EMERSON, Ga. – The inaugural 17u/18u PG/EvoShield Classic came to an end Wednesday at Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint. Two 7-0 teams, Home Plate Maldonado and the East Cobb Astros 18u, played for the championship.
Both teams raced through pool play, each allowing only two runs in five games. The Astros had an amazing four shutouts in those games, while Home Plate had three. But, bracket play proved a little different for the two teams.
Home Plate had two comfortable wins: a 6-0 win Ultimate Baseball 18u and an 8-0 win over Team Alabama to advance to the finals. They finished the tournament with an impressive five shutouts in eight games. East Cobb had a tougher road to the finals. They used three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to edge out a 4-2 victory over the Georgia BlackCrackers in the quarterfinals. Then, they defeated the GBSA Blue Rays 6-5 on a walk-off single by Landon Faulkner in the bottom of the seventh inning. The win matched up the number one seed (the Astros) against the number two seed (Home Plate).
In the championship game, Home Plate jumped out to an early lead by scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. They continued to be in control as they headed into the top of the seventh inning leading 5-3, but the Astros had kept things interesting throughout the game. Then, Home Plate opened the game up by scoring four insurance runs in the seventh to pad their lead. They held on in the bottom of the frame to take the title 9-3.
Tyler Sellers was phenomenal on the mound for Home Plate. He pitched five strong innings to pick up the win. He allowed no earned runs and just three hits, while striking out three. Jeremiah Woods and Chad Green each pitched an inning of relief to secure the win. Tyler Burdette went 2-4 with a triple and two RBI to lead the offensive attack. The team finished with 12 total hits in what was a great display of all facets of the game.
“It’s really great,” Home Plate coach Esteban Maldonado said of winning the tournament. “The kids competed all week. They battled. I think we gave up probably five runs the whole tournament. The pitching was amazing, and the guys hit all week long. I was very proud of them.”
This was Home Plate Maldonado’s second Perfect Game tournament win this summer. They also took home title at the 17u WWBA National Championship Qualifier. The organization’s success this summer continued when two of their players were selected to play in the Perfect Game All-American Game in August. Cornelius Randolph and Tristin English have led this team all summer, and they will give this organization even more publicity once they make it to San Diego for the game.
“It’s an amazing experience,” Maldonado said of having two guys receive All-American honors. “We missed them at the end of the tournament, but I heard they are doing really well. They are playing right now, and they are getting ready for the All-American Game. They are really excited. I feel very proud. I’ve known both kids since they were really young teenagers, and it’s good to see the fruit of their labor to get to that game.”
Maldonado could not have been happier to coach Randolph, English, and the rest of the team this year.
“I enjoy coaching and mentoring them on and off the field,” Maldonado said. “I enjoy their work ethic when they go in and out. It’s really been a great summer with amazing kids. The organization backs us up all the way; Home Plate really supports us. It’s been very exciting.”
Home Plate pitcher Adam Goodman picked up MV-Pitcher honors for his stellar performance on the mound throughout the tournament. He pitched in two games and finished 2-0 in 10 innings of work. He also allowed only three hits and no earned runs, while striking out 13 and walking only one.
“It means a lot,” Goodman said of winning the award. “I wasn’t really expecting it, and it’s an honor to be named MV-Pitcher.”
“Adam Goodman is a warrior,” Maldonado said. “Every time he gets on the mound, we know he is going to take care of business. He is one of those guys that you just have to give him one or two runs, and that is enough for him to go the whole way. He’s been like that since he was a little kid, and he just keeps getting better and better.”
Kel Johnson from the Astros received the MVP award for the tournament. His numbers were outstanding with a .579 average (11-19) in his seven games. He also finished with eight RBI and seven runs scored. In the championship game, he went 2-3 with a home run and a double, as well as two RBI and a run scored.
Home Plate Maldonado finished 8-0 on the tournament, while the East Cobb Astros 18u finished at 7-1.
2014 17u/18u PG/EvoShield Classic runner-up: East Coast Astros 18
2014 17u/18u PG/EvoShield Classic MVP: Kel Johnson, East Coast Astros 18
2014 17u/18u PG/EvoShield Classic MV-Pitcher: Adam Goodman, HP Maldonado
14u/15u PG/EvoShield Classic
Very similar to the 17u/18u tournament, the 14u/15u PG/EvoShield Classic final featured the two top seeded teams. The 6-4-3 DP Cougars Montgomery squared off against the Chain Dirtdawgs.
