FORT MYERS, Fla. - While his players continued their celebration just outside of the first base dugout at City of Palms Park early Friday afternoon, SWFL Baseball 16u head coach Clint Montgomery recalled the first time he met with his PG national championship team earlier this year.
"The first speech that we gave was about buying-in, and the guys have," Montgomery said from the hot playing field. "This is the first time I've never had a complaint about at-bats, innings (played) or anything like that, and the results are showing. Everybody's bought into the team system."
That all-in attitude paid-out handsomely on Friday as No. 8-seed SWFL (8-1-1) outlasted No. 2 Dulins Dodgers (9-1), 2-1, to win the Perfect Game national championship at the PG 16u BCS Finals.
It marked the second time this summer SWFL 16u won a PG tournament - it also won the 16u WWBA East Memorial Day Classic here in late May.
The championship game against a never-say-die Dulins team was a doozy. SWFL took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning thanks to RBI singles from Donovan Petrey (2015, Arcadia, Fla.) and Matthew Richey (2014, Cape Coral, Fla.) but the Dodgers weren't done.
Shane Tucker (2013, Memphis, Tenn.) drove in a run with a one-out single but the Dodgers ultimately left the tying run on third and the winning run on second.
Right-hander Demitry Zafra (2014, Naples, Fla.) worked the first six innings for SWFL and gave up five hits and the one run. Lefty Luis Ferrer (2014, Cape Coral) came in to get the final three outs, but also surrendered a pair of hits before ending the game.
"Our bats kind of went quiet through the playoffs, and that normally happens because the further you get you're going to see better teams, better pitchers, better defense," Montgomery said. "But the one constant thing we did was we played error-free ball through the whole playoffs ... and if you do that you've got a chance.
"We built our team around speed, defense and pitching ... so we're playing the game the right way and good things are happening for us."
At the completion of the championship game, Petrey was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player while SWFL right-hander Sammy Malone (2014, Cape Coral) was named the MV Pitcher.
Petrey was 9-for-22 (.409) over the 10 games, with a double, two triples, seven RBI, nine runs scored, five walks and only one strikeout.
"We came out really focused and ready to play the first couple of games and we wanted to show what we had," Petrey said. "I did a lot of work during the week and I hit twice a day every day it wasn't raining, just trying to get ready for it and have a big tournament."
Malone managed to pick up three wins in his 7 2/3 innings of work. He gave up five hits and no earned runs while striking out 10 and walking none.
"This team is great, and I just tried to stay calm and pitch my best," Malone said. "My arm felt great every time I went out there and I just went out and tried my best. We came out here to win and we wanted to take it all, and that's what we did."
It was another crushing finish to a PG national tournament for the Dulins Dodgers. This marked the fifth straight time this team advanced to the semifinal round of a PG national championship event only to come up short. Four of those appearances ended in the championship game and the other in the semifinals.
This day belonged to SWFL Baseball, a day Montgomery may have saw coming.
"I've always said this since the beginning of the fall," he said. "I think I've coached five first-rounders (and) two second-rounders in this SWFL organization, so we've had great players, but I've always said this is the best team. This team has a little red-ass to them; they want to come out and they want to beat you."
SWFL BASEBALL 16U ENTERED THE PLAYOFFS as the No. 8 seed and eliminated No. 9 All American Prospects Red, 5-2, in the first round. It then faced upstart No. 16 seed Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals, and advanced to the semifinals behind a seven inning, nine-strikeout, one-hitter from right-hander Luke Rolland (2013, Cape Coral, Fla.).
Once in the semifinals on Friday morning against Florida Burn Orange, SWFL pushed across a single run in the top of the fourth and made it stand in a 1-0 victory. Malone and lefty Jonah Owenby (2014, Fort Myers) combined on seven inning six-hitter, striking out four and walking none.
SWFL also beat Florida Burn Orange in the championship game of the 16u PG WWBA Memorial Day Classic in late May.
"Our main goal is always to win our pool and get to the playoffs and then we let the cards fall where they may," Montgomery said. "We definitely come in with the expectation of being one of the final 16 teams every time if we can."
Dulins Dodgers coasted through their six games of pool-play and rode into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed. The Dodgers side-stepped No. 15 Next Level Baseball, 6-3, in the playoffs' first round the blanked the No. 10 Florida Red Sox, 6-0, in the quarters.
Left-hander John Sparks (2014, Cordova, Tenn.) sparkled in the win, allowing just one hit while striking out six and walking three in seven innings of work.
That led them into a semifinal against No. 6 Palm Beach County PAL where they needed only four innings to post 12 runs and advance to the championship game.
Hagen Owenby (2014, Knoxville, Tenn.) was a one-man wrecking crew, going 3-for-3 with a double, a triple and two-run home run in the fourth that enabled the Dodgers to win by the 12-run mercy rule. Rob Perteet (2014, Tuscaloosa, Ala.) was 2-for-3 with six RBI.
Florida Burn Orange earned the playoffs' No. 5 seed after an impressive final round of pool play, and got a pair of outstanding starts from right-handers Alex Collins (2014, Jacksonville) and Tyler Shambora (2013, Venice, Fla.) in first-round and quarterfinal victories.
Collins scattered six hits, allowed an earned run and struck out five in a 6-1 win over No. 12 Exel Blue Sox; Shambora allowed four hits and an earned run and struck out five in Burn's 9-1 quarterfinal win over No. 13 SF Elite Squad Red.
Sixth-seeded Palm Beach County PAL jumped all over Northern Ohio Baseball Club in a 16-2, four-inning romp in the playoffs' first round, then followed a seven-inning, three-hit, 10-strikeout performance from right-hander Sean Gabel (2014, Boca Raton, Fla., into the semifinals.