JUPITER, Fla. -- Dan Corsi didn't like travel baseball and summer all-star teams when he was a high school coach in Atlanta. He had his reasons, but he's got a different point of view these days as the director of a fairly new program from Jacksonville, Fla., that's called World of Baseball.
"I used to be anti-travel ball," he said Saturday, "but now after being on this side of the fence, I feel like I've got to apologize."
The World of Baseball team trimmed Team Evoshield Elite, 7-6, Saturday to win its pool and clinch a spot in the playoffs at the 2009 WWBA World Championship in a seesaw battle at the Roger Dean Sports Complex.
Many of the same players who helped the Orlando Scorpions win the WWBA Underclass Championship in Fort Myers two weeks ago are playing here for Team Evoshield, and they threw a pair of hard-throwing righthanders Saturday with David Lucroy and Ryan Meyer both firing the ball at 88 mph. That's one of the reasons Corsi has changed his mind about travel ball.
"I can't simulate this as a high school coach. I can't," he said. "I can work their butts off, but I can't put them against teams that have guys throwing in the high 80s-low 90s every week. So I don't think I'll go back to high school baseball. I thoroughly enjoy travel ball."
Both teams began the day with 2-0 records in Pool C, and only the winner would make the playoffs. Team Evoshield grabbed a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, but World of Baseball responded with three runs in the bottom of the first and the game was on. World of Baseball took a 5-4 lead in the third, but Team Evoshield grabbed a 6-5 edge in the top of the fifth. That brought us to the bottom of the fifth, which proved to be the pivotal frame.
Meyer got the first two outs, then walked two batters. That brought Aldo Ferrante to the plate with the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Ferrante, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior from Ponte Vedra High School in Jacksonville, ripped a two-run double off the top of the fence in left field to give his team the lead.
"I was seeing the ball pretty good," said Ferrante. "When it came out of his hands, I knew that was the pitch. I just put my barrel on it."
The ball hit the crossbar at the top of the fence and caromed toward left-center, giving Colin Monagle more time to score the go-ahead run from first base. It was nearly a home run, but the two-run double was good enough.
"A home run, that would have been the best thing," said Corsi. "But the next best thing was to hit that crossbar. That thing caromed and allowed us to score the go-ahead run. I think there would have been a play at the plate if it just sat down, so that was huge."
The game ended after 5 1/2 innings due to the two-hour time limit, depriving Team Evoshield a chance to bat in the top of the seventh.
All of the players on Team Evoshield are high school juniors who will graduate in 2011, making them one of the youngest teams in the tournament. By contrast, World of Baseball listed 18 seniors on its roster and only seven underclassmen.
"It's a big win for the organization," said Corsi, now in his third year with the program. "We just beat a very, very good team. It was a heavyweight battle. We'll see what we can do in the playoffs."
Bryan Matthews got the victory in relief for World of Baseball. Ferrante went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Aaron Silbar was 2-for-3. Meyer got saddled with the loss for Team Evoshield. Patrick Leonard, Auston Bousfield and Jordan Taylor had two hits for Team Evoshield and A.C. Carter drove in two runs.