GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It's a roster comprised of eight prospects in the class of 2015 (high school sophomores) with three 2014s (juniors) and even one 2016 (freshman). None of those players have cracked Perfect Game's prospect rankings and almost all are playing in their first PG event.
But Lamorinda Baseball wasted little time in getting its name out there Sunday morning at the Perfect Game/EvoShield National Championship (Underclass) when as the No. 16 seed it blew past the No. 1 Playa Vista Orioles 16u, 8-0 in five innings, in the first round of the playoffs.
Lamorinda Baseball, based in Moraga, Calif., finished 2-1 in pool-play and got into the 16-team playoffs as one of four wild-card entries. It lost to the So Cal Cavs, 6-5, in its final pool-play game after squandering a 5-1 lead by giving up five runs in the top of the seventh inning.
It then bounced a Playa Vista Orioles team that had earned the No. 1 seed by outscoring its three pool-play opponents by a combined 33-1.
"I guess I wouldn't say I'm all that surprised. We were only one bad inning away from being the No. 5 seed," Lamorinda head coach Andy Tarpley said Sunday morning from one of the Cincinnati Reds spring training practice fields at the Goodyear Sports and Recreation Complex.
"These guys have (played around the country) and we could play against the Yankees and hopefully put the same product out there as we would against anybody. It's about how we play the game and not who we're playing."
While Lamorinda's bats were active against the Orioles, right-hander Kyle Lally (2014, Clayton, Calif.) was the difference-maker. Lally threw five one-hit, shutout innings while striking out three and walking one, and 40 of the 66 pitches he threw went for strikes. Tarpley has gotten strong pitching throughout his team's first four games here.
"In a three-day span you have to take care of the arms, or as I call it 'valuable cargo,'" he said. "You can't over-extend these guys and we've got real tight pitch-counts on them, and pitching takes care of the game."
A core of four hitters -- Kyle Barfield (2014, College Station, Texas), Blake Hannah (2015, Vacaville, Calif.), Josef Morris (2016, Vacaville, Calif.) and Trevor Larnach (2015, Concord, Calif.) -- have provided the vast majority of the offense. That foursome combined to hit .444 (20-for-45) with 19 RBI and 20 runs scored in the first four games.
Rick Rider founded Lamorinda Baseball in 2003 and now fields seven teams from 10u all the way up to 18u. The organization is just now starting to get involved with Perfect Game and Rider expects that involvement to grow.
"Our idea is to play nationally and compete nationally at the big tournaments, and that includes some of the guys playing with the Angels (Baseball); a lot of those guys played with us nationally," Rider said Sunday. "We're trying to develop the kids through having them play against the very best competition they can find."
Rider said he expects their involvement with Perfect Game to grow as PG continues its expansion into the younger age groups.
"We're trying to get them battle-tested right from the get-go," Rider said of youngsters 13 and younger. "Then when they get to this level and into high school, hopefully they're ready to play varsity baseball as freshmen."
Lamorinda Baseball (3-1) moved into Sunday afternoon's quarterfinals where it was to face No. 8 SGV Arsenal (4-0). Tarpley said he really didn't come into the PG/EvoShield Underclass with extraordinarily high expectations.
"We were a little light-squadded because we lost a few of our players that had played with us all summer to fall ball ... so I really didn't know," he said. "My game plan coming in was to try to win every game and when we run out of gas, we run out of gas. They're exceeding my expectations and they know how to play the game properly, so never count us out."