Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bronze medal: DIXIE 12, NABF 2 - BOX


Braxton Davidson hit his third home run of the Tournament of Stars and Greg Deichmann hit his second, leading DIXIE to a third-place finish.


Davidson, a North Carolina commitment from Arden, N.C., was 2-for-3 and drove in four runs for DIXIE, the tournament's highest scoring team.


Deichman, an LSU commitment from Metairie, La., was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and scored three times.


DIXIE's third double-digit output of the tournament came in Sunday's third-place game.


Tyler Kolek, the starter for NABF, allowed Davidson's homer and took the loss. He allowed three runs, two earned, on two hits, struck out four and walked two.


DIXIE starter Derek Casey, a Mechanicsville, Va., resident who has committed to Virginia, got the win. He needed only 71 pitches to go 5 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out six. He walked one.


Notes:  Mitch Hart had a rough outing for NABF, giving up eight runs, five of them earned, in three innings. Deichman's homer came off Hart. … Stone Garrett went 2-for-4 with a double for DIXIE. … Davidson was hit by a pitch twice on Sunday, meaning he reached base in four of his five plate appearances … Jeren Kendall had two hits for NABF, the only player with more than one.


Fifth place: Stars 9, American Legion 4 - BOX 


Alex Destino went 2-for-5 and drove in four runs, and Brandon Vicens, Elijah Skipps and Evan Skoug had two hits each in the victory.


Jeff Bain allowed one run in three innings and struck out two for the win. Stars starter Keith Weisenberg struck out six in three innings, allowing two runs on three hits.


Ryder Ryan doubled and drove in a run for American Legion, and Chase Vallot also had a double. Leadoff hitter Khalil Macklin had two hits.


American Legion starter Colton Hock took the loss, giving up three runs in 2 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out one.


Notes:   Gage Hinsz struck out four in two innings of relief for American Legion. He allowed two hits and walked one, but didn't allow a run. … Zachary Carter was 1-for-1 and walked four times for the Stars. He scored two runs. … Four Stars pitchers allowed only four hits and combined for 11 strikeouts.


Seventh place: AABC 4, RBI 3 - BOX


Spencer Levine's sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth scored Jack Flaherty with the go-ahead run for AABC.


Flaherty walked to lead off the inning, and Travis Jones was hit by a pitch.


One out later, Cole Tucker's infield single loaded the bases before Levine hit a ball to center that was deep enough to score Flaherty.


Michael Kopech pitched a hitless ninth for the save.


The ninth inning completed a comeback for AABC.


Denz'l Chapman's bases-loaded single in the second, and a bobble on the play in the outfield, had given RBI a 3-0 lead.


Chapman reached base four times -- with three singles and a hit by pitch. He executed a hit-and-run in the fourth and finished with two stolen bases, giving him seven in four games at the Tournament of Stars.


The rally started in the fourth, when AABC's Jacob Gatewood singled to left to score Michael Rivera in the fourth, cutting RBI's lead to 3-1.


Consecutive singles by Jack Flaherty and Travis Jones started the AABC seventh, and a passed ball, an errant throw by the catcher and Shane Mardirosian's safety squeeze scored them to tie the game at 3.


The score stayed there until the ninth.


Notes:  RBI left fielder James Davison made a great catch on a drive to the fence by Tanner Gardner, over the shoulder, then slammed into fence. ... RBI starter Nathan Hadley pitched well, striking out five and displaying a nice changeup in three innings.

Saturday June 22, 2013

Game 9: PONY 9, NABF 6 - BOX

The PONY team had a pretty good idea of what it needed to do in the final game of pool play at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars on Saturday if it wanted to reach Sunday's championship game. Win -- by a lot.

PONY scored nine runs in the first two innings, then held off NABF for a 9-6 victory.

Jeremy Vasquez, JJ Schwarz and Liam Sabino drove in two runs each for PONY, which improved to 2-1 in the Tournament of Stars.   

PONY won the tiebreaker, by virtue of the Stars' victory over AABC, and advanced to Sunday's Tournament of Stars championship game, which starts at 12:30 p.m.

Vasquez, a Florida commitment from Palm City, Fla., reached base four times -- three singles and a walk.

"We got the nine runs, and I think we had to beat that team by seven to make it to the championship," Vasquez said. "But I'll take a win."

Vasquez had struggled in the Tournament of Stars before Saturday, going 1-for-5 in the first two games. But a good skills day and Saturday's performance improved his outlook.

"I've had a lot more fun after today, with the good game," he said. "I started out a little slow the first two games, but I found my rhythm today.

