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Photo: Perfect Game

Tournaments : : Story
Braves win inaugural 12u BCS Finals
Matthew Stokes        
Published: Thursday, July 05, 2012

MARIETTA, Ga. – In an all-East Cobb finale, the East Cobb Braves (9-0-1) overcame an inauspicious start to claim the 2012 12u BCS Finals championship in a 9-4 victory over the East Cobb Rays (7-2) on Thursday afternoon.

Earlier in the morning, it was a tale of two different games for the East Cobb teams. The Rays won handily 14-4 over Georgia Showcase Baseball while the Braves emerged victorious when a pitch eluded Team Mizuno’s catcher, allowing Josiah Futral to score the winning run in a 10-9 game.
“We wanted to win the first-ever Perfect Game tournament...We know that Perfect Game is big at the older age group so we wanted to expose the kids at 12u”

-- East Cobb Braves 12u head coach Dennis Jordan

In the early going, things looked to be decidedly not in the Braves favor as Baylin Moore smoked Blake Jones’ first pitch over the fence in left centerfield for a leadoff home run. The Rays offensive charge did not end there as three batters later Bannon Bembenek jacked a three-run shot to right field, putting Jones’ outing to a close and his team behind 4-0.

But the Braves came back in a hurry, plating three runs in the first and one in the second to knot the game up at 4-4. With reliever Darius Pope holding down the fort, the Braves put up a five-run fourth inning and never looked back. With a runner on base and two outs in the sixth, Pope set down Bryar Hawkins swinging to secure the championship for the Braves.

Braves head Mike Kirksey, in his fifth year at East Cobb Baseball as well as this team’s core group of players, called the championship “a team effort.”

“We wanted to win the first-ever Perfect Game tournament, seeing as it how was being held at our home park,” said Kirksey after the team’s victory. “We know that Perfect Game is big at the older age groups so we wanted to expose the kids at 12u.

“We were very good all week. We didn’t give up many runs at all. Defensively we were very good, and after the first day, we were good offensively.”

Following the tournament finale, the Rays’ Bembenek received the Most Valuable Player award. He tore the cover off the ball at a .773 clip, which included four doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs. The Braves’ Pope earned Most Valuable Pitcher honors after going 3-0 in 11 innings of work with 17 strikeouts. Perhaps his biggest contribution came in the championship game as he silenced the Rays’ bats in six scoreless innings of relief. He also batted .417 with four home runs.

The Braves will wrap up their summer season with a Travel Baseball Select tournament and a trip down to Disney World for the USSSA Elite 32.

2012 BCS 12u Finals runner-up: East Cobb Rays

2012 BCS 12u Finals MVP: Bannon Bembenek

2012 BCS 12u Finals MVPitcher: Darius Pope

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