FORT MYERS, Fla. – The East Cobb Astros cemented their place in the Perfect Game history books Thursday when they won the championship at the PG 15u BCS Finals. This championship comes less than two weeks after they also won the PG WWBA 15u National Championship.
The Astros, strong from the top of their order to the end of their bench, bounced the Orlando Scorpions 2014, 6-2, in the championship game of the 15u BCS Finals at (finally) sun-drenched and even breezy City of Palms Park.
This BCS Finals championship was captured just 13 days after the No. 2 nationally ranked Astros captured the WWBA 15u National Championship on July 1 at their home-base in Marietta, Ga. They beat the No. 1-ranked Dulins Dodgers in that tournament’s championship game.
It is the first time in the six years the two tournaments have been held that the same team won both Perfect Game 15u national championships – one with wood bats (WWBA) and the other with metal bats (BCS Finals).
“This is real big,” Astros head coach Dennis Jordan said. “It’s our expectation to come down here and to play well – we expect that out of ourselves – but when you can come down and play against the competition that we’ve played against in the last three weeks, when you talk about the quality of the other teams that we’ve played, it speaks for itself.
“This is a high-quality tournament and I can’t give our guys any more credit than the way they’ve come out and played just as hard as they can play.”
The win over the Scorpions 2014 capped a perfect 10-0 tournament for the top-seeded Astros and, even more impressively, was this team’s 55th win this season without a loss. They cruised through pool-play the first five days of the rain-soaked tournament with a 6-0 record while outscoring those six opponents, 73-5.
The Astros had two hard-fought 6-5 wins in the first round and quarterfinal round of the playoffs, and then escaped their nemesis Dulins Dodgers, 3-1, in the semifinals.
At the conclusion of the 15u BCS Finals, Astros first baseman Kel Johnson was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and right-hander Michael Gettys was named the Most Valuable Pitcher.
Johnson, a 6-3, 200-pound home-schooled student out of Palmetto, Ga., in the class of 2014, was 12-for-28 (.429) with five doubles, three home runs, 13 RBI and 11 runs scored in the Astros 10 games.
“This has been fabulous,” Johnson said. “I came down here with some teammates, and we were just playing, having fun, focusing on every at-bat and making the most of it. We were coming off the win in the WWBA and we came down here and wanted to do our best and play hard every day.”
Gettys, a 6-foot, 175-pounder out of Gainesville, Ga., pitched 12 innings over three games and gave up eight hits and two earned runs (1.17 ERA) while striking out 16. He pitched seven innings of four-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in the championship game.
“I’ve got to give Michael Gettys a lot of credit. This is only about his third week of pitching, and he really battled up for us today," Jordan said. "We don’t have a large roster … but they love each other and they play hard together.”
Gettys’ pitching effort in the title game was supported by the bats of Mitchell Webb and Wade Bailey. Webb was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored and Bailey was 2-for-3 with a run driven in and a run scored.
The Astros’ day started with a dramatic comeback from a four-run, seventh inning deficit against Team Elite 15u Black at Terry Park.
The rally started with consecutive doubles from Randolph Gassaway, Kyler Neal and Skyler Weber which brought the Astros within 4-3. Two outs later, Neal and Weber were still standing on third and second, respectively.
Diminutive shortstop Cornell Nixon, batting at the top of the order, stepped in and slashed a two-out, two-run, walk-off single down the right-field line that sent Neal and Weber racing home with the tying and winning runs.
That was followed by the 3-1 win over the Dulins Dodgers, a game in which right-hander Reed Scott pitched a seven-inning five-hitter with eight strikeouts.
“It’s real hard to come out and play three games in a day in the heat and the humidity the way they did, but our kids just battle and they continue to battle and there’s no quit in them,” Jordan said.
It was a hard climb to the semifinals for the Orlando Scorpions 2014 squad, which was 1-2 after its first three-game set of pool-play games. They rallied to go 2-0-1 in the second set and qualified for the playoffs, blanked East Cobb Team Rawlings, 3-0, in Wednesday’s first round, and then whipped the Georgia Academy TPX Dodgers, 9-1, in the quarters.
The playoffs’ No. 14 seed, they advanced to the championship game by beating the 15th-seeded East Cobb Longhorns in the semifinals, 8-0 in five innings.
Right-hander Cody Spivey pitched four innings of three-hit ball with two strikeouts in the Scorpions’ semifinal win.
All eyes will be on the Astros the rest of the summer as they try to build on their 55-game winning streak.
The streak, accomplished against many of the nation’s best 15u teams at Perfect Game tournaments is almost unfathomable. It also can weigh heavy on a 15-year-old’s shoulders, although that weight wasn’t noticeable in the way the Astros played at the 15u BCS Finals.
“It’s a little burden to carry, it really is,” Jordan said after a come-from-behind victory in Thursday morning’s quarterfinals, which ran the Astros’ record to 53-0. “But I have to give the guys credit – it’s a situation where they just keep battling, and there’s no quit in them. They’re warriors.”