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Tournaments : : Story
18U Championship Day Preview
Todd Gold         Ben Collman        
Published: Friday, July 08, 2011

Marietta, GA- Just four team remain as the 2011 18U WWBA National Championship wraps up today with two semifinal games followed by the championship.

One semi-final matchup will have Dulins Dodgers facing the East Cobb Yankees while the other has the San Diego Show taking on the East Cobb Braves 17U.

Each team won their five-game round-robin pool before winning three games on Thursday to earn a trip to the semifinals.

The Memphis, TN based Dulins Dodgers rolled thru pool play with a 5-0 record, outscoring their opponents by a count of 46-12 during pool play. They continued yesterday with a 10-0 win over the Citius Bandits and 5-1 and 2-1 victories over the Ohio Warhawks and Excel Blue Wave. 2012 2B/RHP Kyle Overstreet came in for the save in both games after quality starts by RHP John Marc Shelley vs. the Warhawks (6 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 3 K), and LHP Will Jamison vs. the Blue Wave (5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K)

Along with having one of the top 18U teams in the country, the Dodgers have been dominant at the 14 and 15U level at recent Perfect Game tournaments. They were runners-up in the 2011 14U WWBA tournament, and were also runners up in the 2010 15U BCS and 14U WWBA, after winning the 14U WWBA in 2009.

The 2011 18U Dodgers feature a mix of 2011 and 2010 graduates, highlighted by SS Mookie Betts, a 2011 5th round pick by the Red Sox. 1B Shane Riley has been the offensive leader, batting .522 with 7 RBI so far. It has been their pitching that has carried them to the semifinals, as their team ERA sits 1.71 for the tournament. RHPs Shelley, Caleb Delee, and Brady Bramlett all have yet to give up a run in a combined 20 innings of work.

Dulins alumni boasts 325 college players and 52 professional players, led by Giants RHP Matt Cain, Rangers CF Julio Borbon, and LHP Drew Pomeranz, taken by the Indians with the #5 overall pick in the 2010 Draft.

One of the most consistent programs at developing early round draft picks and top college players is Dulins semifinal opponent, the East Cobb Yankees. LHPs Jed Bradley and Daniel Norris became 23rd and 24th former Yankee players to be drafted in the first or second round when they were chosen in the 2011 Draft. Their alumni lists has 23 players who went on to play in the major leagues including 1996 #1 overall pick Kris Benson, Cubs CF Marlon Byrd, Pirates closer Matt Capps, Diamondbacks SS Stephen Drew, Rockies CF Dexter Fowler, and White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham.

Nine former Yankees were drafted in 2011, including Norris, RHP Jake Burnette, and IF Tyler Gibson who are playing on this year’s 18U squad. The Yankees stumbled once in pool play, dropping a 2-1 contest to the MVP Expos, but won the pool with a 4-1 record. Thursday saw the Yankees pick up victories over Kentucky Baseball Club (9-1) and Chain Black ’12 (5-0) before beating Round Trip Baseball 7-6.

2012 C Ricky Sanchez leads the team with a .474 batting average over 19 tournament at-bats, 2012 3B Chase Scott is not far behind, hitting .409 with two 2B, 3B, HR, and 6 RBI. A Blue Jay 2nd rounder, Norris has 4 RBI at the plate along with a 5 inning, 4 H, 10 K performance in the Yankees loss Tuesday. He topped out at 93 on the day, also showing a 78 mph slider, and 76 mph curve. Norris’ HS teammate, RHP Will Carter has been dominant on the mound, pitching 12 shutout innings, allowing only four hits, while striking out four.

One of the favorites coming into this tournament was the East Cobb Braves 17U, consistently one of the top teams in the country. The Braves finished runners-up in the 2010 WWBA 18U tournament after winning the title in 2009 and took home the 2010 BCS title. They also started the summer of 2011 by winning the 17/18 PG/EC Invitational last month. The Braves roster is star-studded as usual, with Blue Jays supplemental first round pick OF Dwight Smith playing in what is likely his last Perfect Game event. He is joined by LHP Matthew Crownover, OF Skye Bolt, LHP Mason Felt, and OF/LHP Kyle Carter, all who have a chance to follow in his footsteps and be early round draft picks. Recent Braves rosters are full of very high draft picks including first rounders LHP Josh Smoker, OF Donovan Tate, RHP Zach Wheeler, RHP Ethan Martin, OF Chevez Clarke, and a trio of current Florida Gators, RHPs Hudson Randall, Karsten Whitson, and Austin Maddox (also plays third base) that could be very early picks.

The Braves went 4-1 in pool play, dropping a game to the Miami Tigers, before posting wins over West End Baseball, Showtime Baseball, and TGBA 17U yesterday. OF Kyle Carter leads the team with a .471 average and 4 RBI in the tournament, and OF Dylan Dore has been an offensive catalysts with a HR, 5 RBI, and 10 runs scored. As a team the Braves have hit .322 and have scored 55 runs in their 8 games, just under seven per game. The Braves pitching has been dominant so far with a 2.38 ERA and 53 Ks in 50 IP. Crownover rolled thru 5 innings vs. Round Trip on Thursday, pitching five innings and striking out nine, topping out at 91 and showing very good feel for one of the best changeups in the class. RHP David Sosebee has allowed only two runs while striking out 18 in 11 innings of work.

The Braves opponent will be the only West Coast team to make it to the quarterfinals, the San Diego Show. Despite missing some of their top players and having to adapt to playing on East Coast time, the Show come into Friday undefeated going 7-0-1, tying Cannons Baseball on Tuesday. Yesterday, the Show gave up only two runs in their trio of wins, beating Bucky Dent Bandits Seminoles 6-2 before earning shutout wins over the Syracuse Sports Zone Chiefs and Homeplate Chilidogs. RHP Jake Reed threw all 5 innings, beating the Chiefs while scattering two hits and striking out two. He also came in and closed out final inning of a 1-0 win over the Chilidogs after RHP Bobby Zarubin went the first six innings giving up just a single hit.

RHP/IF Kyle Hayes has been the leader at the plate with a pair of home runs and nine RBI, as well as throwing a complete game, giving up four hits and striking out ten. His is a 2010 HS graduate who attended San Diego State last season before deciding to transfer, he is currently uncommitted for next season. Hayes will be on the mound against the Braves in the semi-final. Cody Sos has hit .471 at the plate and scored five runs at the plate. Other Show offensive standouts are 2011 SS Phillip Evans, a 15th round pick by the Mets. Evans followed in the footsteps of former Show players OF Nick Romero, 1B Clark Murphy by being selected to the AFLAC All-American Game. The Show’s most notable alumni are Washington Nationals #1 overall draft picks in the 2009 and 2010, RHP Stephen Strasburg and OF Bryce Harper.

The Show have routinely sent players to West Coast Division One programs eight members playing or committed to San Diego State, and five to San Diego. Three members of the 18U teams are committed to Oregon in RHP Jake Reed, 1B Eric Sapp, and 2011 Perfect Game All-American (previously AFLAC All-American) 3B Corey Oswalt. The Show look to be even stronger in next week’s 17U tournament as 3B Trey Williams, ranked #5 in the 2012 class, will be in Marietta, along with top 2013 LHPs Stephen Gonsalves and Ian Clarkin.

Check back all day as PG covers Championship Day of the 2011 18U WWBA National Championship. All games can be followed live via Gamechanger at http://www.gamechanger.io/g/1104.

Follow on twitter @highschoolPG for live updates, and check back staring tomorrow for blogs, videos, and twitter updates from the 17U WWBA National Championship.