FORT MYERS, Fla. – Saturday’s slate of games concluded with an impressive showing by Ostingers Baseball Academy 17u, which improved to 3-0 and secured a playoff spot in the WWBA 18u Labor Day Classic. The 8-0 win over Palm Beach Travel Baseball sent a message loud and clear to those teams who may draw Ostingers in the playoff rounds – they’re dangerous.
Ostingers Baseball Academy 17u showed off a little bit of everything in their five-inning run rule win Saturday afternoon as three pitchers combined to toss the shutout behind the support of a fundamentally sound defense and an offense that provided plenty of run support while collecting a dozen base hits.
“We got a few runs in the first three innings that kind of set the tone,” said head coach Jim Osting. “Conor Grady definitely got the job done as far as getting out of a couple jams in his first couple of innings and [Jonathan] Baughman came in and threw the ball really well. We hit the ball hard today, so that’s a good sign early in the fall.”
In fact, the team’s 12 hits in the win over Palm Beach travel Baseball was more than they had totaled in their first two games combined, led by Alex Kachler, who is 5-for-8 (.625 avg.), and Austin James, who is 4-for-9 (.444 avg.) The team has outscored its opponents 13-2 through the first three pool play games.
“We haven’t given up many runs, so that’s a positive,” Osting said. “Now we just gotta come out tomorrow afternoon and be ready to rock n’ roll for the real deal.”
While the hitting was outstanding Saturday afternoon, it’s been the pitching that has carried Ostingers Baseball to an undefeated pool play start. Osting’s club has yet to give up an earned run through 19 innings of work, while giving up just eight hits and collecting 25 strikeouts.
“It starts with the mound,” said Osting, a former Major League pitcher. “We’re throwing a lot of strikes and we’re making routine plays. When you can throw strikes and make the routine plays and score a couple runs, you’ve got a good chance.”
“When we practice as a unit we really concentrate on doing the small things of making the routine plays and throwing strikes,” Osting continued. “I think that’s what’s getting us to the position we’re in and, when we’re on offense, if we can put pressure on the defense it’s helped us out a lot.”
A key ingredient to the team’s success has been the performance of shortstop Austin James, who was also a member of the USA Baseball 17u National Team Development Program this summer.
“He’s a great kid, a great competitor, and he has grown up with Ostingers,” said Osting. “I’m happy to see all the accolades that have come his way. Committing to FIU (Florida International University) was big and I think a weight lifted off his shoulders. He’s physically and mentally maturing, which is gonna hopefully help him out down the road.”
James is just one example of the great ballplayers produced by Ostingers Baseball Academy through the program’s young history.
“We have about 95-percent of our kids go on to play college baseball,” Osting said. “My pride is, whatever level they go on to play at, they aren’t sitting behind someone for the first three years, they go and play right off the bat.”
The travel program, based out of Lithia, Fla., is just five years young, but that hasn’t stopped Osting and his fellow instructors from putting together some very successful teams that constantly pose a threat to those they face at Perfect Game tournaments. Osting believes his players not only play the game at a very high level, but also go about doing so in a professional manner.
“I take a lot of pride in that we go about it the right way – we hustle on and off the field, we wear our uniforms the right way, we’re a little bit more old school when it comes to that,” said Osting.
A fourth round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 1995, Osting has been around a lot of clubs on all sorts of levels, so for him to say this team in particular has excellent camaraderie shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“I think every single guy on the team pulls for every other guy on the team,” Osting. “It’s a close-knit group of kids. It’s good to see that off the baseball field they’re good kids.”
Camaraderie, combined with talent, have typically been proven to bring plenty of success to a club, whether that be a team like the 2013 Boston Red Sox, who quickly gained recognition for all growing beards throughout the season, or any successful travel ball program playing in a Perfect Game tournament.
Osting surely is one who recognizes what it takes to build a winning travel baseball program, and him and his players are here to take home the WWBA 18u Labor Day Classic.