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18u quarters set at East Memorial

Tournaments : : Story
Jeff Dahn        
Published: Sunday, May 26, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The playoff field for this year's Perfect Game WWBA 18u Memorial Day Classic wasn't seeded based on the runs scored for-against formula used for the PG WWBA and PG BCS Finals national championships that take over the month of July.

The playoff bracket at this event -- and at the concurrently running PG WWBA 16u Memorial Day Classic -- was set up so that, for instance, the champion of Pool A played the champion of Pool B, C played D and right on down the line (E vs. F, G vs. H, etc.).

That formula resulted in some pretty intriguing first-round pairings, perhaps none more so than Florida Burn 18u versus SCORE International 17u on Field 4 at the jetBlue Player Development Complex Sunday afternoon.

SCORE International 17u entered the playoffs 4-0 after outscoring its four pool-play opponents by a combined 27-5; Florida Burn 18u skipped past its four pool-play foes by a combined 26-5. They would have been the No. 6 and No. 8 seeds, respectively, if the tournament was traditionally seeded.

Perfect Game spoke with SCORE 17u head coach Sam Marsonek and Burn 18u head coach Mike Matthews before the two teams met in their first-round playoff game at jetBlue. Both managers expressed an unwavering admiration for their squads before the encounter, which ended with SCORE 17u escaping with a 1-0 victory.

Monday's quarterfinal round -- which will be played at 9 a.m. on four fields at the jetBlue complex, is a collection of some of the finest 18u and 17u teams from the state of Florida. Orlando Scorpions Baseball flexed its bulging muscles by placing three teams in the field of 16 -- Scorpions Prime (5-0), Scorpions 17u Purple (4-1) and Scorpions Underclass Purple (5-0) -- and having them all advance to the quarters.

Florida Burn Baseball also advance three teams into the WWBA 18u East Memorial Day playoffs -- Florida Burn Orange (5-0), Florida Burn Upperclass (5-0) and the Burn 18u (4-1) -- with two still alive on Monday. The Florida Burn Orange is largely the same group that won three Perfect Game championships in 2012 and was runner up at last year's PG WWBA 16u East Memorial Day Classic.

Matthews: "Nothing breeds success like more success. It's a great experience for myself being able to be involved with people like (Craig) Faulkner and (Mark) Guthrie who are running this organization. If you see one of the Burn teams doing well it makes you want to step it up and do well or even better than them."

Monday's other quarterfinalists are FTB Louisville Slugger (5-0) and South Florida Elite Squad Louisville Slugger (5-0). SCORE 17u doesn't feel out of place in a field filled with Scorpions, Burns, FTBs and Elite Squads.

Marsonek: "The kids are playing well; we have a lot of new kids in our organization so we're just getting used to playing with each other. They're all the right kind of kids playing really hard and encouraging each other, so it's been fun so far. They buy in right away and they've gotten to see some results the last four games; that definitely helps with the message."

SCORE 17u's top players include middle-infielder Michael Campoamar (a Furman commit), outfielder-right-hander Jacob McFadden (South Florida) and shortstop Kevin Merrell (South Florida), all 2014s. 2014 outfielder Tyler Tyson hit .455 (5-for-11) with a double, triple, home run and four RBI in SCORE's first five games and 2014 left-hander Matthew Meyer threw a complete game two-hitter with 10 strikeouts and no walks in the 1-0 first-round win over Burn 18u.

Marsonek: "God's been doing some really cool stuff throughout our team. ... This is a great event. Everything is organized really well and the competition is good, and, yeah, it's great."

Florida Burn 18u did not hit very well at this tournament. The Burn finished with a .193 batting average after five games, with 2014 catcher and Florida State commit Bret Maxwell and 2014 outfielder Sam Dannheisser each hitting .333 (a combined 9-for-27 with two doubles and four RBI).

The pitching was much better with 10 guys combining for a 1.06 ERA in 33 innings after allowing only 21 hits and striking out 42.

Matthews: "For the most part our teams have really only been together for about two or three weeks. They seem to get together pretty well, and as far as on the field is concerned they're doing the small things to help the team whether  it be trying to do the job of moving somebody over or playing good defense and communicating very well."

As a reminder, those comments were made before SCORE International 17u and the Florida Burn 18u settled things on the field. Monday's quarterfinal spotlight -- and quite possibly the semifinals and championship game, as well -- will focus on those brutes from the Orlando Scorpions, the other two teams from Florida Burn, as well as the guys from FTB, SF Elite Squad and, of course, SCORE.

But late Sunday afternoon, Florida Burn 18u were still seeing a glass that was half-full.

Matthews: "The team's playing really well right now; I can't complain (about) anything that they're doing. Everything has been so-far, so-good, and I think the kids are coming together and jelling together."

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