MARIETTA, Ga. - After rain washed out several pool play games and all playoff games at the 2013 18u WWBA National Championship, the Dulins Dodgers 18u were named national champions, going 6-0 in pool play and dominating their opponents.
The Dulins Dodgers 18u outscored their opponents, 44-4, and recorded three shutouts in pool play.
Although coach Curtis Copeland and his Dodgers team didn’t get to play all of the baseball they had hoped, he is satisfied with the way his team showed up and played.
“It started out well,” said Copeland. “We had all of our pitching available.”
Pitching proved to be very key to the Dodgers’ success in pool play. They compiled a team earned run average of 0.74 and a WHIP of 0.84. Right-handed pitcher Jesse McCord (2014) shined the brightest among the many stars who took the mound for the Dodgers. He was co-MVPitcher of the tournament.
McCord had it all working on Tuesday when he started a pool play game against the Windward Braves 18u Blue. He threw seven innings, gave up just two hits and a walk, and collected ten strikeouts in the shutout.
The 6-foot 173-pound hurler got the leadoff batter out in six of the seven innings. He stayed around the plate the entire game, throwing over 66-percent of his pitches for strikes. He kept the ball low in the zone, recording six groundouts to go along with his ten strikeouts.
“(I) just went right at them with fastballs the whole time (and) they didn’t really do too much with it,” said McCord. “I didn’t have to use that many off-speed pitches until the last inning.”
In fact, out of the 92 pitches McCord threw, 80 of them were fastballs. McCord showed command of all three of his pitches.
Copeland said McCord is a guy that is good enough on the mound to compete against any player in the country. “He’s so tough-minded, (he) understands how to pitch, and he’s gonna be great for somebody in the future.”
McCord was just one of many bright spots for the Dulins Dodgers this week at the WWBA National Championship.
The offense hit a collective .305 (47-for-154) and recorded a .400 on-base percentage. The team collected 19 extra-base hits in six games, including seven home runs.
“They came out hitting the ball great – just putting runs up and pitching held the runs down too,” McCord mentioned.
Ridge Smith went 6-for-18 with four home runs and 11 RBI. In the pool play game against the North East Baseball Lookouts, smith went 2-for-3 with two home runs and five RBI. He is one of five players on the roster committed to play at Austin Peay, a Division 1 program, next year.
Clay Casey accounted for three of the team’s seven home runs. Casey had a multi-home run game against the Pace Patriots. He collected four RBI in the game. In six games, Casey tallied ten RBI.
Copeland said his guys have been playing together for the last five years and some have played together even longer than that.
“I think there are probably six guys on this team who have been playing together since they were seven or eight years old that I’ve been coaching the whole time,” Copeland said.
“They’re no high-profile guys,” said Copeland. “Nobody knows who they are. They’re just competitors and winners.”
Copeland mentioned that just about his entire roster will be playing Division I baseball in the near future, with the exception of one player committed to a junior college and another going to an Ivy League-type school. He doesn’t have players in the national spotlight, just a bunch of solid competitors who play together.
“They’ve been winners their whole lives and, to me, that’s what builds coaches, builds teams, builds winning traditions, (and) builds programs for Tim (Dulin) and his organization,” Copeland said of his team.
The Dulins baseball program provides just as much to the players in return. “Our program builds a lot of character, builds a lot of winners, and builds a lot of Division I baseball players.”
Jack Ross, of the Pacific Union Financial Capitalists, was named MVP of the tournament for his performance at the WWBA 18u National Championship.
On a team that hit a collective .368 (53-for-144), Ross’ performance still stood out as the best of the tournament.
In the final two pool play games the Capitalists played in, Ross went a combined 5-for-6 with two home runs and five RBI.
The Pepperdine Univerity commit helped his team to a 6-0 mark in pool play, outscoring their opponents by a total of 54-7.
Right-handed fireballer Luis Ortiz also received co-MVPitcher honors for the tournament.
Ortiz threw five perfect innings in a win against the Home Plate Chili Dogs 17u Shelton. He recorded seven strikeouts and threw 41 of his 50 pitches for strikes. The righty sat between 91-93 mph and touched 95.
The seasoned pitcher has a five-pitch arsenal that he uses to constantly keep opposing hitters off-balance. He showed good command of the zone, keeping everything low and forcing a lot of routine ground ball outs.
“He’s one of the premier arms in the ’14 class,” said Perfect Game scout Jheremy Brown.
Ortiz and the San Diego Show finished the tournament at 6-0, outscoring their opponents by a total of 37-11.
NBS 18u was named the runner-up and Tigers Baseball Club 17u the third place team.
NBS 18u went 6-0 and outscored their opponents, 45-5. The offense hit .306 (44-for-144), while the pitching staff posted a 1.00 earned-run average and a 0.97 WHIP over 35 innings of work.
Luke Patterson recorded a seven-inning shutout for NBS 18u, striking out five, while only walking three and surrendering five hits.
Camden McGill hit .529 (9-for-17) with two doubles and four RBI for NBS 18u.
Tigers Baseball Club 17u also went 6-0 in pool play, outscoring their opponents by a total of 41-6. The team hit .348 (54-for-155) and posted an on-base percentage of .449.
Ryan Cleveland starred on offense for Tigers Baseball Club 17u, going 9-for-20 (.450 AVG) with a home run and seven RBI.
The pitching staff performed just as well, if not better, than the offensive side of the ball. They put up a low 0.76 earned-run average and 0.95 WHIP through 37 total innings of work.
Kain Hewitt was the workhorse for Tigers Baseball, throwing 11.2 innings and only surrendering just one earned run while collecting two wins.
The difference of the tournament came down to the fact that the Dulins Dodgers 18u only gave up four runs on their way to a 6-0 mark in pool play.
A week after the Dulins Dodgers 15u won the 2013 15u WWBA National Championship, the 18u team took the title. Now it’s up to the 17u team to keep it going. They will have Jesse McCord on the mound again this week and he would like nothing more than to win another championship. He claims they may very well do so.
“Our team has been knocking on the door of a championship at the last five events and we haven’t won yet, so we’re trying to come out here and win it.”