JUPITER, Fla. --It seemed as if there really wasn't much more Wesley Jones could do that he hadn't already done to help East Cobb Baseball win the championship at the 2012 PG WWBA World Championship.
Jones, a dynamic prospect from Lithonia, Ga., who has committed to the University of Georgia, had been a terror at the plate in ECB's first seven games at the elite World Championship, and had also manned the shortstop position flawlessly, fielding 23 chances without an error.
What else could he possibly do? The coaches at East Cobb Baseball had an idea.
Armed with a pitching staff that had delivered without fail throughout the tournament, the ECB coaches sent Jones to the mound as the starting pitcher in the event's championship game Monday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium. Jones was effective enough to help No. 2-seed East Cobb Baseball to an 8-2 win over No. 4 Chet Lemon's Juice and on to East Cobb's first PG WWBA World Championship title since it shared the crown with Chet's in 2005.
Everyone, scouts included, know Jones is a terrific player -- he is the nation's No. 112-ranked overall prospect in the class of 2013 -- but no one knew how effective he would be pitching on one of the biggest stages in amateur baseball.
"He's got a great arm and we had some guys who could give us some innings, just not a lot (of innings)," ECB coach Jeff Guy said after the championship game. "So we had to run Wesley out there first to see how many innings he could give us."
Just enough, it turned out. He worked four innings and gave up one earned run on one hit while striking out three, and left with East Cobb Baseball (8-0) leading 8-2, which turned out to be the final score. ECB scored single runs in each of the first and second innings, and added three runs in each of the third and fourth to blow it open.
2012 Perfect Game All-American Travis Demeritte was 3-for-3 with a double and four RBI to lead East Cobb's nine-hit attack. Eli White was 1-for-1 with three RBI and PG All-American Josh Hart singled twice and finished the tournament with a .571 on-base percentage.
Jones was 0-for-2 in the championship game, but his bat spoke much louder in ECB's previous seven games. He hit .524 (11-for-21) with four doubles, 10 RBI, four runs scored and an OPS of 1.256, and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"It's been a pretty good ride," Jones said. "We played a lot of tough teams and we had good pitchers that came along with it, and we did a great job with that. We have great players on the team -- real good players -- and great pitchers, too.
"I prepared for this and felt like I had a pretty good shot at (the MVP)," he added, noting that he was very surprised to get the nod as East Cobb's starting pitcher in the championship game.
Chet Lemon's Juice (7-1) managed only three hits off Jones and two other ECB hurlers in the title game. The real point of interest centered on the way head coach and former big-leaguer Chet Lemon utilized his pitching staff -- he marched nine pitchers out to the mound to work the six innings, and they combined to give up seven earned runs on nine hits while striking out six. In the Juice's seven previous games leading to the title game, five pitchers had combined to throw 43 of 48 innings.
One of those was hard-working 2013 right-hander from Valrico, Fla., Tyler Danish, the No. 96 top overall prospect in his class. In four appearances over the last four days, Danish won twice, threw 13 1/3 innings, gave up six hits and three earned runs (1.57 ERA), struck out 20 and walked four. He was named the WWBA World's Most Valuable Pitcher.
"It's a great experience down here. I've played with this team for two years; we're like family," Danish said. "Compared to last year's experience down here when we didn't even make it out of our pool, none of us will forget this. We were so close, and just seeing us lose the last game that we'll ever play here is rough, but it was a fun experience for sure."
It was ECB's pitching that led it to the championship. Over eight games, 12 pitchers worked 56 innings and gave up 29 hits and five earned runs (0.62) while striking out 59.
"Our pitching was outstanding," Guy said. "These guys, especially today playing three games, and we had two complete games. ... Our pitching was outstanding and that's what kept us in these games."
The East Cobb Astros and Chet Lemon's Juice were set to meet for the 2005 WWBA World Championship, but a monster rain storm flooded the playing field at Roger Dean Stadium and the game was cancelled. The teams were named co-champions.
"It was exciting and these kids played hard," Guy said. "It's been a while since we've been in the championship game (at the WWBA World) so I was glad to get back."
The two MVPs at this year's tournament very likely wrapped up their PG careers when the event concluded Monday. Both were appreciative of what they had experienced.
"This has been great. There were a lot of great players at this event and hopefully I'll see them in the future," Jones said.
"I wouldn't be where I am right now without Perfect Game and I just want to tell everyone (at PG) I appreciate everything that they've done for me," Danish said. "They've made me better by who we played and all the kids we've played against. I've become so much better as a pitcher than I was two years ago before I started Perfect Game."
