Three teams from Texas have punched their tickets for late July trips to Phoenix and Fort Myers, Fla., courtesy of Perfect Game Super25 regional championships.
The three teams, all based in Houston, emerged as age-group champions at the PG Super25 Texas State Regional tournament held early this month at Premier Baseball of Texas in Tomball, Tex. By virtue of winning those titles, the three teams became the first in the 17u, 16u and 15u age-groups to earn invitations to their respective PG Super25 National Championships.
Team Rawlings-Baker won the 10-team 17u championship and will play at the 25-team 17u PG Super25 National Championship July 23-27 in Glendale, Ariz.; Banditos Elite won the four-team 16u Texas State title and will play at the 16u PG Super25 National Championship July 30-Aug. 3; and Marucci Elite Houston claimed the title at the eight-team 15u event and will also be in Fort Myers July 30-Aug. 3 for the 15u Super25 National Championship.
“Anytime you can do anything with Perfect Game it’s a good thing, and it was a great run tournament,” Houston Banditos founder, director and head coach Ray DeLeon said last week. “We’re going to be a big supporter of (the PG Super25) and we believe in it. I don’t think anybody can argue about (Perfect Game’s) success and I think this just gives everyone another version of tournaments to get into.”
Hundreds of Qualifiers and Regional tournaments will held in 21 PG Super25 regions from coast to coast and Puerto Rico in the next eight months as teams in nine age-groups (9u through 17u) work to earn berths in their respective 25-team PG Super25 National Championship. The Texas champions crowned this month are the first three of 225 teams that will ultimately vie for a PG Super25 National Championship.
“I personally think it’s more for the new people to get into Perfect Game; it’s like a starting block,” DeLeon said. “They can work and see what kind of team they have, and if they can compete in these (PG Super25) tournaments and win and then they’ve got a chance to go play in the invitation-only tournaments. It gives everybody a chance to experience the hype; it gives everybody a chance to get a piece of the pie.”
Team Rawlings-Baker (4-1) topped Spring, Tex.-based WBA 17u (3-2) in the championship game to claim the 17u Texas State Regional title. Rawlings-Baker placed six players on the all-tournament team, including Graham Rodgers (2015, Spring, Tex.) and James Phillips (2015, Spring, Tex.) who made the honor squad as both hitters and pitchers.
The Banditos Elite (5-0) were crushingly dominant in winning the 16u Texas State Regional championship, outscoring its five opponents by a combined 52-1.
Ten Banditos made the all-tournament team, including four prospects that were members of the Banditos Black squad that won last summer’s 14u Perfect Game World Series: the 14u PG World Series Most Valuable Player Tyler Hicks (2016, Spring, Tex.); the 14u PG World Series and 14u PG BCS Finals MV Pitcher Landon Miner (2016, Tomball, Tex.); Jaxx Groshans (2016 Magnolia, Tex.); and Shane Daughety (2016, Spring, Tex.).
“It was primarily all of 14-year-olds and a few 15s; we didn’t have any 16-year-old kids there,” DeLeon said. “All we wanted to do was get them some reps and it was a great experience.”
Marucci Elite Houston also finished 5-0 en route to winning the PG Super25 15u Texas State Regional championship, but it was challenged every step of the way, winning its five games by a combined 38-17.
Marucci also placed 10 prospects on the all-tournament team – five hitters and five pitchers – including leading hitters Kyle Harper (2017, Houston) and Blake Spindle (2017, Houston), and top pitchers right-hander Robert Cook (2017, Houston) and left-hander Cole Taylor (2017, Houston).
The number of teams competing in these PG Super25 Regional tournaments – which are open events in the tournament series’ first year – is sure to grow as the calendar turns to 2014 and spring approaches.
“It’s going to catch on; people just have to give it a little bit of time,” DeLeon said. “Before you know it, four teams will be 20 teams and 20 teams will be 40 teams … so we’re excited about it. I love the idea, and we’re always going to play the best competition. No matter where it’s at, we’re going to find it and we’re going to play it and these Perfect Game events give you a chance to do that.
“What this Perfect Game Super25 does, it gives everybody a chance to experience Perfect Game,” he concluded. “Not everybody can go to Jupiter, not everybody can go to the big events, but these events are pretty wide open … and I think it is a great idea for (PG) to do this. We will definitely support it 100 percent.”