FORT MYERS, Fla. - Big-time players want to be put in position to perform in big-time situations. The Orlando Scorpions 17u Purple have a truckload of players who can fill that bill, but two really came up big for the Scorpions this week at the Perfect Game 17u BCS Finals.
Recently named 2012 Perfect Game All-American right-handed pitcher Brett Morales and sweet-swinging top outfield prospect J.B. Woodman worked their magic with precision Friday afternoon, and the Scorpions 17u beat the East Cobb Astros 16u, 7-2, in the championship game of the 17u BCS Finals.
It was the first 17u BCS Finals national championship for the Scorpions; the Astros were seeking their fourth title since 2007. At the conclusion of the championship game, Morales was named the tournament's Most Valuable Pitcher and Woodman its Most Valuable Player.
Morales (2013, King HS, Fla.) worked five innings of three-hit ball without allowing an earned run and struck out seven in the title game.
"It's been real exciting. We started some new trends there toward the end and it's been real fun," Morales said of the championship run. "I love playing in the big tournaments and pitching in the big games, so this was exciting and a really good feeling."
The Astros (8-2) scored unearned runs in each of the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead before the Scorpions rallied for three in the third and two each in the fourth and fifth to seal the deal. Scorpions head coach Matt Gerber liked his team's chances with Morales on the mound.
"We were able to roll Brett over into the championship game and, obviously, when we have a Perfect Game All-American throwing, we felt pretty good about our chances," he said.
For the tournament, Morales pitched eight innings, allowed no earned runs on five hits and struck out 11 in two appearances this week; he picked up the win in both appearances. It is those type of outings that earned Morales a spot in the 10th Annual Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings, the elite all-star event slated for Aug. 12 at PETCO Park in San Diego.
"I'm very blessed to get the opportunity to go out there," said Morales, the nation's No. 22-ranked overall prospect in the class of 2013. "It's going to be a new experience and it's going to be great. It's going to be fun, but you want to go out there and perform and show off your stuff."
Woodman (2013, Edgewater HS, Fla.) had a tournament for the ages with eye-popping numbers that would make a video game blush. He was 2-for-2 with two walks and two RBI in the championship game, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.
In 10 tournament games, Woodman was 20-for-29 (.690) with five doubles, four triples, a home run, 18 RBI, nine runs scored and five stolen bases. His on-base percentage was .735 and he carried a 1.977 OPS.
"I felt good down here," Woodman said. "I hit all right in East Cobb and just kept it rolling, and I hit better and better as I went along. It was a good experience."
The East Cobb reference was in regard to the PG WWBA 2013 Grads or 17u National Championship played last week, a tournament at which the Scorpions more or less laid an egg with a 4-3 showing. That showing served as motivation for the group all week down here.
"We didn't play that great in East Cobb, so it was good to come down here and really play well and show what we can do," Woodman said. "We were trying the whole way to be here (playing on Friday afternoon) and we worked hard to get here. It's been a fun summer, so this was good."
Morales and Woodman also attended the PG National Showcase in Minneapolis in mid-June.
The summer of 2012 is now complete for the Scorpions.
"This is our last tournament of the summer and, obviously, this is a great way to end it," Gerber said. "The guys played hard and did a great job all the way through."
The Orlando Scorpions 17u Purple (9-1) secured a spot in the championship game by beating No. 7 seed Bucky Dent Academy, 6-0, in a Friday morning semifinal at the Lee County Sports Complex, avenging their only loss during pool-play.
Right-hander Cody Crouse (2013, Bloomingdale HS, Fla.) tossed a complete three-hitter, striking out four and walking one, to pick up the win. Tate Blackman (2014, Lake Brantley HS, Fla.) continued his outstanding tournament by going 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
"I think the biggest thing for us today was Cody Crouse in the first game," Garber said after the championship game victory. "We were running short on pitching and he threw a complete game for us; Cody was saying that must be the first complete game in Scorpions history because we usually don't let our guys go complete games, we get them in and out."
The Scorpions 17u used their 5-1 record to grab the No. 6 seed in the playoffs and promptly dumped the No. 11 SE Texas Gladiators, 9-0, in the first round. They needed to rally from a 2-1 fourth inning deficit to knock off No. 14 SWFL 17u in the quarterfinals, and came into Friday's semifinal with a head of steam.
The East Cobb Astros 16u advanced into the championship game by upsetting top-seeded SCORE International 17u, 8-7 in eight innings, in one of the semifinals played Friday morning at the Lee County Complex.
The EC Astros 16u pushed across the winning run in the top of the eighth when Randolph Gassaway walked, advanced to third on a single from Trey Harris, and then scored on a double-steal.
The EC Astros 16u's only pool-play loss came at the hands of SCORE International 17u in the third game of the tournament. They rallied to earn the No. 5 seed, and knocked off the No. 12 Florida Future, 9-5, in the first round and escaped the No. 13 Excel Blue Wave, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.
SCORE International 17u (8-1) earned the playoffs' top seed by zipping through pool-play with a 6-0 record, including its final 5-3 win over the Florida Pokers 17u in a game played Thursday morning. It then jumped right into the playoffs where it beat the No. 16 Mississippi Prospects, 11-3, in the first round and the No. 8 Florida Burn, 4-1, in the quarterfinals. The three games were played back-to-back-to-back.
Bucky Dent Academy (7-2) sailed into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and beat the No. 10 South Oakland A's, 4-2, in the first round and outlasted the No. 15 Richmond Braves 17u National, 4-3, in the quarterfinals.
2012 17u BCS Finals runner-up: East Cobb Astros 16u
2012 17u BCS Finals MVP: J.B. Woodman
2012 17u BCS Finals MVPitcher: Brett Morales