EAST COBB BASEBALL ADVANCED TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME THANKS to two terrific pitching performances in the quarterfinals and semifinals Monday morning.
Right-hander Tyler Haswell, a South Carolina commit, threw a seven inning, three-hitter with eight strikeouts in East Cobb's 1-0 win over the No. 6 South Florida Elite Squad (6-1) in the semis. Jones smacked an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth for the game's only score.
A trio Elite Squad right-handers -- Shaun Anderson, Matt Hardy and Devin Meyer -- were pretty darn good themselves, combining on a six-inning three-hitter, with eight strikeouts.
The loss in the semifinals brought to an end a terrific run by this group of Elite Squad 2013s. Most of the players here were members of the team that won the 2011 PG WWBA 16u National Championship and the inaugural 17u Perfect Game World Series in late July.
Danish was spectacular in pitching the Juice into the championship game, allowing just four hits and striking out six in seven innings in a 3-1 win over the top-seeded EvoShield Canes (6-1) in the semifinals. Danish allowed one earned run in the bottom of the first to the Canes, but then settled in nicely.
"I didn't know I was going to go seven ... but the adrenaline was kicking and I had thrown three straight days, this being my fourth, but I was happy to get the ball and given the chance to get us to the championship," he said. "I was happy I threw well."
Colby Brown was 3-for-3 with a triple and an RBI and Thomas Lopez slugged a solo home run to lead the Juice at the plate.
2013 righty Connor Jones, a Virginia recruit, capped a nice World Championship by pitching five two-hit innings with six strikeouts for the Canes in the semifinal. He pitched 10 innings of five-hit ball with nine strikeouts and no walks at the event.
Extraordinary pitching efforts paved East Cobb's road into the semifinals. ECB pitchers allowed only two runs in three pool-play games, and then only three more in first and second round and quarterfinal round playoff wins.
Demeritte threw the first six innings in Cobb's 6-1 quarterfinal victory over No. 26-seeded Palm Beach County PAL Monday morning, scattering three hits and striking out 10. PAL's run was unearned.
The Juice went 3-0 in pool-play and outscored their three opponents 16-4 to earn the No. 4 seed. They totaled 16 runs in playoff wins over the Midland Redskins and Houston Heat, then outlasted 28th-seeded Team Georgia (TGBA), 2-0, in a quarterfinal win Monday morning. 2014right-hander Drew Carlton threw a complete game two-hitter, striking out nine.
No team at the tournament got more consistent pitching efforts from start to finish than the Canes. They outscored their three pool-play foes 21-0, and kept the scoreless streak alive with an 8-0 win over the No. 32 Chicago Scouts Association in the first round of the playoffs.
After beating the Diamond Devils, 9-3, in the playoffs' second round, 2013 left-hander Jeff Shumake allowed just one hit and struck out 12 working the final six innings of a 3-0 win over No. 8 Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler in the quarterfinals.
South Florida Elite Squad earned the playoffs' No. 6 seed by outscoring its pool-play opponents 22-8, then posted three straight shutouts in its first three playoff games. That included a five-inning four-hitter by left-hander Christian Peleaz in an 11-0 upset of the No. 3 Dirtbags in the quarterfinals and a combined no-hitter from three Elite pitchers in a 1-0 win over the Homeplate Chilidogs in the first round.
Monday's busy morning of seven championship bracket and 17 consolation games put a capper on a five-day run that began with Hurricane Sandy putting the fate of the entire event in jeopardy and wrapped-up under a cloudless blue sky but with a surprising chill floating on the stiff breeze.
Rain and wind Thursday and Friday forced PG officials to scrap the original schedule and revamp the playoff format, but every team ended up playing at least four games if they wished to do so. A total of 202 games were played between Thursday and Monday afternoons.
Praise for the event poured in from everyone associated with. Syracuse Sports Zone head coach Dickie Woodridge and several of his players were forced to pay for three or four extra nights in hotel rooms after Sandy forced the cancellation of thousands of flights in the Northeast and they were unable to return home.
Woodridge was unfazed, and offered a sentiment shared by many:
"This is fantastic that Perfect Game has an event like this," he said Sunday. "Our guys have gotten so much exposure and so much benefit out of playing four or five games here, it's well worth spending the extra money on the hotels that we're going to have to spend. It's all worth it."
2012 WWBA World Championship runner-up: Chet Lemon's Juice
2012 WWBA World Championship MVP: Wesley Jones, East Cobb Baseball
2012 WWBA World Championship MV-Pitcher: Tyler Danish, Chet Lemon's Juice
2012 WWBA World Championship third-place team: EvoShield Canes
2012 WWBA World Championship third-place team: South Florida Elite Squad