"They were throwing a lot of balls, so I was expecting a lot of fastballs to come. When they did, I just put a good swing on them."

Four PONY pitchers combined to limit NABF to nine hits and struck out 13. Reliever Jake Latz, an LSU commitment from Lemont, Ill., got a six-out save, striking out three and never allowing a ball out of the infield.

"I knew the hitters had seen three pitchers before me, so I wanted to keep them off balance and mix in all three pitches," Latz said. "I knew if they were sitting on my fastball I wouldn't have as much success."

Latz said the outing, and his experience at the Tournament of Stars, was a baseball highlight for him.   

"It's been awesome -- the weather, the field, the facility over here, it was really cool," he said. "I love the experience USA Baseball gives us, it's really nice. It's definitely one of the top things I've ever been a part of."

On Sunday, he and the other 143 players at the USA Baseball National Training Complex will find out who made the cut to 40 players for trials in Los Angeles in mid-August. That group will be cut to 20 members of the 18U National team, which will play in the IBAF 18U World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan, starting in late August.

Latz hopes he makes that cut.

 "I feel good, I did well," he said. "I thought I could do a little more, but I just went out there and did the best I could, and I feel good about what I did."

Alex Verdugo was the starter and loser for NABF, giving up seven runs in an inning-plus. He remained in the game as the designated hitter, though, and went 3-for-4 with an RBI and three stolen bases, including second and third on consecutive pitches in the sixth.

Notes: Vasquez said he did well on skills day, but "felt a little small at first base compared to the other ones." He's listed at 5-foot-11, 198 pounds. … Chandler Avant stole two bases for PONY, and Derek Hill and Matt Railey stole one each. … Jonathan Ducoff and Nick Shumpert had doubles for NABF, and Michael Hickman had two hits.


Game 10: Babe Ruth 3, RBI 0 - BOX

Quinn Brodey struck out five in two innings of relief and Babe Ruth held RBI to three hits to improve to 3-0 and advance to Sunday's championship game against PONY, starting at 12:30 p.m.

The Babe Ruth pitching staff has given up seven runs in three Tournament of Stars games.   

Starter Brady Aiken pitched two hitless innings, and Griffin Canning followed with three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out five.

John Gavin and Jack Labosky each pitched a scoreless inning.

"This pitching staff is great," said Brodey, a left-handed Stanford commitment from Los Angeles. "Every guy comes out here and throws strikes and has two or three pitches working every day.

"I would not like to be another team facing these guys. When they're hitting their spots, which everybody has been doing so far, they're hard to hit."

Brodey's two scoreless innings were an improvement on his Wednesday outing, when he gave up two runs on two hits in 2 1/3 innings.

He said the difference on Saturday was a talk about mechanics with a member of the coaching staff.

"I was really feeling my changeup today," he said. "I threw that a lot in (my) second inning. That's my go-to most of the time, and I throw my curveball when I need it. I love going to my changeup and keeping guys off balance."

Brodey said the atmosphere on the Babe Ruth team makes him feel good about its chances in the championship game.

"It's just such a great group of guys. Everybody's getting along and pulling in the same direction. We all want to win, we all want to do well, and it's been easy to get along with everybody."

Notes: RBI's Denz'l Chapman was 1-for-1 with a walk and two stolen bases. He has five stolen bases in three Tournament of Stars games. … James Davison and Dazon Cole had the other hits for RBI. … Babe Ruth's Brock Lundquist had a triple and a single. Devon Fisher had a double, and his sacrifice fly in the eighth drove in the final run. … RBI was 0-3 in pool play.


Game 11 - DIXIE 13, Legion 3 - BOX

Greg Deichmann's grand slam highlighted an eight-run sixth as DIXIE rolled.

With the victory, DIXIE clinched second place in Pool B, and will play in the third-place game on Sunday.

DIXIE scored a run in the first on Kel Johnson's double, and American Legion came back in the third with a run on Khalil Macklin's sacrifice fly.

Bobby Bradley, who finished 3-for-4, had a two-run triple in the third over the American Legion center fielder's head, giving DIXIE a 4-1 lead.  

American Legion answered with a run in the fourth on Ryder Ryan's RBI triple, making it 4-2.

Johnson was hit by a pitch to start the DIXIE fifth, moved to second on a Bradley single, took third on a double-play grounder and scored on Handsome Monica's single up the middle.    

That set up the big DIXIE sixth, highlighted by Deichman's homer.

