MARIETTA, Ga. – The Dulins Dodgers outperformed their opponents in every facet of the game today to take first place in the 2013 15u WWBA National Championship, not allowing a run in either the semifinal or championship games.
Dulins pitcher Riley Self captured the MV-Pitcher award with his lights-out performance on the mound in the semifinal game against the Houston Banditos 15u Black.
Self threw a complete game one-hitter this morning, giving up just one hit, which didn’t come until the seventh inning. He walked one and struck out three in the game as Dulins beat the Banditos, 2-0, to advance to the championship game against Lids Indiana Bulls Black.
Self’s 15u WWBA National Championship stat line reads two starts, 13 innings pitched, five hits allowed, two walks, eight strikeouts, a 0.54 earned run average, and a 0.54 WHIP.
“I just came out here and threw as hard as I could and kept the ball low,” said Self. “(I) tried to hit the strike zone as much as I could and let my defense work.”
Self’s performance in the semifinals this morning is one he won’t soon forget. “”I had a no-hitter going into the seventh and he (Conner Capel) had a high chopper and he beat it out.”
He said the key to his outstanding performance this morning was the fact that he was able to get loose enough before the game, something that he said usually takes him a couple of innings. “I had to come out loose against a team like that,” Self said. “I couldn’t let them get ahead and I just had to get ahead in the count and pound the zone.”
“Riley is a Mississippi State commit and come out here and almost threw a no-hitter,” said head coach Tom Kliman. “He was on the whole game, throwing 85 mph in the last inning.”
As outstanding as the 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander was on the mound, you don’t want to take the bat out of Self’s hands. He hit .400, going 8-for-20 with two doubles and four RBI, while also scoring seven runs in the tournament.
Southpaw LaDarious Williams got the nod to start the championship game against the Lids Indiana Bulls Black team who had just earlier defeated the Georgia Roadrunners 15u, 16-8.
Williams allowed just two hits and three walks in five innings of shutout baseball to earn the win.
“I came out there just throwing strikes because I knew I had a great defense, one of the best in the world,” Williams said. “If I just got ground balls and pop fly’s and let them hit it they would back me up, 100 percent.”
Williams helped himself out at the plate, collecting two doubles and four RBI to go along with his outstanding game on the mound.
“(I) just went up there not trying to do too much; not thinking about it; just swing the bat wherever it’s at,” said Williams. “I just let my offense and defense work for me.”
The Dulins Dodgers did just that.
The Dodgers posted six runs in the first inning, scoring them all with two outs. In the inning, Dulins tallied two walks, were hit-by-pitches twice, and collected four base hits. Maybe even more impressively, they batted around, with 11 total plate appearances in the inning.
After a walk to start the second inning, Williams was able to get the next batter to fly out and then got a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Dulins nearly batted around again in the very next inning, scoring three more runs, all with two outs, to extend their lead to 9-0.
It was smooth sailing from that point on, as the pitching and defensive efforts from Dulins kept the Lids Indiana Bulls Black, who had just scored 16 runs less than two hours prior, from crossing the plate even once.
The Dodgers looked unstoppable all day long, outscoring their two opponents, 11-0. They finished the tournament with an 11-0 record and outscored their competition, 85-12. Dulins only allowed a single run in four playoff contests, dominating its opponents.
“This team is amazing. It’s just unbelievable,” Self said, holding his MV-Pitcher trophy. “It took heart, guts, and everybody just getting after it and we didn’t give up.”
“We got a great team,” added Kliman. “We stayed focus, got timely hitting, good defense, and great pitching.”
“I got a great assistant coaching staff working together for one common goal and that was to win here today,” Kliman continued. “We finished one out of 192, that’s awesome.”
Taking home the tournament MVP trophy was Lids Indiana Bulls Black catcher/designated hitter TJ Collett.
Collett put up out-of-this-world type numbers during the Bulls’ tournament run, going 21-for-33 (.636 average) with a .733 on-base percentage and a 1.182 slugging percentage. Eleven of Collett’s 21 hits were for extra bases. He collected six doubles, three triples and two home runs. Collett also tallied 18 RBI, 14 runs scored, and 12 walks.
In seven of the Bulls' 11 games, Collett turned in multi-hit performances, including a 3-for-3 performance in his first tournament game, in which he collected a double, two triples, and three RBI. He also had a game in which he tallied five RBI.
Despite being a phenomenal baseball player, modesty might be his best quality. When asked about his performance this weekend, Collett wouldn’t talk about himself.
“I’m more proud of our team at this point,” Collett said. “We would have never thought we would’ve got here and we played our butts off to get to this point, and win or lose I’m pretty happy about the team.”
Despite coming up just short of being crowned 2013 15u WWBA National Champions, TJ Collett felt like the team benefitted greatly from being in Marietta this week. “I think the whole tournament altogether was a lot of fun for the team,” said Collett.
Tom Kliman felt similar about taking the opportunity to get a lot of competitive baseball in during the tournament.
“This is one of the best tournaments in the country; great facilities, good umpiring, and great competition,” Kliman said.
“We love coming here, that’s the bottom line.”
2013 15u WWBA National Championship runner-up: Lids Indiana Bulls Black
2013 15u WWBA National Championship MVP: TJ Collett, Lids Indiana Bulls Black
2013 15u WWBA National Championship MV-Pitcher: Riley Self, Dulins Dodgers 15u