EMERSON, Ga. – The Georgia Jackets 15u could do no wrong as they coasted to a 15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational championship title, becoming the first 15u team to win a tournament at Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint.
“It’s exciting,” said Georgia Jackets head coach Jeff Auterson. “Coming out here and getting our first Perfect Game victory has been exciting. It was a great tournament; a fun tournament.”
The Jackets’ bats were working as well as Chaney Rogers’ arm in the championship game, where they defeated Team Elite Prime 12-0, ending the game after four inning due to the run rule.
The big blow came in the bottom of the third inning when the Jackets put up seven runs, sending twelve hitter to the plate.
Four Jackets hitters had multi-hit performances, including Lawson Hill (3-for-3, 3 RBI, 1 R), Javier Valdes (2-for-3, 1 double, 2 R), Chaney Rogers (2-for-3, 1 double, 2 R), and tournament Most Valuable Player Will Lumpkin (2-for-2, 2 RBI, 2 R).
Chaney Rogers turned in a solid championship game pitching effort, throwing a four-inning complete game shutout, surrendering just two hits and a pair of walks while striking out six.
“Chaney’s magnificent; just as good as Weier(miller) is,” Auterson said. “He’s a fantastic lefty pitcher with an electric curveball.”
Austin Weiermiller earned tournament Most Valuable Pitcher honors after throwing a perfect game through eight innings, only to earn a no-decision as his team got the win in the ninth inning. Weiermiller collected ten strikeouts in his incredible performance.
“I was just going after the hitters; throwing a lot of fastballs, mixing in a couple of curveballs and changeups, and really just attacking hitters to get ahead in the count and make them put the ball in play,” Weiermiller said.
“We’re quite confident with anyone we put on the hill, but those two guys are just flat-out nasty,” said Auterson. “It’s all about pitching. The way they threw allowed us to stay in the ballgames because going from the BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) bat to the wood bat has been a transition for us. We haven’t been hitting the ball that well, so the pitching basically carried us this whole tournament.”
The Georgia Jackets 15u finished the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record, outscoring its opponents 53-3. Pitching was indeed outstanding, putting it likely. The staff combined for an astounding 0.21 earned-run average in 33.1 innings of work, giving up just 1 earned run on 11 hits and 8 walks, while tallying 45 strikeouts.
“I think we all feed off each other and we were all throwing great,” said Weiermiller. “It’s really awesome that we could feed off each other like that and help our team stay in the game.”
While pitching deserves much of the credit for the Jackets’ dominant road to victory, the hitting was not slacking either.
The team hit for a combined .386 batting average (54-for-140) and an eye-popping .508 on-base percentage. Lawson Hill and MVP Will Lumpkin each hit over .600 for the tournament, going a combined 17-for-27 and hitting back-to-back in the order.
“Lawson’s a superb catcher, just as Will (Lumpkin) is and having them hit back-to-back, especially as hot as they were at the very end, was awesome,” Auterson said. “They came up with some big two-out hits for us.”
“We came out and played ball and did out thing like we’re supposed to,” added Lumpkin.
It was a day the Georgia Jackets 15u team won’t soon forget, earning their first Perfect Game tournament championship and doing so at the brand new state-of-the-art Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint.
“Coming out here is a big ooh and aah experience for them,” said Auterson. “It has a big league taste to it. To play on a surface like this in an environment like this is what you dream of as a kid, as they ate it up.”
“We’ll be able to tell other people that come here that we were the first ones to win it at LakePoint,” added an excited Weiermiller.
The Georgia Jackets 15u shutout both its opponents in Friday’s semifinals and championship matchups, first defeating the Sandy Plains Wildcats 15u 10-0, and of course taking down Team Elite Prime 12-0, fully displaying they were the best team in the tournament.
2014 15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational runner-up: Team Elite Prime
2014 15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational MV-Pitcher: Will Lumpkin
2014 15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational MVP: Austin Weiermiller
The 13u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational championship, however, was much closer, coming down to the wire in a 4-3 win for talent-loaded team of MVP Elite Squad.
There was no cruising in the championship game for MVP Elite Squad, who had to climb their way out of an early 3-0 deficit. Kentucky Baseball Club-Blythe put up two runs in the top of the second inning and added their third run the very next frame, all while holding MVP Elite Squad hitless.
That would come to an abrupt end as tournament MVP Luis Tuero kicked off the come-from-behind effort in the bottom of the third with a leadoff double to right field. Tyler Kehoe reached on an error immediately following Tuero’s double.
Colton Olasin, a member of the inaugural 12u U.S. National Team, followed suit with a two-RBI double down the left field line, making it a 3-2 ballgame and putting the pressure back on KBC.
Another base hit by Tuero and a couple of fielding miscues in the bottom of the fifth inning gave MVP Elite Squad two more runs for a 4-3 lead, which would prove to be just enough.
“We started a little bit rough at the beginning, but it was a great ballgame,” said owner Mike Sagaro. “They’re a great team. We’ve never played them before. It was a great matchup.”
MVP Elite Squad supported their No. 1 team ranking by Baseball Youth, outscoring its opponents 42-13 in the team’s first ever Perfect Game tournament.
“It feels great,” said Sagaro. “This is one we’ve really been looking forward to playing in. We’re excited to play in our first Perfect Game tournament and come through with a big win.”
Big games are nothing new to the ultra-talented MVP Elite Squad, who has played in nationally televised championship games in the past.
“It’s that competitive nature they have while being on the big stage,” Sagaro said. “They’re never out of a ballgame. They keep it going and going and going; it’s never over until the last pitch.”
MVP Elite Squad went a combined 48-for-142 (.338 batting average), lead by leadoff hitter and offensive catalyst Luis Tuero, who went 9-for-15 (.600) with a pair of doubles, a triple, and an incredible .700 on-base percentage.
“My approach was to swing at the first pitch and be aggressive every at-bat,” Tuero said. “I tried to make the pitchers work, make them throw as many pitches as they can, and find ways to get on base.”
“Luis has been a great part of our ball club,” said Tuero. “He’s been in our organization for a while and played up with our 14u and 15u squads. He’s done a great job coming back down to this age group. He’s done a phenomenal job for us, both on the offensive and defensive sides.”
The pitching staff was paced by 13-year-old southpaw Yordani Carmona, who was clocked at 85 mph (miles per hour) in his first appearance of the tournament.
Carmona threw a complete five-inning game in the semifinal win over S3 Hustlers, giving up just three hits and three walks while tallying nine strikeouts.
“We were missing a few key players to our pitching staff, so we were trying to come in offensively and conserve our pitching,” Sagaro said. “We’ve had some good matchups with that Texas team (S3 Hustlers), so we decided to throw Carmona in the semifinal and he gave us a complete game and game plan went as planned.”
The hard throwing lefty surrendered just one earned run in 7.2 innings while tallying an impressive 17 strikeouts and two wins. He was named the Most Valuable Pitcher for the tournament.
“I was just in the zone from the start, just doing what I do,” Carmona said.
“It’s time and time again,” added Sagaro in regards to Carmona’s performance on the mound. “He’s something special. He’s definitely a player that Perfect game will be seeing for a long time. He’ll be one that will be on your watch list for a long time.”
MVP Elite Squad enjoyed a first-place trophy in their first ever Perfect Game tournament and can claim first 13u champions at the brand new state-of-the-art Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint.
2014 13u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational champions: MVP Elite Squad
2014 13u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational runner-up: Kentucky Baseball Club-Blythe
2014 13u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational MVP: Luis Tuero
2014 13u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational MV-Pitcher: Yordani Carmona