RBI and seven runs; Mike Torniero was 11-for-24 (.458) with a pair of doubles, five RBI and 11 runs; Alex Steele was 7-for-17 (.412) with two doubles, five RBI and eight runs.
Six pitchers were especially effective, combining to post a 2.11 ERA over 43 innings.
The East Cobb Astros 14u, winners of six Perfect Game national championships including the 14u PG BCS Finals in 2006 and 2007, finished the tournament 8-1-0 after a 2-0 win over the SBA Canes 14u Black in their semifinal matchup. That, too, was their third game of the day and sixth playoff game in two days.
The Astros scored the only two runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning, both on wild pitches. In fact, they totaled just one hit but took advantage of the wildness of the Canes’ pitchers, who issued nine walks and threw three wild pitches.
The Astros’ right-hander Darius Pope was in control, allowing only two hits over five innings with three strikeouts and a walk. The Astros used 12 pitchers over their nine games, and they combined for a 2.71 ERA in 49 innings.
Pope and right-hander Jacob Cabe put up almost identical numbers, with Pope working 8 2/3 innings over three appearances and allowing one earned run (0.81 ERA) on six hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks; Cabe made three appearances, pitched 8 2/3 innings and gave up one earned run (0.81) on six hits with five strikeouts and five walks.
Austin Moody and Lane Keylon swung the biggest bats for a team that hit .303 (60-for-198) with 15 extra-base hits and 51 runs in nine games. Moody was 9-for-19 (.474) with three doubles, three RBI and six runs and Keylon was 5-for-12 (.417) with a double, five RBI and three runs.
2014 14u BCS Finals co-champions: Connecticut Wolfpack 14u
2014 14u BCS Finals co-champions: East Cobb Astros 14u