6-4-3 went 5-0 in pool play with only one scare in their 5-4 victory over Home Plate-Boyd 15u. They allowed only 13 runs in those five games to earn the number two seed. Their semi-final matchup was against the Team ECB Select. 6-4-3 scored three runs in the first, four in the second, and three in the third to jump on Team ECB. They eventually prevailed 10-2 and advanced to the championship game.
The Chain Dirtdawgs also went 5-0 in pool play, and they allowed only eight total runs in those games to lock up the number one seed headed into the playoffs. Their semi-final matchup against the 6-4-3 DP Tigers was a very intense game. The Tigers scored two runs in the top of the first inning and one in the top of the fifth to lead 3-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. With their backs against the wall, Chain scored four runs in the frame and eventually took the game 6-3 to advance to the title game.
In the championship game, Chain scored one run in each of the first two innings to take a 2-0 lead. It seemed as if they were primed to win with their hot start. That was until the 6-4-3 offense heated up and their pitching started to shut down the Chain bats. 6-4-3 scored two in the third, two in the fifth, one in the sixth, and two in the seventh. Along with that, their pitching staff did not allow a run after the second inning. 6-4-3’s combination of hitting, pitching, and base running gave them a 7-2 victory and a tournament title.
“It’s just a good ending to a good season,” 6-4-3 head coach Nick Montgomery said. “I’m going to miss a bunch of these guys. They deserve it. They’ve worked hard throughout the whole year. Every time they get on the field it is special. They want to win, and they hate to lose. So, it’s good to end this way.”
Jack Ferguson battled back after a slow start and pitched all seven innings to pick up the win for 6-4-3. He allowed just five hits in the game, and he did not allow an earned run. Ferguson also was hot with the bat going 2-3 with three RBI to lead the team. Drew Waters also helped the team with his two hits. He also added an RBI and a run scored.
Skylar McPhee went 2-3 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored for 6-4-3. He also was awarded the MVP trophy for his stellar performance throughout the week. He finished the tournament with a .556 average (10-18) and added seven RBI and five runs scored. Throughout the entire tournament, he was the guy the team turned to.
“It was good,” Montgomery said of McPhee’s performance in the tournament. “He got hot early, and we rode him. Every big hit it seemed like he was up to bat and in every big situation. He’s been doing it all year, but in the last tournament like this it was good to have him in the lineup doing that.”
“I’m really blessed,” McPhee said of winning MVP. “It means everything to me.
This tournament title added another Perfect Game championship for the 6-4-3 organization. They have continued to find success in big tournaments, and they have had a lot of fun doing it. Montgomery pointed out how great this 6-4-3 organization is both in their accomplishments on the field and the relationships they have with each other.
“I think the best thing is that we are a family,” Montgomery said. “You look in our dugout; we had all three team’s (Cougars, Jaguars, and Tigers) coaches in the dugout. We had kids in the dugout and people throughout the whole program. We hope for the little kids [in the program] that they get to go through this one day as well. And, for the coaches supporting us, it shows that we are a family. It’s special.”
The MV-Pitcher award was given to Drake Murray from 6-4-3. In the team’s one-run victory over Home Plate, Murray threw a complete game and picked up the win. He allowed no earned runs and struck out an impressive ten batters, while walking none.
“It’s an honor,” Murray said of winning MV-Pitcher. “I am very blessed.
“I did pretty well at working ahead, and I just made sure I got outs. When my teammates got into trouble I just helped them out and picked them back up.”
“I love him,” Montgomery said. “He’s a strike-thrower. He gets it. It’s not all about the gun. It’s about throwing strikes and letting the defense work. He had all three of his pitches rolling, and he just let his defense work. It’s just fun to watch him pitch.”
As 6-4-3 concluded their season, they can rest nicely knowing they went out with a win and a title. Being able to call themselves champions at the end gave them a nice cherry on top of a wonderful season.
“Like I said, it’s a really good feeling,” Montgomery said. “I love it for the kids. They deserve it. Like I said, we work hard. We ride them all season and practice all the time. When you put the work in, it’s great to see them rewarded like this.”
The 6-4-3 DP Cougars Montgomery finished with a 7-0 record, while the Chain Dirtdawgs finished at 6-1.
2014 14u/15u PG/EvoShield Classic champions: 6-4-3 DP Cougars Montgomery
2014 14u/15u PG/EvoShield Classic runner-up: Chain Dirtdawgs
2014 14u/15u PG/EvoShield Classic MVP: Skylar McPhee, 6-4-3 DP Cougars Montgomery
2014 14u/15u PG/EvoShield Classic MV-Pitcher: Drake Murray, 6-4-3 DP Cougars Montgomery