North Coast Reds wear 16u PG WWBA West Memorial Day crown
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – The team from Concord, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay Area came to the desert with a roster of 15 prospects, most of whom just completed their freshman year in high school, a couple who were sophomores and a couple more who were eighth-graders.
It was one of those eighth-graders that carried the weekend.
Christian Encarnacion Strand, a 14-year-old shortstop and leadoff hitter for the North Coast Reds, had one of the more memorable Perfect Game tournament performances on record and helped the Reds to the championship at the 4th annual 16u PG WWBA West Memorial Day Classic Monday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark.
The Reds beat War Eagle 16u from nearby Mesa, Ariz., 11-7, in the championship game. It was both teams’ third game of the day but it was the Reds’ second straight high-scoring game and both approached the 3-hour mark. At the end of the long day, however, they were the only team in the tournament field with a 7-0 record, and were heading back to the Bay Area with a championship trophy in tow.
“This has been an amazing experience for our boys,” North Coast Reds head coach Greg Redmond said after the marathon day. “We brought 15 boys and every kid contributed to the (championship), and I’m proud of them. All I can say is we’re coming back.”
Encarnacion Strand was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored in the title game to cap a monster four-day tournament performance. He was 14-for-22 (.636) with five doubles, two triples, five RBI, 12 runs scored and a 1.712 OPS, and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
In reality, just about every hitter wearing a North Coast uniform was pretty good at the plate over the past four days: the Reds hit .408 as a team with 25 extra-base hits in seven games.
Matt Pascual-Mead, a 2017 from Orinda, Calif., hit .857 (6-for-7) with two doubles, five RBI, five runs and a 2.060 OPS. He also made two appearances on the mound, working eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Redmond called this group a “grassroots” team that he put together about seven years ago, and there has been a core of seven or eight young players that have been with him since the 12u level.
“This is a lifetime experience for these boys to play against quality competition on excellent fields,” Redmond said. “We’re very lucky to have been allowed to participate in the tournament to begin with, and I think we represented well.”
War Eagle 16u finished at 5-1-1 and averaged seven runs a game. The pitching was pretty good, as well, and 2016 right-hander Aaron Makil from Mesa – just about the entire War Eagle roster attends Westwood High School – worked nine innings in two appearances without allowing a run on three hits, with nine strikeouts and three walks. He was named the Most Valuable Pitcher.
A total of 42 runs were scored in the two 16u West Memorial Day semifinal games, with the North Coast Reds outlasting the T-Rex Baseball Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.), 15-11, and War Eagle 16u getting past the Arizona Baseball Club (Phoenix), 11-7.
The Reds scored nine runs in the top of the first and added three more in the top of the second to take an early 12-5 lead, but T-Rex – after a five-run first inning of its own – answered with two in the bottom of the third and three in the bottom of the fourth to move within 12-10. The Reds came back with three in the top of the sixth to seal the win.
Nicholas Simmons and Jake Renteria each doubled twice and drove in two runs apiece to lead North Coast. Christian Encarnacion Strand, Cameron Nodal and Joseph Sisneros all drove in two runs each for the Reds. Jacob Gonzalez, son of former big-league All-Star Luis Gonzalez, had two hits, including a double and drove in three runs, and Scott Mahan had a pair of hits and drove in two to lead T-Rex.
A back-and-forth affair led to War Eagle 16u taking a 6-5 lead into the seventh inning where it rallied for five runs to grab the win from the Arizona Baseball Club.
Parker McKinsey was 2-for-3 with a double and five RBI, and Niko Piazza went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead War Eagle, which had seven players account for its 11 hits. Sam Huff doubled and drove in four runs for ABC.
