S FL Elite Squad Wins 16u WWBA

Tournaments : : Story
Todd Gold         Ben Collman        
Published: Friday, July 22, 2011

MARIETTA, Ga.-- The South Florida Elite Squad 16u Black didn't start off the 16u WWBA National Championship the way they had hoped. They didn't finish it the way many would have expected.

After dropping their tourney opener to the DBat Mustangs-Sharp 5-4 on Saturday, the outlook was bleak for the Elite Squad. But as head coach Richie Palmer explained "we could have mailed it in after we lost the first one, knowing we couldn't win our pool. But that goes to show they didn't stop believing, that's something we kept pressing upon them, telling them to play with heart and leave it all out there."

The Elite Squad took their coaches message to heart, crusing to an 8-0 victory over the Patriots of Northern Virginia. Their playoff run began with an ominous start as
Zach Collins (2013 University HS, Pembroke Pines, FL) broke it open with a Grand Slam. The power hitting Catcher who impressed with his left handed bat all tournament went on a tear through the playoffs that would continue with another Home Run to spark a come from behind victory in the second round against the East Cobb Astros 14u.

The difficult run through the playoffs got even tougher when rain interrupted the Elite Squad's third round matchup with the All-American Prospects Gray. The game was resumed on Friday morning with the Elite Squad on the winning end of a pitcher's duel at 1-0.
Colin Tindall(2013 South Browards HS, Hollywood, FL) would go on to earn the win with 4 1/3 no-hit innings. Collins' Home Run streak came to an end with a 2-for-3 day that included a run scored.

They would follow with another 2-0 win in the quartefinals against the Excel Blue Sox. Wyatt Hawes (2013 Highlands Christian, Pompano, FL) outdueled Frazier Taylor (2012 Oxford HS, AL) in a very well pitched game. Taylor threw 73% of his pitches for strikes and limited the talented Elite Squad lineup to just 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 6. But Hawes was even better, throwing a 3-hit shutout to turn Collins' second inning run into the game winner.

The sledding wouldn't get any easier in the semifinals, as the Elite Squad ran into the tournament's #1 overall seed; the Houston Banditos Black. The Banditos tore through pool play, winning all five games by run rule, piling up an incredible 63 runs, while shutting out Pool W. Through eight games the Banditos had allowed just 3 runs total heading into their semfinal matchup with South Florida Elite. The heavyweight battle began with each side trading blows in the first inning, before the Banditos pulled ahead in the 2nd inning.

Zach Collins continued to will the Elite Squad to victory, driving in the tying run in the top of the third and scoring the winning run. Collins would go 3-for-3 with a walk, a Run and 2 RBIs as the Elite Squad piled on plenty of insurance runs in the 4th and 5th innings, knocking off the top seeded Banditos 11-4 to earn a berth in the championship game.

The title game pitted familiar foes, with South Florida Elite taking on their up-state rival Orlando Scorpions Underclass Purple. The Scorpions also had a very long day on Friday, playing 17 innings of baseball on Field 1 at the East Cobb complex. The Scorpions entered the game at 9-0 on the tourney after entering the playoffs as the #4 seed.

The Elite Squad got off to a quick start with a 2-run double by Zach Collins in the top of the first. Following a three-up three-down bottom of the first the Elite Squad kept the offensive fireworks going with a leadoff Home Run by
CJ Chatham (2013 Nova HS, Ft. Lauderdale, FL) to make it 3-0. An RBI triple by leadoff hitter Willy Abreu (2013 Miami Springs HS, Hialeh, FL) pushed the lead to 4-0 before Collins made it 6-0 with his seventh double of the day.

Cory Garrastazu
(2013 Goleman HS, Pembroke Pines, FL) earned the win in the championship, holding the Scorpions to just three hits over 5 shutout innings as the South Florida Elite Squad ended the championship game early with a 8-0 run rule victory.

CJ Chatham made a strong case for tournament MVP honors, hitting .406 with 5 Home Runs, but teammate Zach Collins put together an incredible tournament. Collins went 18-for-29 (.621) with 5 walks (.686 OBP) with 7 doubles, 2 Home Runs and an impressive 16 RBIs to capture Most Valuable Player honors. Andrew Ward of the Scorpions was named Most Valuable Pitcher after throwing 8 innings without allowing an earned run and pitching the Scorpions into the championship game with a CG victory in the semifinals.
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