FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In a conversation early Sunday morning, Nola Baseball Monsters founder and head coach Todd Buster spoke about the determination his team showed as it strived to overcome the effects of Hurricane Isaac in their New Orleans home while also trying to advance to the championship game at the PG WWBA 18u Labor Day Classic.
"We just got hit with a bomb of a hurricane and our mission was to come here and play solid baseball and let the chips fall where they may," Buster said before his team played what would become the first of three games Sunday. "But I'd be remiss if I didn't say that the focus of these guys is to be here at 9 o'clock (Monday) morning playing for the championship."
That focus has been rewarded.
The No. 7-seeded Nola Baseball Monsters (4-1) bounced back from a final pool-play loss Sunday morning to win its first two playoff games in the afternoon, and will face No. 1-seeded FTB Pride (5-0) in the 18u Labor Day Classic championship game Monday at 9 a.m. at JetBlue Park on the Boston Red Sox Player Development Complex.
The PG WWBA 16u Labor Day Classic championship match-up was also set Sunday: the No. 6-seeded CFL Vipers (4-1) will challenge the top-seeded Iron Pigs (5-0) in that title tilt at 11:30 a.m., also at JetBlue Park.
While the top seeds at each tournament made it to where they expected to be, their opponents were considered long-shots. While FTB Pride escaped No. 8 seed SWFL 17u, 3-2, in the quarterfinals then zipped past FTB White, 10-2, in the semis on the 18u side, Nola Baseball was a 6-4 winner over the No. 2 Tampa Bay Warriors and a 9-2 winner over No. 6 Orlando Baseball Academy 2013 in its two playoff games.
The Iron Pigs barely broke a sweat in beating their quarterfinal and semifinal foes buy a combined 19-5 in the 16u bracket. Despite earning just the No. 6 seed, the Vipers were even more impressive in dismissing their playoff opponents by a combined 20-3, including a 10-1 win over the second-seeded Orlando Baseball Academy in the semifinals.