2014 16u WWBA Memorial Day Classic runner-up: War Eagle 16u
2014 16u WWBA Memorial Day Classic MVP: Christian Encarnacion Strand, North Coast Reds
2014 16u WWBA Memorial Day Classic MV-Pitcher: Aaron Makil, War Eagle 16u
Team Phenom captures 14u West Memorial Day championship
GLENDALE, Ariz. – There might be a 14u Perfect Game tournament staged sometime in the future, perhaps even sometime this summer, where a team might rise up and hand a loss to Team Phenom out of Moreno Valley, Calif.
An equally talented squad might actually exploit a weakness – if one can be found – or just catch a lucky break at some point along the way. But two events into the 2014 PG tournament schedule, no 14u team from the western part of the country has been able to slove the mystery of exactly what it takes.
Team Phenom (6-0-0) breezed through its six games at the 14u PG WWBA West Memorial Day Classic over the weekend, including a 6-0 win over the Warriors Baseball Academy 2018 (5-1-0) in the championship game Monday afternoon at Camelback Ranch.
The Phenoms outscored their six opponents here, 42-6, just four months after finishing 6-0 and outscoring its opponents, 33-9, while winning the championship at the 14u Perfect Game MLK Championship at Camelback Ranch in January. That’s a 12-0 record with an average winning score of about 6-1 while winning two PG tournament championships.
“For me it’s kind of hard because I dictate success on long-term success,” Team Phenom founder and head coach Joe Keller told PG on Friday before his team had played its first game here. “I don’t really think winning a tournament builds who you are as a person. We could lose this weekend – are we favored to win? well, yes – but if we lose it doesn’t change who we are as people or it doesn’t change how good of players these guys really are.
“It’s the step-by-step of making sure, first, these guys are getting prepared for high school and the next step is hopefully getting them prepared for college.”
2017 right-hander Diego Alarcon threw a complete game shutout and Brandon Rho hit a two-run double as part of a four-run third inning, and finished with three RBI in the Phenom’s championship victory over the Warriors Baseball Academy.
This was Alcarcon’s first appearance in the tournament, but by producing such a stellar effort in the title game he was named the event’s Most Valuable Pitcher. Team Phenom's Preston Hartsell, a 2018 from Newport Coast, Calif., went 6-for-18 (.333) with a double, two RBI and five runs scored and was named the Most Valuable Player.
Both Team Phenom and the Warriors Baseball Academy 2018 played three games in nearly 100-degree heat on Monday and came through with flying colors. Team Phenom beat the Tucson (Ariz.) Champs 14u, 7-3, in the quarterfinals and the Warriors topped SO CAL SKLZ (San Diego), 6-2, in the same round Monday morning.
Team Phenom’s Daniel Mendez hit a two-run single in the top of the fourth to tie the game at two and Zachary Lew drew a bases loaded walk in the top of the fifth to drive in what proved to be winning run, and Team Phenom beat the Stetson Hills Stealth (Phoenix), 3-2, in one 14u West semifinal Monday afternoon.
Right-hander Sean Osceola threw a complete-game four-hitter, struck out 10 and walked two without allowing an earned run for Team Phenom. Righty Mason Millett threw six innings of four-hit ball and allowed three earned runs while striking out three and walking seven for the Stealth, which scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the first.
The Warriors Baseball Academy 2018 used a complete game, six-hit shutout from right-hander Griffin Hampton and an overwhelming 14-hit attack of their own to dump the Desert Cats (Peoria, Ariz.), 9-0, in the other 14u semifinal.
Jacob Robson was 3-for-4 with a double and Dominik Demarbiex was 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored to lead the Warriors’ 14-hit effort. Antonio Brite singled twice and drove in three runs and Sasha Sneider also singled twice and scored three runs.
2014 14u WWBA Memorial Day Classic champion: Team Phenom
2014 14u WWBA Memorial Day Classic runner-up: Warriors Baseball Academy 2018
2014 14u WWBA Memorial Day Classic MVP: Preston Hartsell, Team Phenom
2014 14u WWBA Memorial Day Classic MV-Picher: Diego Alarcon, Team Phenom