FORT MYERS, Fla. – The SC Shockwave 16u team came into Wednesday’s first round of the Perfect Game 16u BCS Finals playoffs riding its own kind of wave after earning the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
SC Shockwave used outstanding pitching performances to hold six pool-play opponents to a combined 10 runs and were getting set to face the 6-4-3 DP Cougars in a first-rounder, a team that had scored 48 runs in its 5-1 run through pool play.
Playing at the main stadium at Terry Park, the Shockwave fell behind the Cougars, 3-2, in the top of the sixth inning but rallied for four runs in the bottom of the frame. They held on for that 6-3 win and advanced into Wednesday afternoon’s quarterfinals.
Right-hander Jamie Callahan – a South Carolina commit – scattered seven hits over six innings and struck out six and righty Preston Lane pitched a perfect seventh to lead the way. First baseman Collin Steagall drove in two runs, one with a double to the gap in left-center in the decisive sixth inning.
Shockwave head coach Curtis Hudson saw the victory in the same light as he saw his team’s previous six.
“It was a good game, a well-played game, and I’ve been telling them all along it comes down to throwing and catching – whoever throws and catches the best,” Hudson said. “(The Cougars) had a tough inning there throwing and catching and we plugged the gap a few times and broke it open. We did a great job of showing some grit there at the end.”
The Shockwave have shown tremendous grit throughout the 16u BCS Finals, a tournament that kicked-off Saturday and concludes with semifinals and a championship game Thursday at City of Palms Park.
Hudson, speaking with a folksy Carolina accent, got a little philosophical when he talked about the Shockwave’s chances of advancing to the championship game.
“We might not be playing (Thursday) afternoon, but we came in with that expectation,” said Hudson, who has 25 years of experience as a college and high school baseball coach and is a high school teacher in Myrtle Beach, S.C. “If we don’t make it, it’s not a failure. I don’t look at it that way.
“I’ve had very high expectations of myself all my life,” he continued, “and I tell my kids every day in the classroom that I succeed every day but I’m not a success, and I fail every day but I’m not a failure – that will all be decided when I pass along and it won’t matter then one bit because I won’t be here anymore.”
SC Shockwave 16u – one of eight teams under the Shockwave Baseball (Summerville, S.C.) umbrella – came here with a 13-man roster and 11 of those players pitched at least an inning in the Shockwave’s first seven games.
“We’ve got (11) of them and seven of them are fresh” for the remainder of the tournament, Hudson said after Wednesday’s win.
Hudson used all 11 of those arms with great success in the six pool-play wins:
Right-handers Akeem Bostic, Avery Hart and Lane combined on a one-hitter with seven strikeouts in a 5-1 tournament-opening win over South Florida Elite Squad Red. Righties Callahan, Steagall and Jordan Gore came right back to combine on a two-hitter in a 5-1 win over the Tama Suns in the Shockwave’s second game.
Game three saw right-handers Hayden Haflin and Brody Gibson and lefty Stephen McKnight combine for a 10-strikeout six-hitter in a 5-3 win over the South Florida Stingers. That was followed by a seven inning complete game one-hitter from left-hander JD Waite in a 1-0 win over SWFL 16u Grey.
Gibson and right-hander Grande Fender combined on a four-hitter in the 11-3 win over SWFL 16u Grey, and Heflin threw a complete game four-hitter in the Shockwave’s sixth and final pool-play win, 9-2 over Homeplate Chilidogs 16u.
They outscored their first seven opponents, 42-13, meaning they gave up fewer than two runs per game. That was as impressive of a stat as you could find as the 16u BCS Finals moved into the round-of-eight Wednesday afternoon.
“We have a great group and we get after it hard,” Hudson said. “We don’t worry about winning and losing, we worry about playing the game. We don’t worry about who we’re playing – we say before every game it’s not who we’re playing, it’s what we’re playing, and we’re playing baseball.”
And enjoying life at the PG 16u BCS Finals.
“It’s been a great experience, we’ve grown up a little bit, and. wow, we’re 7-0,” Hudson concluded.