Jupiter, Fla. , October 26-30, 2006
MONDAY, OCTOBER 30?€?DAY FIVE
COMPILED BY ALLAN SIMPSON
The Reds Scout Team, a mixture of players from this year?€™s Midland Redskins and top prospects it recruited for the tournament, ran the table at the WWBA Fall Championship, winning eight straight games.
The Reds defeated the 2004 champion Houston Heat 3-0 in the final game of the 80-team tournament, played at Jupiter?€™s Roger Dean Stadium, as lefthander Andrew Lambo (Newbury Park, Calif.) and righthander Sam Runion (Asheville, N.C.) combined on a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts.
Though only four players on the Reds Scout Team were from Ohio , the team had a distinct Ohio connection as it was assembled by the Cincinnati-based Midland Redskins, one of the top youth baseball programs in the country, and it wore Cincinnati Reds uniforms.
The Reds threw five shutouts in the tournament, though the strength of the team was their core of position prospects. Second baseman Ryan Dent (Palm Beach, Calif. ), shortstop Justin Jackson (Asheville, N.C. ) and outfielder Michael Burgess (Tampa ) are potential first-round picks in 2007, and first baseman Eric Hosmer (Cooper City, Fla.) is a projected first-rounder in 2008. The remaining regulars in their everyday lineup are also potential high-round picks.
Their pitching staff, which gave up only six runs in the tournament, was mostly spent by the championship game, causing the Reds to use Lambo, who was 7-for-17 with five RBIs in his previous seven games, all at first base or in the outfield. He was not scheduled to pitch in the event but gave the depleted Reds staff a major lift.
Lambo retired the first 10 hitters he faced, with a fastball that was clocked from 84-86 mph with an assortment of soft curveballs. Runion had given up four of the previous six runs the Reds had allowed in the tournament in a shaky outing against Team Connecticut on Saturday, but he threw two scoreless innings, with a fastball that topped out at 92 mph, against the Heat to nail down the championship game.
The Reds scored twice in the first inning on consecutive singles by Dent, Jackson and tournament MVP Jeff Schaus (Naples, Fla.), and a walk to Hosmer, the cleanup hitter, to force in a run and a sacrifice fly by Michael Burgess, and were never seriously threatened. They added another run in the third on doubles by Schaus and Hosmer.
The Reds allowed only one run in their four playoff games, with lefthander Chris Jones (Tampa) pitching three scoreless innings Sunday to save a 2-0 win over the Cangelosi (Ill.) Orioles, and working four more scoreless innings Monday in a 2-0 win over North Carolina ?€™s Dirtbags.
Schaus earned MVP honors by going 12-for-24 with four doubles and five RBIs. He had at least a hit in every game, including two each in the final two games.
East Cobb lefthander Josh Smoker (Sugar Valley, Ga.), a potential first-round pick in 2007, was selected the event?€™s Most Valuable Pitcher. He won two games for the Astros, including a key quarter-final playoff game Monday against California ?€™s ABD Bulldogs, and struck out 21 in nine innings.
Both Schaus and Smoker have verbally committed to Clemson.
Round of 16
ABD Bulldogs (5-0) 5, Florida Magic (3-2) 1
East Cobb Astros (5-0) 6, Hammertime Performance (3-1-1) 1
Houston Heat (4-1) 3, Midland Scout Team (3-1-1) 0
South Florida Bandits (3-0-2) 3, Winning Inning (3-2) 2
East Cobb Astros (6-0) 5, ABD Bulldogs (5-1) 2
Houston Heat (5-1) 3, South Florida Bandits (3-1-2) 0
Houston Heat 5, East Cobb Astros 3
Central Florida Renegades (4-1) 8, St. Louis Pirates (3-2) 2
Dirtbags (5-0) 8, Diamond Devils (4-1) 0
PG Crosschecker (5-0) 1, Sandlot/Midwest Scout Team (3-2) 0
Reds Scout Team (5-0) 2, Cangelosi Orioles (3-1-1) 0
Dirtbags (6-0) 5, Central Florida Renegades (4-2) 1
Reds Scouts Team (6-0) 4, PG Crosschecker (5-1) 1
Reds Scout Team (7-0) 2, Dirtbags (6-1) 0
Reds Scout Team 3, Houston Heat 0
Not including The Reds Scout Team?€™s 3-0 win over the Houston Heat in the championship game, here?€™s how the remaining six playoff games turned out Monday:
--In a showdown of the two teams that won the last three WWBA championships, the 2004 champion Houston Heat prevailed, 5-3, over the East Cobb Astros, who won in 2003 and shared the championship a year ago. The once-beaten Heat jumped on Astros starter Taylor Wood (Suwanee, Ga.) for four runs in 2 2/3 innings, with the big blow a two-run homer in the top of third by shortstop Kevin Ahrens (Houston ), which put the Heat up 4-0. They hung on behind the combined four-hit pitching of righthander Jerad Stevens (The Woodlands, Texas ) and lefthander Daniel Nottebart (Houston ). Ahrens, the team?€™s top prospect, went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
The Astros had allowed only seven runs in their previous six games, but had an uncharacteristic off-game against the Heat, allowing five runs on eight hits. The Astros had set up their pitching lineup to have plenty of arms available for Monday. But lefthander Nathan Vineyard (Emerson, Ga.) unexpectedly left the team during the tournament, leaving the Astros without one of their best starting pitchers.
