TEMPE, AZ-- The 2012 Cleats Sports Classic Invitational tournament came to a conclusion with two defending Arizona state champions meeting in the championship game at Packard Stadium, home of the Arizona State Sun Devils.
While the championship game featured two perennial powerhouses located in nearby Scottsdale, AZ the 23 team field featured talented high school teams from all over.
Below you will find PG's top prospect list with scouting reports, the all-tournament team (as selected by the tournament staff), a recap of some of the tournament's biggest moments including the National Game of the Week between Houston Christian (TX) and Arcadia (AZ) . But first, the playoff recap...
Left handed pitching is a rare commodity in the baseball world. Scottsdale, AZ seems to be the exception however. After Chaparral used two mid 80s LHPs (Nick Diamond and Dillon Bigcrane Jackson) to knock off Houston Christian in the semifinals last night, both teams sent lefties to the hill in the championship game. which would seem to favor Saguaro's lineup that featured eight right handers over Chaparral's lineup that has a lefty in each of the first five spots.
But that wasn't the case as Chaparral proved that the third time was the charm. The Firebirds strung together three consecutive hits to start the game before a pair of sac flies off the bat of Dylan Cozens and Jeremy Wolf got the scoring started. It continued with a two-run double off the bat of Collin Gabel to push it to 4-0. It was more than enough offense for Firebirds LHP Alec Zeidler who limited Saguaro’s high powered offense to three runs (one earned) over six innings, striking out seven and walking two.
Chaparral coach Sam Messina explained after the game "we're blessed in that we have good coaches, so they see lefty BP on an almost daily basis," adding "the lefty on lefty doesn't really bother us that much."
Chaparral OF Dylan Cozens was named tournament Most Valuable Player, Saguaro RHP Daniel Akmon was named Most Valuable Pitcher.
Semifinal scout blogs
Saguaro overpowers Arcadia to advance to Cleats Invitational Championship
Boxscore via GameChanger
-Saguaro 2012 OF Austin Anderson tagged a deep Home Run to right field that clanked off of the sign commemorating the Sun Devils retirement of Barry Bonds' #24 jersey in Arizona State's Packard Stadium.Anderson finished the game 3-for-4 with 2 Runs and 2 RBIs and stole a base.
-Saguaro 2012 OF Zach Gibbons showed off his well rounded skillset as per usual, but his baserunning instincts were especially evident as he stole bases at will, going 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts.
-Saguaro 2012 OF Chris Akmon went 3-for-4 on the day and was a Home Run shy of the cycle.
-Arcadia 2012 C Max Schuman went 1-for-3 with an RBI double that registered at 94 mph off the bat.
-Arcadia 2012 OF Drew Butler smoked a line drive back up the middle that registered at 90 mph off the bat...but Saguaro SS Matt Morris reacted quickly, moved to his left to snag the liner and double off the runner at first for an inning ending double play. Morris went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Chaparral rallies to knock off Houston Christian to earn title game berth
-Chaparral 2012 OF Dylan Cozens went 1-for-4 at the plate but was the hero of the game. Cozens came to bat with two on and two out and the game tied in the fifth inning. After going 0-for his first three ABs, Cozens smashed a screaming line drive to the left center field gap that registered at100 mph off the bat. Cozens showed good speed for his massive size (6-foot-5 and 230 lbs.) to get three bases on a ball hit to left field. Cozens hit a pair of Home Runs in Chaparral's win over Cactus Shadows on Thursday.
-Houston Christian 2012 RHP Brian Triegloff threw a complete game for the Mustangs, his fastball topped out at 92 mph and he hit 91 on each of his three final fastballs of the game. While he took the loss he showed a lot of heart battling against a strong Chaparral lineup that features five power hitting lefties at the top of the lineup. Triegloff also hit a 2-rundouble down the line in right field, making a good adjustment after seeing three changeups in the same at bat.
-Chaparral 2013 LHP/1B Dillon Bigcrane Jackson nailed down a three inning save for the Firebirds. His fastball sat 84-87 and touched 88 with short arm action and downhill plane when he managed to stay tall in his delivery. His sweeping 1-7 curveball showed big 2-plane break and he also worked in a pair of mid 70s changeups. Bigcrane also just missed hitting a 2-run Home Run, settling for an RBI double that hit off the top of the fence in right center.
-Chaparral 2012 LHP Nick Diamond, an ASU commit, made himself right at home in Packard Stadium. Diamond struck out 11 over four innings to pick up the win. His fastball sat 83-86, he took advantage of a wide strike zone, painting the outside black with a fastball that featured hard tailing action.
-Houston Christian 2014 MIF Devon Wilson showed a quick fluid swing and very good speed, stretching a sharply hit single to left into a double.
-Houston Christian 2012 SS Jonathan Bravo had the defensive gem of the night, leaping to rob a single and then throwing off his back foot to double off the runner at first for an inning ending double play. He would also come around to score after being conspicuously slow to get out of the way of a breaking ball on the inner half, which is an example of the many little things that Bravo does to help his team win.
Arcadia was involved in a pair of exciting games. Their tournament opener against Desert Mountain saw them come from behind to force extra innings before 1B Drew Butler capped off the comeback with a walk-off Home Run.
The Titans would find themselves on the other end of a comeback in the National Game of the Week. LHP Andrew Naderer impressed in front of 20-30 scouts who were on hand to watch Houston Christian RHP Mitchell Traver, outpitching the all-american for most of the game. But Houston Christian would rally back for a 3-2 victory with a complete game from Traver.
Desert Mountain would have their time to shine as well, as MIF/RHP Cody Erickson dominated Houston Christian in a locally televised matchup at Grand Canyon University. Erickson lost his perfect game with a two out walk in the sixth. He would take a no-hitter into the seventh, but had to settle for a complete game one-hit shutout that he punctuated with 11 strikeouts.
Opening day at Arcadia saw more drama after the walk-off Home Run. In the nightcap Seton Catholic RHP Troy Ruggiero threw a no-hitter against Redlands East Valley. Though he did give up a run in their 9-1 win.
Chaparral not only won the championship but also had a pair of earlier highlights. OF Dylan Cozens' two homer game against Cactus Shadows was the story of Thursday, and their come-from-behind victory in the semifinals against Houston Christian was one of the most well played games of the tournament.
2012 Cleats Sports Invitational Classic All-Tournament Team
*as chosen by the tournament staff.
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