FORT MYERS, Fla. - Go ahead and hand Florida the state title of the PG 16u BSC Finals final four. As far as the PG 14u BCS Finals is concerned, don't even bother to mess with Texas.
The semifinal pairings for both the 2012 16u BCS Finals and the 2012 14u BCS Finals were set Thursday night after a long day of a lot of baseball and just enough rain to delay the start of the 16u quarterfinals by almost three hours.
When all the results were finally compiled, three teams from Florida wound up in the 16u BCS Finals final four while three Texas teams were in the semifinals at the 14u BCS Finals.
The 16u semifinals will be played Friday on the two fields at City of Palms Park beginning at 9 a.m., with the championship game to follow in the COP main stadium at 11:30 a.m. Eighth-seeded SWFL Baseball 16u (6-1-1) takes on No. 5 Florida Burn Orange (7-1) in one semi, while No. 2 Dulins Dodgers (8-0) plays No. 6 Palm Beach County PAL in the other.
SWFL Baseball 16u beat Florida Burn Orange in the championship game of the 16u WWBA East Memorial Day Classic in late May at Fenway South at the JetBlue Player Development Complex. Friday's rematch will be much anticipated.
"We won that tournament and you come back and now you have a response and can say it wasn't so much of a fluke," SWFL 16u head coach Clint Montgomery said Thursday before his team's quarterfinal game against No. 16 Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico. "Being in the final eight is a good accomplishment and it kind of backs up and solidifies our earlier championship run. I'm real proud of the guys for that."
The 14u semifinals will be played at 9 a.m. Friday at the former Boston Red Sox Player Development 5-Plex and the championship game will be played at the City of Palms stadium at 2 p.m.
The 14u final four also doesn't include the tournament's No. 1 seed with the No. 8 EvoShield Canes (7-1) playing No. 13 El Paso Crush (4-1-2) in one semi and the No. 2 Dallas Patriots (8-0) taking on No. 6 Twelve Baseball Academy (5-2) in the other.
The Patriots are based in Dallas and the Crush in El Paso, obviously, while Twelve Baseball Academy is based in College Station. The Canes broke up the Texas ho-down by calling Cary, N.C., home.
The whole topic of which state the first-round playoff winners at the 16u BCS Finals hailed from first came up when it was noticed that six of the eight quarterfinalists were from Florida.
Perhaps that's not quite so surprising considering 28 of the 64 teams in the field were from Florida to begin with, but there were also 12 teams from Georgia - including two East Cobb Baseball squads - six from Texas and four from Tennessee. In all, 13 states and Puerto Rico were represented.
The six Florida teams in the final eight were: No. 8 seed SWFL Baseball 16u (Fort Myers); No. 5 Florida Burn Orange (Sarasota); No. 13 SF Elite Squad Red and No. 14 SF Elite Squad White (both Pembroke Pines); No. 10 Florida Red Sox (Pensacola); and No. 6 Palm Beach County PAL (West Palm Beach).
The interlopers were Dulins from Tennessee (Cordova) and Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico (San Juan) which shocked No. 1 seed Palm Beach Select, 7-1, in the first round of the playoffs.
Head Coach Tim Orlosky from Florida Burn Orange wasn't necessarily surprised to see so many Florida teams in the final eight and, ultimately, the final four.
"There is a bunch of talent in this state," he said. "There are obviously good teams from other places - Texas, the (Dulins) Dodgers (from Tennessee) are awfully good - but you can build three teams from the Orlando area and all of those guys could come out and beat you. The same thing with Miami ... and there's just a lot of quality baseball players in this state. Anytime you play a tournament in Florida you can expect that you're going to run into some guys who can play."
SWFL's Montgomery agreed, while also offering the caveat of the strength-in-numbers argument.
"There's a lot of good talent in Florida, and I don't know the numbers but there are probably quite a few Florida teams in (the tournament) and we probably kind of out-number everybody else," he said. "But definitely Florida is talent-rich in baseball and that helps."
Orlosky thinks his young prospects benefit by being able to play the year around in Florida and become much more game-smart just by being able to play so frequently.
"They do have a little savvy, this team does," Orlosky said. "I'm pretty confident with letting them run some of their own plays and do some of their own things and they work together. They get along, and I'm sure that plays a role in it when you play nine or 10 games with each other. If you didn't like each other, that would be awfully tough."
Another big upset in the first round of the 16u BCS Finals playoffs came when No. 14 seed SF Elite Squad White, 3-3 at the time, eliminated the No. 3 East Cobb Braves, 7-2. Elite Squad White lost to fellow Florida team Palm Beach PAL in the quarterfinals, but the win over the Marietta, Ga.-based EC Braves was a terrific accomplishment.
"Florida, Texas and California always have great baseball, and Georgia isn't too far behind," Elite Squad White head coach Jorge Miranda said. "East Cobb, they put teams out there and it doesn't matter if it's the East Cobb Braves, Yankees, Titans, Astros - whatever it is, you always see those names up on the (championship) banners when you walk into the field.
"I have a lot of respect for that team that we played; they're a good ballclub."
THE THREE TEAMS FROM TEXAS that advanced to the 14u BCS Finals semifinals represent exactly half of the Lone Star State teams that were in the 44-team field. There were 16 from Florida, eight from Georgia, six from Texas and five from Puerto Rico.
No. 6-seed Twelve Baseball Academy has the unenviable task of facing the second-seeded Dallas Patriots in the semifinals. Twelve head coach Gregg Bennett spoke with Perfect Game earlier this week and said his program tries to strike a fine balance between developing players and winning tournaments.
"There's a very difficult balance between developing them - playing them in different positions, letting them feel their way through pitching - and winning," he said. "This team wins a lot and plays well and we've been very successful, but we really, really want to make sure that every kid gets an opportunity to be developed.
"We still want to win and we didn't come here to do anything but win, but we balance that with our kids' play."
The 13th-seeded Crush pulled two big upsets Thursday, beating the No. 4 Houston Banditos, 2-0, in the playoff's first round and dropping No. 12 Team Warehouse, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. The EvoShield Canes provided the biggest stunner when they knocked-off the No. 1-seeded Georgia Roadrunners, 8-5, in the quarterfinals.