Notes: Four DIXIE pitchers scattered four hits, striking out eight. … John Henry Styles was credited with the win. … Deichmann, an LSU commitment from Matarie, La., also had perhaps the longest bat throw of the tournament in the fifth, sailing his lumber over the American Legion first baseman's head and to the edge of the outfield. He added pine tar, but struck out on the next pitch. … Radar showed rain threatening in the early innings, scrambling the USA Baseball tarp crews, but the moisture never came. … Marvin Gorgas drove in an American Legion run with an RBI single in the eighth.


Game 12 - Stars 6, AABC 5 - BOX

Stars reliever Jakson Reetz came into the bottom of the ninth with a four-run lead and the fate of his team -- and another team's championship hopes -- in his hands.

He says he'd rather have it that way than not.

AABC made it interesting. Two-out RBI doubles by Kyle Molnar, Michael Rivera and Jack Flaherty cut the margin to a run before Reetz got Bryce Carter to line out to center for the final out.

"I had a 6-2 lead so I just had to throw strikes and get the first couple of outs," Reetz said. "They got a couple of good hits off me, and I just had to trust my defense and let them get the outs for me. I left a couple of balls up, but I just trusted our defense and my catcher and good things happened."

They happened for the PONY squad, too.

There were three championship-game scenarios heading into the final game of pool play. AABC controlled its destiny. By winning and allowing four runs or fewer, AABC would meet Babe Ruth for the title on Sunday.

An AABC win while allowing five or more runs would have sent NABF to the title game.

But a Stars win would send PONY to the title game, by virtue of a head-to-head victory over NABF.

Ultimately, that scenario played out.    

It wasn't easy.

AABC took the lead in the second. Jacob Gatewood had an infield single before Michael Rivera's sacrifice bunt was thrown into right field, putting runners at second and third. After Jack Flaherty was hit by a pitch, Tanner Gardner's sacrifice fly to the warning track in right scored Gatewood. Rivera then scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 AABC.

The Stars got a run in the third to cut the lead to 2-1. Brendan Rodgers reached on an error, took second on a balk and scored on Luke Dykstra's single between third and short.

In the sixth, the Stars took the lead, with Reetz again playing a role.

Center fielder Brandon Vicens drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored on a Reetz triple.

Reetz scored on a Joe Wainhouse single, putting the Stars up, 3-2.

Wainhouse scored two batters later when AABC couldn't turn a double play on an Evan Skoug grounder. Then Skoug scored on an Elijah Skipps single to make it 5-2 and eliminate AABC from title contention.

Reetz added another RBI single in the seventh to make it 6-2.

Afterward, he said he relaxed Saturday, and that paid dividends at the plate. He had been 1-for-6 coming in.

"I haven't seen the ball very well," he said. "I had a couple of strikeouts -- I had four -- but I just had to let loose a little bit and I had to breathe, and good things started happening when I stopped overthinking it."

Notes: Saturday's game was the first tournament appearance for Gatewood, who arrived Friday. ... Flaherty pitched 3 1/3 innings, striking out five and allowing one hit. ... AABC's Tanner Gardner had two loud at-bats early, with his sacrifice fly to the track in right and a blast to left that cleared the wall, just foul. … Alex Destino got the win with two scoreless innings of relief. … Starter Kiko Garcia gave up one earned run in four innings for the Stars. … AABC pitcher Grant Hockin took the loss, giving up the four Stars runs in the sixth. … Scott Hurst had a single and a double for AABC, but was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple.


Thursday June 20, 2013

Game 5 - DIXIE 12, RBI 0 - BOX

Braxton Davidson was 3-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs as DIXIE shut out RBI, 12-0, on Thursday at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars.

Davidson, a North Carolina verbal commitment who plays at T.C. Roberson High near Asheville, N.C., also stole a base and drew a walk.

"I just went up there not trying to muscle the ball, just see it and hit it and see what happens," Davidson said. "(In Game 1 on Wednesday) I was trying to muscle up, swing too hard for my own good. Today I just stayed relaxed."

The Tournament of Stars divides 144 of the nation's best 18U baseball players into eight teams for an event that begins the selection process for the USA Baseball 18U National Team. That squad plays in the IBAF 18U World Cup in Taiwan starting in late August.

DIXIE starter Bennett Sousa, from North Palm Beach, Fla., threw three no-hit innings, walking four and striking out five. Derek Casey, of Mechanicsville, Va., got the win, going three scoreless innings. Both Sousa and Casey are Virginia commitments.

For RBI, Denz'l Chapman, of Los Angeles, was 1-for-2 with two walks and stole three bases. Chapman's Serra High teammate, Marcus Wilson, and Ronnie Williams, of Miami, had two hits each.  