--Top shortstop prospect Justin Jackson (Asheville, N.C. ) singled twice and scored both times as the Reds Scout Team won 2-0 over the Dirtbags, a team composed primarily of fellow North Carolina players. Both teams entered the game with 6-0 records. The Reds scored in the first when Jackson singled, outfielder Jeff Schaus (Naples, Fla.) doubled and first baseman Eric Hosmer (Cooper City, Fla.) delivered a sacrifice fly. Jackson singled again to lead off the sixth and scored on a Schaus base hit. Righthander Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich. ), who worked the first three innings, and lefthander Chris Jones (Tampa ) stopped the Dirtbags on three hits.
The loss by the Dirtbags marked the second straight year that the team has finished in third place. The Dirtbags, in fact, have made a habit of finishing third at Perfect Game sponsored events over the last two years as they finished third at the WWBA Underclassmen fall championship in both 2005 and 2006, and third at the 16-and-under WWBA summer championship. They finished second at this year?€™s WWBA 17-and-under summer championship.
Every one of the Dirtbag seniors, with the exception of Zach Woodley (Rocky Mount, N.C.), who was clocked from 87-89 mph, has verbally committed to a scholarship to an NCAA Division I school. The team?€™s best prospect, lefthanded-hitting shortstop Garrison Lassiter (High Point, N.C.), is only a high school junior.
--In a showdown of unbeaten teams, East Cobb took advantage of eight ABD walks, including four in the first inning by Bulldogs lefthander Forrest Moore (Baton Rouge, La.), to win 5-2 and advance to the semi-finals. Moore, who flew in from Louisiana Sunday night to start the game for ABD, struck out eight in three innings, but was undone by his own wildness in the first and a two-run triple by Astros outfielder Hunter Morris (Huntsville, Ala.) in the third. East Cobb ace lefthander Josh Smoker (Sugar Valley, Ga.) worked the first five innings for the win, striking out 13 with a fastball that topped at 91 mph. Righthander Gary Gilheeney (Johnston, R.I.) finished up for East Cobb, surviving an attempted steal of home in the bottom of the sixth by Brett Krill (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), who tripled with one out, that would have tied the game 3-3. The Astros put the game out of reach with two runs in the top of the seventh.
--Despite getting only two hits, the Dirtbags won their sixth straight game with ease as they scored five times in the third inning to defeat the Central Florida Renegades 5-1. Righthander Trent Rothlin (Hickory, N.C.) went the distance for the Dirtbags, allowing three hits and a walk, while striking out five.
--The Reds Scout Team got six strong innings out of sophomore righthander Brent Zimmerman (Cooper City, Fla.), normally an infielder, as they defeated PG Crosschecker 4-1 in a battle of unbeaten teams. Zimmerman?€™s fastball ranged only from 82-85 mph, but he limited Crosschecker to two hits while striking out three.
--The Houston Heat got a combined two-hitter from three pitchers in eliminating the South Florida Bandits. Lefthander Sam Stafford (Spring, Texas ) worked the first three innings, allowing both Bandits hits but striking out seven. Lefthander Bobby Stone (Montgomery, Texas ) and righthander Austin Dicharry (Spring, Texas ) worked two innings apiece to finish up. The trio fanned 12 altogether. Shortstop Kevin Ahrens (Houston) provided all the offense the Heat needed with a second-inning triple, scoring on a single by Richard Teague (Katy, Texas).