Nearly 27 percent of the 124 teams scheduled to play at this week’s Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational will be enjoying a decided home-field advantage.
That’s because the mighty East Cobb Baseball organization has entered 33 teams into the three tournaments – the 2nd annual 17u/18u PG-East Cobb Invitational, 16u PG-East Cobb Invitational and 14u/15u PG-East Cobb Invitational – and the games will be played primarily at the East Cobb Baseball Complex in Marietta, Ga.
The three tournaments run concurrently Thursday through Sunday (June 9-12) and games will also be played at 11 other venues in the Marietta area. Forty-four teams have entered the 17u/18u tournament, 32 are in the 16u field and 48 will compete for the 14u/15u PG-EC Invitational championship.
Marucci Broncos (17u/18u), Marucci Elite (16u) and Florida Flash 14u (14u/15u) won last year’s inaugural tournament championships. Florida Flash, an organization run by ex-Major League pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, shocked tournament favorite East Cobb Astros 14u in the semifinals then beat Palmetto Elite in the championship game to wrap-up a perfect 6-0 tournament.
“That’s usually what our kids are about,” Gordon told Perfect Game at the WWBA Memorial Day Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., late last month. “As long as the competition is on the field we’re going to go out there and play together and be able to compete with the best kids at this age group. I think we tend to have a pretty good time and I think we can hold our own.”
East Cobb Astros 16u Gray, East Cobb Astros 16u Orange and East Cobb Braves 17u are three of the 16 ECB entrants in the 44-team 17u/18u event, and all three could contend for the championship. EC Braves 17u features nine players who have already committed to NCAA Division I schools, including Oxford, Ala., first baseman/right-hander Tucker Simpson (Georgia Tech), ranked the No. 1 top prospect in Alabama (No. 38 nationally) by Perfect Game in the class of 2012.
Marucci Elite, Arlington A’s, Excel Blue Wave, Team Alabama, Homeplate Chilidogs, Upstate Mavericks 18u and 17u, and St. Louis Pirates are just a sampling of the other heavyweights in the field.
Eight East Cobb squads are in the 32-team 16u PG-EC Invitational, including East Cobb Astros 15u. Marucci Elite 16u returns to defend the title it won last year.
There are nine more East Cobb teams in the 48-team 14u/15u tournament, with East Cobb Astros 14u probably the best of the bunch.
Play begins in all three tournaments at 9 a.m. all four days, with the three championship games scheduled for Sunday afternoon (June 12) at the East Cobb Complex.
Beginning just a day after the conclusion of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the four-day event provides scouts with an early springboard into the 2012 scouting season. It also provides a nice lead-in to the 2011 PG Junior National Showcase and PG National Showcase, scheduled to run consecutively June 14-19 in Fort Myers.
Flash Gordon plans to bring his best players to the invitational, and he expects everyone else will, too.
“The good thing is, you have so many teams competing you want to make sure you bring the best talent you’ve got,” he said, “and as long as you do that I think you’ve got a chance at having a pretty decent tournament. I think (Perfect Game does) a wonderful job of getting the kids into the right places to be seen. I think they do a wonderful job of getting everybody out to support these kids and what they’re trying to do.”
Perfect Game is also holding the first PG Desert Classic at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in the Scottsdale, Ariz., area this weekend (June 10-12). There will be separate 14u, 16u and 18u Desert Classic events.