FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Kentucky Baseball Club-Boggs was declared the champion of the 2013 PG WWBA 2017 Grads or 14u National Championship Thursday afternoon after proving that taking care of business in a long, rain-delayed and frequently interrupted pool-play schedule can sometimes pay dividends in the end.
KBC-Boggs used terrific pitching outings to win the only three pool-play games the constantly changing schedule allowed it to play and earned the No. 1 seed in the 11-team playoffs. After a third rain shower of the day on Thursday finally forced the cancellation of the tournament with a final four in place, KBC-Boggs was declared the national champion based on having the highest seeding among the four remaining teams.
Kentucky Baseball Club-Boggs (4-0-0) out of Lexington, Ky., was scheduled to play the No. 5 Louisiana Tigers (5-0-1) out of Baton Rouge in one of the semifinals Thursday evening before the rain hit and action was stopped. No. 10 Dulins Dodgers (5-0-1) from Cordova, Tenn., and No. 6 Gladiator Baseball (6-0) out of Beaumont, Texas, were scheduled to meet in the other semifinal that never got started.
Based on seeding, the Louisiana Tigers were named the national runner-up and Dulins Dodgers and Gladiator Baseball shared third-place.
KBC-Boggs interim head coach Chuck Crawford would have loved to settle things on the field, but also felt the championship spoke volumes about his young prospects.
"It tells me that they're resilient and that we've got kids that compete, and no matter how much they might get down they never think they're out of the baseball game," he said shortly after the Kentucky Baseball Club-Boggs was declared the WWBA 14u National Champion.
"What we try to do when we're coaching kids is just like life -- life might kick you in the teeth a couple of times but you've got to get back up on your feet and get the job done. Our kids competed and they competed hard, and they never ever, ever gave up."
Any one of the four finalists could have been considered a favorite to capture the crown once they reached the semifinals. None had lost a pool-play game and any one of them would have been a worthy champion.
In the quarterfinals alone, No. 10 Dulins Dodgers knocked off No. 2 Fireline Bail Bonds (4-1) from Hialeah, Fla., 2-0; No. 6 Gladiator Baseball eliminated No. 3 St. Louis (Mo.) Gamers Blue (4-1), 3-1; and No. 5 Louisiana Tigers knocked out No. 4 CFBL Mizuno Elite 2017 (3-1) out of Orlando, Fla., 6-2.
It was a good showing from everyone involved considering the adversity all 66 teams at the tournament had to endure while the rain continued to fall in record-breaking amounts.
"People say that the younger generation is a lost generation -- I tend to disagree," KBC's Crawford said, speaking of all the young teenagers who were at this tournament the past six days. "You talk to anyone of these kids and at 14 years of age their head is on straight, they know what their priorities are and they're hard workers; that to me is just an uplifting thing."
A Most Valuable Player and Most Valuable Pitcher will be named when the All-Tournament Team is released sometime next week.
The 14u PG BCS Finals and 15u PG BCS Finals begin here in southwest Florida on Florida. Everyone is hoping they can be much drier events than the 16u PG BCS Finals and this PG WWBA 14u National Championship whose conclusions were cancelled by rain Wednesday and Thursday.
14u WWBA National Championship runner-up: Louisiana Tigers
14u WWBA National Championship co-third place finish: Dulins Dodgers
14u WWBA National Championship co-third place finish: Gladiator Baseball