RBI starter Nathan Hadley, of Encino, Calif., took the loss, giving up three runs on two hits in 1 2/3 innings. He walked four.

JJ Matijevic of North Huntingdon, Pa., was 2-for-6 with three RBIs for DIXIE. John Jones, of Orlando, had three RBIs as well.

DIXIE is 1-1 in the Tournament of Stars, and RBI is 0-2.


Game 6 - NABF 1, Stars 0 - BOX

Jeren Kendall got an infield hit in the eighth, moved to third on an errant pickoff throw and scored on a Lane Thomas single for the only run.

Kendall, of Holmen, Wisc., and Thomas, of Knoxville, Tenn., had two of the four hits for NABF.

NABF starter Justus Sheffield, a Vanderbilt commitment from Nashville, Tenn., was dominant on the mound, throwing 64 pitches in five innings and striking out six. He allowed two hits and walked two. He was joined by Mitch Hart of Granite Bay, Calif., and Kyle Wright of Huntsville, Ala., in the shutout.  

Four Stars pitchers combined to strike out 11. Zachary Carter of Arlington, Texas, pitched 3 1/3 hitless innings. Jeff Bain of Pasadena, Calif., took the loss.

NABF improved to 2-0 in the Tournament of Stars, and the Stars are 0-2.


Game 7 - PONY 1 AABC 5 - BOX

Kyle Molnar (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) drove in two runs and Brandon Murray (Hobart, Ind.) pitched 3 2/3 innings of hitless relief for the victory.  

Spencer Levine (Miami) was 2-for-4 with a triple and Scott Hurst (Glendora, Calif.) doubled and scored a run for AABC. 

PONY's only run came on a came on a homer to right by leadoff hitter Matt Railey, a Tallahassee, Fla., resident and Florida State commitment.   

Both teams are 1-1 after Day 2 of the Tournament of Stars.

NOTE: There are no games Friday as the players break into position groups for evaluation workouts. The players choose their position group and work out with others who have made the same choice, giving the 18U National Team evaluators a head-to-head comparison. The final day of pool play is Saturday, and placement games are Sunday, with the championship game at noon.


Game 8 - Babe Ruth 9, American Legion 5 - BOX

Dayton Provost, a 2015 prospect from Newhall, Calif., hit a three-run double in the bottom of the seventh, giving gave Babe Ruth its first lead.

Babe Ruth scored four runs in the inning off Gage Hinsz (Billings, Mont.), drawing four walks before Provost's shot to left.

The inning made a winner of Joe DeMers (Martinez, Calif.), who pitched two scoreless innings with a walk and two strikeouts. He didn't allow a hit.

Khalil Macklin (Rocky Mount, N.C.) and Jakob Goldfarb (Scottsdale, Ariz.) drove in two runs each for the Legion team, and Marvin Gorgas (East Hampton, Conn.) had an RBI triple.

Babe Ruth had cut the American Legion margin to 5-3 in the fourth, scoring three times on a hit and five walks.  

Brock Lundquist (Fountain Valley, Calif.) had a double for Babe Ruth. Nick Valaika (Valencia, Calif.) added two hits, including a double. Jack Labosky (Clovis, Calif.) and Devon Fisher (Portsmouth, Va.) drove in insurance runs in the eighth.

Babe Ruth improved to 2-0 in the Tournament of Stars. American Legion is 1-1.


Wednesday June 19, 2013

Game 1 - AABC 0, NABF 3 - BOX

Tyler Kolek, Cody Reed and Jake Godfrey combined on a two-hit shutout as NABF beat AABC, 3-0, in the Tournament of Stars opener for both teams.

Kolek, a TCU commitment from Shepherd, Texas, was the winner, going four innings, striking out three and allowing only a bunt single to Jack Flaherty.

Godfrey, who is committed to Notre Dame, got the save.

Lane Thomas led NABF at the plate with a double and a triple for two of the team's four hits. Jeren Kendall and Alex Verdugo had a hit apiece, and Justus Sheffield walked twice and stole a base.

Thomas also scored the game's first run. After a double to the gap in left-center, he took third on a groundout and scored on a wild throw from first.

Another unearned run scored on a throwing error by catcher Bryce Carter on a double-steal in the third.

NABF scored again with the aid of an error and a wild pitch in the seventh. Justus Sheffield walked, took second on a bad throw on a sacrifice bunt attempt, moved to third on a double-steal and scored on a wild pitch.

AABC starter Michael Kopech took the loss, giving up two runs, neither earned.

Travis Jones had the other hit for AABC.


