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Tournaments : : Story
6. Florida Bombers Win the PG WWBA National
Perfect Game Staff        
Published: Monday, December 30, 2002

Atlanta, GA - The Florida Bombers proved to have one of the top summer teams in history. They won 50 games in a row, playing some of the best competition in the USA. The tournament with the most talent and quality teams was the PG WWBA Championship held in Marietta, GA. At the beautiful 9 million dollar East Cobb complex. The Bombers won 9 straight to take home the rings. Scouts were all over the place including many scouting directors and nearly every major college power in the country. San Antonio, TX., Jeff Manship playing for ?€?Ohio Thunder?€? may have put on the performance of the tournament on a 1-hitter with 17 strike outs in a 1-0 victory against the power house East Cobb Yankees.

Here is the story that appeared in Baseball America.

By Allan Simpson
July 15, 2002

MARIETTA, Ga.--The Florida Bombers proved their perfect record was no fluke.

Playing against their stiffest competition of the summer at the Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Association championship, the Bombers extended their 2002 record to 43-0 by winning nine straight games at the 40-team, high school-age tournament. They hung on to beat the Ohio Warhawks 3-2 in Sunday's deciding game.

"This is the best club we've ever had," said Bombers coach Emilio Fernandez, whose four-year-old team won its fourth major tournament this summer. "This tournament was a great test for us. It was by far the strongest field we've seen."

The Bombers rolled through pool play with five straight wins, outscoring their opponents 42-7. With the field then whittled to 16, they entered bracket play as the No. 1 seed and were forced to win four games on the final day as rain Saturday pushed the first-round of back a day. The Bombers survived their biggest scare in the Round of 16 when they rallied from a late 3-1 deficit against the Fort Myers (Fla.) Eagles in the fifth inning on a two-run homer by outfielder Willy Hernandez, and won 4-3 in extra innings.

The Bombers then defeated the reigning Connie Mack World Series champion East Cobb (Ga.) Yankees 5-2 and the AAU 16-year-old defending champion East Cobb Astros 5-3 before meeting the unbeaten Warhawks, the reigning National Amateur Baseball Federation College World Series champions, in the final.

The Bombers scored three times in the first inning on consecutive doubles by shortstop Marcos Cabral, Hernandez, third baseman Gaby Sanchez and DH Camilo Vasquez, and made the lead stand up against the Warhawks.

Vasquez, Cincinnati's unsigned fourth-round draft pick from Florida 6-A champion Hialeah High, was named the tournament MVP. Though drafted by the Reds as a pitcher, Vasquez worked in only one game in the tournament, striking out eight in three innings in a pool-play game. He did most of his damage with the bat, hitting nearly .500 overall while driving in 12 runs.

The Bombers will now set their sights on the Connie Mack World Series, scheduled for Aug. 2-8 in Farmington, N.M. They fell one game short last year when they lost to eventual champion East Cobb Yankees in a regional final. The two teams are on a collision course again this year.

While the Bombers were composed of players entirely from Florida with all but three from Dade County high schools, the Warhawks (38-6) had players from nine different states. The Warhawks reached the final in exciting fashion when shortstop Herman Demmink, a Clemson recruit, rallied his team from a 5-0 deficit with a fifth-inning grand slam as the Warhawks defeated California's ABD Bulldogs 6-5.

Righthander Ross Lewis earned his sixth save of the tournament (and third of the day) in that game for the Warhawks. Lewis, a freshman at Central Florida Community College and one of the few non-high school players in the tournament, was named the tournament's outstanding pitcher. The 6-foot-8 righthander didn't allow an earned run in 16 innings.

The tournament was played at East Cobb Baseball's new $9.8 million complex, with teams from as far away as Puerto Rico and Canada. Players had to either be in high school last spring or not turn 19 before Aug. 1 to participate, and the draft classes of 2002 and 2003 were heavily represented.

Scouting Around

Upwards of 25 pitchers were clocked at 93 mph or better, led by East Cobb righthander Micah Owings, the unsigned second-round pick of the Rockies whose fastball registered a high of 97. Shortstop Tyler Greene, an unsigned second-round pick of the Braves, also played for the East Cobb Yankees, who went only 4-3 overall.

Righthander Zach Greinke, the sixth overall pick in this year's draft, played two games at shortstop for Team Florida before signing with the Royals for $2.475 million midway through the tournament.

Perfect Game Royal, an all-star team of prospective 2003 draftees, may have had the most talented team of all as it fielded as many as nine future first-round picks. Outfielder Lastings Milledge (St. Petersburg) and righthander Jeff Allison (Peabody, Mass.), the No. 1-ranked position player and pitcher in the '03 high school class, highlighted the team but it bowed out with a 3-3 record.
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