FORT MYERS, Fla. – In the second day of pool play at the 15u Super25 championship, Team Phenom was charged with facing an explosive Charleston Braves team to kick off the morning. Phenom got off to a rough start to the tournament, failing to score during the first day of play, but they came out strong on Thursday, led by talented left-hander Chazz Martinez.
Phenom came all the way from Chino Hills, California to compete in the Super25 championship, with their focus on getting better and seeing what east coast competition has to offer. “Phenom Nation is a college developmental program,” coach John Berumen said. “We’re not about winning, we’re about playing the game the right way, the hard way, doing everything right, hustling on and off the field, not assuming anything, charging everything, just hard-nosed baseball.”
After failing to score a run in the first two games of the tournament, Phenom had a tough task ahead of them on Thursday in the Charleston Braves. The Braves scored 19 runs during the first day of the tournament, but they could not get a handle on Phenom left-hander Chazz Martinez, who is a class of 2018 graduate while most of the competition is either class of 2017 or 2016.
“Chazz is wise beyond his years, age is just a number for him,” Berumen said. “As a lefty and incoming freshman at Corona Del Mar, he’s very special. His mechanics are phenomenal, he’s a bulldog on the bump, pitches to contact, will challenge any batter, and he has great baseball savvy, he really knows how to play the game.”
Martinez was ready for the challenge of facing the Braves. He pitched a complete game, throwing 103 pitches and striking out eight over seven innings. He gave up just one run and two hits overall. Berumen explained, “Chazz wanted it, he asked for the rock, he deserved it, and he came up gloriously for us today.”
Martinez impressed with both his fastball and secondary offerings, throwing his fastball up to 79 while showing an ability to throw his curveball both for strikes and as a put-away pitch. “I have a lot of confidence in my curveball, it slides in a lot, I like it a lot,” Martinez said. “When I’m ahead in the count, I like to go to my changeup.”
According to Berumen, Martinez is not just a great pitcher. “He’s also an all-around ballplayer, not just a pitcher, but he can also do it with the stick, getting clutch hits with savvy on the bases.”
Phenom generated six runs of support for Martinez, which was more than enough. “It was a collaborative effort at the plate, a team effort,” Berumen explained. “Everybody played their role, played small ball and did what they needed to do. We got on early with walks and worked the pitcher, being over aggressive but not too aggressive, working the counts and making the pitcher work. When we had the opposing pitcher where we wanted him, we were able to get clutch hits.”
Andrew Campa had an especially large impact for Phenom today, going 3-3 with a RBI and two runs scored. Blake Hebert added a big two-run double, going 1-2 with two walks.
The offense continued to excel on the second game of the day, as Phenom scored seven runs in a 7-7 tie with the Iowa Sluggers.
Team Phenom traveled a long way to come all the way to Fort Myers for the 15u Super25 national championship, and according to coach Berumen, it has been an unforgettable trip. “It’s been an experience to remember, these young men are making a lifetime memory that they will never be able to forget. This is our first east coast trip and it definitely won’t be our last. There is definitely some great talent here at the Super25 National Championship, good all-around ballplayers and teams. It’s refreshing for us to play some teams away from southern California being able to see some good east coast ballplayers. We’re loving the experience, enjoying every moment of it, and we’re looking to finish strong.”
Berumen, Martinez and the rest of the Phenom will continue to try and show that their first day of the tournament was a fluke and that they are a squad other teams should be worried about playing. Regardless of how the rest of the tournament pans out for them, they have already proven themselves a worthy adversary of any opponent with their performance on Thursday.