FORT MYERS, Fla. - It was another good day for the Corpus Christi (Texas) High School baseball program Saturday evening, and this time it was enjoyed outside of the state of Texas.
Carroll High School students and baseball prospects Michael Cantu (class of 2014) and Zach Alaniz (2015) each took home awards after winning the Rawlings Home Run Challenge (Cantu) and the Fast Man Contest (Alaniz) at City of Palms Park to kick off the Perfect Game 16u BCS Finals. Cantu is at the tournament as a member of Team Citius while Alaniz is a member of its companion team, Team Citius Roland.
The PG 14u BCS Finals also got started with the same two contests, also at COP. Jacob Parrott from Lucas, Texas - here with the Dallas Patriots - won the 14u Rawlings Home Run Challenge and Juan Abreu from Casselberry, Fla. (Team Warehouse) won the 14u Fastest Man Contest.
Cantu, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound catcher who helped Carroll finish No. 27 in PG's final National High School Rankings, cranked three home runs over the walls at COP with his first 10 swings of the competition, a total matched by Jacksonville, Fla., shortstop Christian Jones (2014) from the Jacksonville Royals Blue.
The two went into a five-swing playoff with Cantu capturing the championship thanks to one bomb on his fifth swing.
"It awesome going out there and competing with the other competitors," Cantu said. "(Jones) is a hell of a player and either one of us could have won. It was awesome; this is just the start of a new beginning and it's fun to come out here and compete. I just try to hit the ball as hard as I can and as far as I can."
Alaniz, a diminutive 5-foot-7, 130-pound outfielder, won the 16u Fastest Man with a clocking of 6.32 seconds over the 60-yard sprint.
Parrott was impressive in winning the 14u Rawlings Home Run Challenge during the 10-swing first round, sending six long balls beyond the temporary fence set up about 30 to 40 feet in front of the regulation wall at COP. A couple of his bombs did leave the park entirely, however.
"It's a lot of fun to come out here and compete against the other kids," said Parrott, a 5-11, 185-pound four position prospect in the class of 2016 at Lovejoy High School in Lucas. "This is the first time I've ever won; usually I'll go out there and hit one or two but I felt it today. It's beautiful out here, the stadium's nice and the weather was beautiful.
"I usually go out there and over-swing (in home run competitions) but I've kind of gotten to where I don't really care if I win; I just want to go out there and have fun and see how many I can hit," he continued. "I want to stay loose because if you stay loose you'll hit more."
Abreu (class of 2016) won the 14u Fastest Man Contest with a time of 6.33 seconds.
"These are fun for me because I like to run," he said, adding he used to run track when he was in elementary school but gave it up in middle school when he started playing travel ball.
Games in both the 14u and 16u BCS Finals begin Sunday at venues in Fort Myers and Cape Coral.