Also see: Mt. West 2013 claims 2011 Perfect Game/EvoShield National Underclass Championship
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The San Diego Show boasts a roster with no fewer than eight players who have already committed to NCAA Division I schools and includes a couple of elite prospects that could go early in the June 2012 MLB draft.
But every player on the Show is a top prospect, and it was two young men in the class of 2012 who have yet to commit to a college that shined the brightest under the hot Arizona sun this weekend.
Led by tournament Most Valuable Player Josh Estill and Most Valuable Pitcher Zack Wilkins, the Show won the 2011 Perfect Game/EvoShield National Championship (Upperclass) with a 3-1 victory over their southern California neighbors, the San Diego Gamers, in the championship game played mid-day Monday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
It is the second Perfect Game national title for the Show in the last two-plus months. They won the WWBA 18u National Championship in Marietta, Ga., in mid-July.
The Show finished the four-day tournament with a 6-0-1 record after recording a tie in its opener Friday night. Six straight wins followed, including four in the playoffs by a combined score of 25-5. Estill had a lot to do with that run production.
A stocky 5-foot-10, 185-pound catcher/third baseman who is a senior at Santa Fe Christian High School in Carlsbad, Calif., Estill had a tournament for the ages in the seven games he played in 100 degree-plus temperatures. He finished 14-for-20 at the plate (.700) with six doubles, one triple, seven RBI and eight runs scored. His on-base percentage was .727 and his slugging percentage 1.100.
“It’s fun to come out here and play in Arizona,” Estill said. “I saw the ball well, hit the ball well and I got picked up a lot by my teammates. We got some awesome pitching performances, gutsy pitching performances by this guy Zack (Wilkins), right here. We all banded together and we kind of pulled it through that last inning. We were tired and its 100 degrees. It’s hot!”
The heat didn’t seem to bother him, however.
“I like hitting the heat. It’s nice,” Estill said. “We could be playing in 72 degrees – San Diego heat – but this is fun. We got it done out here.”
Wilkins, a 6-2, 185-pound right-hander who is a senior at Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego, also had an impressive weekend, although the vast majority of it came Monday morning in the Show’s 4-3, eight inning win over 520 Elite 18u in one of the tournament’s semifinal games.
Wilkins pitched all eight innings of that game, giving up six hits and three earned runs while striking out four. In an earlier tournament appearance, he pitched two hitless innings and gave up no runs with two strikeouts.
“It was a great experience,” Wilkins said. “We played well and we played as a team and I just thought everyone bonded real well up here. We just played real well as a team.”
Like Estill, Wilkins said he was unfazed by four days of 100-plus temperatures.
“I’ll throw in any weather,” he said. “I just go out there and do my best and see what happens.”
He also wasn’t surprised San Diego Show was playing for the championship Monday morning.
“We’re one of the top teams in the nation and we always go out and play hard,” Wilkins said.
The Show’s head coach Brian Cain also wasn’t that surprised, even though he came to Monday’s table with less than a full deck.
The Show was playing without five regulars who were with them Friday, Saturday and Sunday because those players had to get back to school. Cain said he was concerned about a lack of depth on a long tournament’s final day, but those concerns turned out to be unfounded.
“Today we were missing a few guys, and I’m making no excuses, but I didn’t think we played our best baseball by far,” he said. “We left 11 or 12 guys on base this last game and we should have scored more. But everybody here is a very good baseball player. They’re all going somewhere at the D-I level or the four-year school level or even pro ball. I knew they would come and give me everything that they had today.”
The Show jumped to an early 2-0 lead when Kevin Newman smacked a two-run home in the top of the first inning. They added an insurance run in the top of the sixth on an RBI single from Estill.
Right-hander Michael Martin threw five solid innings to pick up the win, giving up five hits and one earned run while striking out five. PG All-American Corey Oswalt pitched the final two innings and allowed only one hit.
The Gamers managed six hits and one run against Martin and Oswalt, and a double from Austin Hensley the only extra-base hit. Right-hander Kyle Teachout and lefty Michael Kaufman struggled, combining to surrender 10 Show hits.
Cain was not shy all week about the reason he brought this team here for the PG/EvoShield National Championship (Upperclass). He wants to get a good portion of the roster ready for the PG WWBA World Championship over in Jupiter, Fla., Oct. 20-24.
“I knew we needed the work getting ready to go to Jupiter,” Cain said. “A lot of these guys hadn’t played multiple games in a short amount time since the middle of August. I knew we had to rev it up to get ready for Jupiter. You could see them dragging a little bit there today. They didn’t play their best baseball but they played well enough to win.”
The San Diego Show is working with the powerhouse Ohio Warhawks to put together one entry for the WWBA World Championship. Cain wants to make sure his half of the roster is ready.
“This was perfect as a stepping-stone to be competitive in Jupiter,” Cain said. “We’re looking forward to that trip. That’s something we’ve had in our plans for some time now, so we’re excited to go and compete there. That’s a great tournament with a lot of great players. It’s going to be challenging, but competition breeds the best players and that’s where we want to be – playing the most competitive baseball we can.”
San Diego Show, the tournament’s No. 8 seed, beat No. 5 seed 520 Elite 18u, 4-3 in eight innings in Monday morning’s semifinal round. The San Diego Gamers (6-1-0) also needed eight innings to beat the AZ Athletics, 2-1, in their semifinal game.
The Gamers’ right-hander Andrew Shultz, who earlier in the tournament was part of a one-hitter, threw all eight innings against the Athletics and gave up six hits and no earned runs while striking out five.
It was a great tournament for the two teams from the San Diego area (the Gamers are based in El Cajon).
“We enjoyed ourselves here. It’s nice to get away,” Cain said. “And like I said, anytime we travel more than two hours we like to come home with hardware, and we did. We’ve got our work cut out for us a month from now. It’s not going to be easy down there. Jupiter is going to be really tough (with) a lot of great players but we’re looking forward to it.”