EMERSON, Ga. – The Perfect Game/East Cobb Invitational Tournament came to an end with the conclusion of the 14u age group. Both the 6-4-3 DP Tigers 14u and the Upstate Mavericks went 2-1 in pool play and came into the championship game with 5-1 records, but the road to the final game for the two teams was anything but similar.
The Upstate Mavericks, after losing their final pool play game 2-1, reeled off three convincing wins in bracket play. In their three games prior to the championship, they outscored their opponents 28-2, and they looked primed to come away with the title.
The 6-4-3 DP Tigers 14u had a much tougher road to the finals. After winning two close ballgames, they lost their final pool play game 9-2. Even with the loss, they earned a spot in the bracket play. In bracket play, they won three games by a combined five runs against the likes of Titans Baseball, Gulf Coast Elite, and their fellow 6-4-3 team, the 6-4-3 DP Jaguars 14u.
“First off, the kids played phenomenal all the way through,” said 6-4-3 head coach Matt Hightower. “We had a tremendous road to get here going through quality teams such as the Homeplate organization. Central Florida [Gators] are always good year in and year out.”
“The West Hills [Show] team out of Pennsylvania was tremendous as they put it on us in pool play. But, we were able to battle back, come back out the next day after a rough game against them, and go through some very talented teams.”
The competitive schedule that the Tigers played helped them feel confident heading into the final. Although they had already had many pressure moments where it seemed reasonable that they could have been knocked out of the tournament, the team continued to fight. The fact that they had even made it to the championship game, after such a tough schedule, already sat great in Hightower’s mind.
“The road that we had already been on to get here was hard enough, so my approach for the kids was ‘guys honestly, just have fun,” he commented. “We’ve already made it this far. No one can really challenge the road that we went on. So, we are here, and lets make the best of it.’”
After a scoreless first inning for both teams, 6-4-3 erupted for eight runs in the second inning. A variety of hits, walks, and errors did the Mavericks in during the inning. The big blow came when Nolan Tressler laced a triple down the right field line with the bases loaded, scoring all three runners.
“We had Nolan Tressler come through with a big hit in a big moment that really cleared [the game] up,” Hightower explained. “He’s someone that actually struggled throughout the tournament, and for him to come through in that moment was huge for us.”
Once the dust settled, 6-4-3 ran away with a 10-0 victory. Although the score was lopsided, it took nothing away from the Upstate Mavericks and the tremendous tournament they had. On the other hand, this title for 6-4-3 was as culmination of all the adversity they had to overcome to get here. This title was truly a team effort, and Hightower raved about his team’s performance and how they gelled as a group.
“It means a lot [to win] because these kids from start to finish have been together for so long. It’s a testament to the chemistry they have and how they play for each other. And, that’s really what it takes for these guys. They’ve been doing it for so long.”
“A lot of people think sometimes it’s about talent or some kind of physical nature, but above all right now, it’s truly how they fight and battle for each other. That’s probably the biggest quality of this group.”
To make it to the championship game, a team needs more than just talent. They need that unexplainable bond that is usually the final piece to the puzzle for a team to make it over the hump. That bond starts with putting the team first. Some teams never find that piece. Other teams, like 6-4-3, have had it for a while. Davis Sharpe, the MV-Pitcher of the tournament and a 6-4-3 player, echoed the words of his coach in talking about the team’s comradery.
“It’s all about the team. Our team worked hard. We hit well in the championship. We pitched well all the way through. We had a tough road, and it’s all about the team. We just did great.”
Sharpe was excellent on the mound all weekend. In his two appearances, he allowed only one run in eight innings of work, while striking out ten batters.
Although his Mavericks team finished runner-up, Jamison Patterson took home MVP honors for the tournament. Patterson was the leader of the team offensively all weekend. He finished hitting .476 (10-21) with six doubles and an impressive 11 RBI in 7 games. He even picked up two wins on the mound in six innings of work.
“Pitching wise, my curveball was on,” said Patterson. “I could throw it 3-2 count; whenever I wanted to for a strike. Overall hitting, I think I did a pretty good job of hitting the ball to all fields.”
As 6-4-3 left LakePoint as champions, everyone is reminded that a scrappy team who believes in their teammates and believes in their style of play, eventually will find their way to the top. For the 6-4-3 DP Tigers 14u, being on top is exactly where they want to be.
2014 14u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational runner-up: Upstate Mavericks
2014 14u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational MVP: Jamison Patterson
2014 14u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational MV-Pitcher: Davis Sharpe