FORT MYERS – It took two wins over SF Elite Squad Freshman for Chain Stealth to survive pool play and hoist the first ever Perfect Game WWBA Freshman World Championship trophy.
The road to the title was not easy for Chain Stealth, who played seven games over a four-day span, sharing a pool with runner-up SF Elite Squad Freshman and having to defeat the St. Louis Gamers, the tournament’s overall top seed, in the semifinals.
Chain Stealth right-handed pitcher Chase Patrick came away with MVPitcher honors for the tournament after collecting a pair of wins, including a one-hit shutout against the St. Louis Gamers in the semifinals. Overall, Patrick pitched 10 innings without giving up a run, surrendering just four hits and collecting nine strikeouts.
Patrick summed up his emotions in one strong word: ecstatic.
Patrick said all he was trying to do was hit his spots and command the strike zone. He told himself not to throw as hard as he can, just get it over the plate.
“My curveball was working pretty good,” said Patrick. “My fastball was on and I was hitting the spots perfectly.”
Patrick credited a lot of his success to the guys playing in the field. “They’re unbelievable; the best team in the world.”
Patrick’s performance against the top-seeded St. Louis Gamers in the semifinals is one he won’t soon forget. The right-hander was a workhorse on the mound for Chain Stealth, blanking a team that had scored 26 runs in three games up to that point. Patrick went the distance to earn the big 1-0 win and advance to the title game played in jetBlue Stadium.
“Chase’s performance was amazing. As a pitcher, as a person, as a player he competes, competes, competes. He never gets rattled, never gives up,” said Chain Stealth head coach Derrick Simon. “In the biggest moment that’s who I want on the mound.”
Chain Stealth met SF Elite Squad Freshman in the championship game in the stadium that serves as home to the Boston Red Sox during Spring Training. It was the second time in the tournament the two have met, the first being a pool play in which Chain Stealth won, 7-4.
SF Elite Squad Freshman jumped out to an early 2-0 thanks to a double that rolled to the right field corner by MVP Alejandro Toral. Chain quickly erased the deficit, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second inning and adding two more the next inning to take a 4-2 lead.
SF Elite Squad Freshman quickly got one back, but that’s as close as they would get as Chain Stealth held them scoreless the last three innings to win, 5-3.
Chain Stealth finished their tournament run a perfect 7-0 record and outscored their opponents, 49-11.
“We knew what it took to win it. It’s unreal. I need to pinch myself,” said Simon. “The key thing is this is just a resilient group of guys.”
Simon credits his team’s successful tournament run to outstanding pitching, great defense, and the ability to play small ball late in the tournament in crucial situations. Many of the team’s games down the stretch were close contests.
Chain Stealth was faced with the tough test of playing against the tournament MVP, Alejandro Toral, not once, but twice.
Toral absolutely ripped the cover off the ball throughout the tournament, going 13-for-19 (.684 AVG) with five doubles, two triples, and 10 RBI. The left-handed batter with an already mature frame collected at least one base hit in all seven games, including a span of five straight multi-hit games. He was 3-for-5 in the two games against Chain Stealth.
“My dad works hard with me before every tournament,” said Toral when asked what he credits his successful tournament to. “(He) takes me places to get lessons and stuff and it pays off.”
New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra was once famously quoted saying, “Baseball is ninety-percent mental and the other half is physical.” Toral is lacking in neither department.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound lefty said that every time he steps into the batter’s box he tells himself “I’m better than him (the pitcher) and there’s no one that can get me out.”
Toral’s game plan is as simple as it gets: think opposite field and hit the ball hard. It goes without saying he was successful doing so.
Despite coming up three runs short of being named WWBA Freshman World Championship, Toral tabs the weekend a successful one for both himself and his team.
“It was a good experience, but when your team gets to the championship it’s a good experience for anyone,” Toral said.
Both teams enjoyed the tournament, highlighted by the opportunity to play on the same field Boston hero’s David Ortiz and Shane Victorino wander.
“It was awesome,” said Patrick. “I loved the fields and the stadium especially.”
“It’s a nice experience,” Toral said. “Hopefully other people will get this experience. It’ a very nice ballpark.”
Simon called it “the best experience you could ever ask for.”
Chain Stealth will forever be the first ever WWBA Freshman World Championship winners, but they won’t stop there. After a successful summer and fall with this group, look for them to make headlines in future events.
2013 WWBA Freshman World Championship runner-up: SF Elite Squad Freshman
2013 WWBA Freshman World Championship MVP: Alejandro Toral, SF Elite Squad Freshman
2013 WWBA Freshman World Championship MV-Pitcher: Chase Patrick, Chain Stealth