FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In the last minutes before yet another afternoon of rain showers wiped out the playoff schedule at the 17u PG BCS Finals, a pitching duel only baseball purists dream about concluded under Perfect Game's tournament tie-breaker criteria. It was possibly the most white-knuckle game of the entire tournament, which will try to wrap-up it's six-day run on Friday, weather permitting.
The Perfect Game and GameChanger statistical archives will show that the So Cal National Travel Team (NTT) beat the Team Tampa Bay Warriors by a final count of 3-2. That score doesn't tell the whole story. It doesn't indicate the game was tied at 0-0 after nine inning of play; it doesn't explain that all five of the game's runs were scored in the 10th inning.
PG's tie-breaker formula in playoff games requires each half-inning begin with the bases loaded and one out. Both pitching staffs worked out of the bases-loaded, one-out jams in the eighth and ninth innings.
So Cal NTT left-hander William Deloney (2014, Montgomery, Ala.) threw seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and walking one while striking out four (he threw 101 pitches, 70 for strikes). He gave way to righty Brian Rapp (2014, Mendam, N.J.) for what amounted six outs over three innings of work under the tie-breaker format, and Rapp allowed one hit and struck out two.
There are always several key defensive plays during a tie-breaker situation and So Cal NTT certainly provided a beauty when it turned a 3-2-3 double-play in the bottom of the eighth.
"It's very intense, of course, but their pitcher was really good, too," Deloney said after the game finally concluded. "I guess in a way it's fun, because you're going out there and you know the game's on the line; you're going out there with no runs for either team and it's just exciting for me to go out there and play."
"Their" pitcher -- in this case Team Tampa Bay Warriors right-hander Dylan Moore (2013, Tampa) -- was almost more than "really good." Again, understanding that a pitcher can record no more than two outs an inning, Moore threw 8 2/3 innings (he actually walked out and threw to the first batter in the 10th) and allowed only three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts.
The last hit he gave up was a bases loaded, three-run double to So Cal's Brock Bendetto (2014, Destrehan, La.) in the top of the 10th that proved to be the game-winner. He finished having thrown 115 pitches, 68 for strikes.
A rapidly moving heavy rain shower was closing in on the jetBlue Player Development Complex right as the game ended, and PG was unable to grab Moore for comment before he had the left the grounds.
Incredibly, this was Deloney's second outing at the 17u PG BCS Finals; the first came three days earlier in a pool-play game against the Team Tampa Bay Warriors. Deloney worked four innings in that outing and didn't allow an earned run on two hits with two strikeouts. In 11 innings against the Warriors this week, Deloney didn't allow an earned run on just five hits and three walks, struck out eight and had two no-decisions.
So Cal NTT director and head coach Scott Luke said this was the second time in two weeks that his team had to play in the tie-breaker situation with the other one coming at last week's PG WWBA 17u National Championship up in the Atlanta area.
"We have a long history with the Tampa Warriors and we really respect their coaches and their players," Luke said. "We tied them twice last year and went through the same thing."
So Cal NTT (5-1-1) entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in its five-team pod while the Team Tampa Bay Warriors (5-1-1) entered as the No. 2 seed. So Cal advanced in the playoffs where it will face either the Indiana Prospects (5-1-1) or Midwest Elite Baseball (5-0-1) in a rain-delayed quarterfinal Friday at 11:30 a.m. at jetBlue.
"Our club this year is built around our pitching depth," Luke said. "We have as much or more pitching as everybody else -- we don't have the 90 mph guys like some of the top Florida programs and others -- but we don't deliver all the time at the plate. I think it's a testament to the boys and their mettle and their ability. This group won the BCS here three years ago when the 14 years old, and it's quite a few of the same guys.
"These guys are all built for the grind, like most of the clubs that are left here today are built for the grind," he concluded. "It's been a good run and we've got a lot of solid kids that are going to go on play at the next level, and it's going to be a real sad week when they're done; it's been a five-year run with me for some of these guys."
The 2013 12u BCS Finals was able to determine a final four before the early afternoon rains hit Thursday. The East Cobb Braves 12u (5-0-1) and the SIII Hustler's (6-0) will face off in one semifinal at 9 a.m. on the softball fields at the Lee County Sports Complex with Team Mizuno Houston (5-0-1) facing the Dallas Tigers-Hernandez (6-0) in the other semifinal. The championship game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at Lee County.