Game 2 - American Legion 6, RBI 5 - BOX

Trenton Kemp tripled home the tying run and scored the game winner in the eighth inning.

Kemp, an outfielder from Clovis, Calif., who has committed to Fresno State, drove in Ryder Ryan from first with the tying run, then scored on an infield single by Kyle Gilbert for the winning margin. Legion had just three hits before getting six in the eighth inning.

Ryan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for Legion to earn the save.

Rahman Williams reached base four times for RBI, with a double, a single and two walks. Khalil Jordan had two hits, including a two-run single.


Game 3 - Babe Ruth 4, DIXIE 2 - BOX

Jack Labosky drove in two runs with a fourth-inning single, and four pitchers held DIXIE to three hits.

Monte' Harrison and Brock Lundquist also drove in runs for Babe Ruth, which finished with nine hits.

The first two DIXIE hits came in the eighth inning, when Stone Garrett singled up the middle and, a batter later, Georgia Tech commitment Kel Johnson homered to left field to cut the margin to 4-2.

DIXIE loaded the bases in the ninth, but Quinn Brodey pitched out of the jam.

Babe Ruth reliever Griffin Canning got the win. Starter Brady Aiken struck out seven.


Game 4 - Pony 7, USA Stars 2 - BOX

CARY, N.C. -- With all that is on the line this week at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, including the pressure of being evaluated for a potential spot on the 18U National Team that will play in the IBAF 18U World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan, once the players take the field, it's baseball.

Do your job, expect the next guy to do his, and in theory everything will work out.

That was the formula the Pony team used in Wednesday night's 7-2 victory over the USA Stars in the final game of Day 1 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.

Prime among those doing their job well were two players from Florida -- Tallahassee's Matt Railey and Miramar's Brian Gonzalez.

Railey, batting leadoff, was 1-for-2, walked twice, stole a base and scored two runs, both in the first two innings, setting the tone for the Pony team.

Gonzalez produced at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a two-run single in the second inning, and on the mound, where he went the final 1 1/3 innings in relief, allowing only one hit and striking out two.

For those two, it was just baseball. And both say they have already bonded with their Tournament of Stars teammates despite the short time frame and the underlying competition.

"We've done this a lot, come in and they put us together," said Railey, an outfielder who has committed to Florida State. "If we all play the game right, if everybody knows their role and gets their job done, it's not a big deal."

Gonzalez agreed that bonding won't be difficult.

"Especially when we're winning, I think it will be easier," he said. "But all these guys are tremendous guys. They're so talented and so nice, they don't really care who you are or what you do, they just come up and talk to you. They're not shy."

The ability to both pitch and play a position gives Gonzalez more chances for his pursuit of Team USA, he said.  

 "It just gives me options, really," he said. "Maybe they could see me at one position and maybe they could see me on the mound. It gives me more chances to make the team, make the cut.

 "It's nice being a two-way player."

At a solid 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, he's even versatile as a pitcher. He closed out Wednesday's game, although it wasn't a save situation, and said he can also start.

"It's either-or, right now," Gonzalez said. "I could do both. It's kind of like two (different) people out there: When it's a closing situation you've got to get it done, and starting is all about going the distance. It's two different types of pitching."

His versatility, though, also gives him a choice to make for Friday's skills-evaluation day. He'll have to pick a position group to be measured against. What will he do?

"People ask me, but I'm not sure," he said. "I could go either way. I probably am a little bit more confident on the mound, but I feel just as strong at the plate or at first. I guess I'll just have to decide."

For Railey, there is no such decision. He knows what he has to do to help his team, and to have a chance to make Team USA.

 "I'm just trying to go out and play the game right, work hard, do the little things," he said. "I'm not trying to hit the ball over the fence, just do my job as a leadoff. I'm trying to get to second every time so the person behind me can get me around to score." 

And although there is a bigger goal, it's still a tournament. How sweet would it be for the Pony League to win the championship game on Sunday?

 "It would be great," Railey said. "It would be even better if I was one of the main reasons."

Notes: Gonzalez said he felt like he could pitch again in the tournament, even Thursday if called upon. He threw 17 pitches (14 of them strikes) to five batters. … Jakson Reetz and Evan Skoug, who split time behind the plate for the USA Stars, drove in their team's only runs. Reetz's RBI double was a shot to the gap in left-center. … Reetz also threw out two runners at second and narrowly missed erasing another at third. … The Pony League team roughed up Stars starter Clarke Schmidt, scoring five runs off the South Carolina commitment in 1 2/3 innings. Schmidt allowed three hits and walked six. All five runs were earned.