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Tournaments : : Story

Published: Friday, October 22, 2010

JUPITER, Fla. – Josh Tobias and Jake Cave are high school seniors in two southeastern states who share a passion for baseball and are members of a select group who may, someday, make a nice living playing the game.

They have a lot in common, no doubt. And one of the most impressive accomplishments they can list on their resumes is that they were given the opportunity to play in the Aflac All-American Classic in San Diego in mid-August, and this week are playing in the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship held here at the Roger Dean Complex.

Tobias and Cave are members of the North Carolina-based Canes Baseball travel team program, and are with the Canes this week. The Canes, one of the pre-tournament favorites to win the World Championship, lost their opener Thursday to NE PG Purple, 2-1, but rebounded to beat the Houston Banditos, 12-1, Friday morning.

Tobias, a highly ranked middle-infielder who played left field Friday, was 2-for-2 with two walks, three runs scored and two stolen bases in the win. Cave, one of country’s top left-handed pitchers in the class of 2011, pitched three scoreless innings, but gave up three hits and two walks while striking out two.

“I feel like I didn’t have my stuff really today,” said Cave, who entered as pitcher in the third inning after playing the first two innings in right field. “I didn’t have time to warm-up, came in and struggled a little bit. Hopefully the next time I (pitch), I’ll have the live arm and that kind of stuff, but it wasn’t there today.”

That performance was more exception than rule. Cave, a 6-1, 180-pounder from Hampton, Va., is Perfect Game’s 26th-ranked national prospect and No. 1-ranked in Virginia, and his fast-ball is consistently clocked in the low 90s.

Tobias’ performance Friday was something that has become expected from the stocky 5-9, 194-pounder from Greensboro, N.C. He is ranked 16th nationally and No. 1 in North Carolina by Perfect Game.

Perfect Game projects Tobias to be the 75th player selected overall in the 2011 Major League Draft, with Cave going next at 76th overall. That places both players in the late second round.

The bottom line is both can play ball and will continue to play at a very high level next year. Tobias has verbally committed to Florida of the Southeastern Conference and Cave to LSU of the SEC.

They’ve been proving their worth to Canes head coach Jeff Petty for the last three years now.

“They just rise to the occasion when things are on the line,” Petty said. “The other guys look to them and kind of follow their lead, and if they’re having success it makes the other guys play harder.”

It was Perfect Game events like the WWBA World Championship and other national tournaments and showcases that got the players noticed, and that fact isn’t lost on them.

“Perfect Game, when I finally started doing it, (it) got my name out there and got scouts out here and probably got me a college scholarship,” Tobias said. “If we hadn’t gone to those, we probably wouldn’t be as highly scouted as me and Jake are now.”

Cave said he has been to numerous Perfect Game events – at least 10 in the past two years – and that exposure has proved extremely valuable.

“If I hadn’t been to them, there would probably be a lot of scouts who wouldn’t be out here today and wouldn’t even know about me,” Cave said. “I know the same goes for Josh. We’re teammates during the summer but we go to a lot of the same showcase events for Perfect Game and it definitely helps us.”

The involvement with PG was also instrumental in their selection as Aflac All-Americans, an honor bestowed on only 38 players in 2010. Both Cave and Tobias said there really was no fair way to compare playing in the Aflac game with playing at the World Championship.

“This is a great tournament, I love it, it’s competitive, everybody’s good, that kind of stuff, but I’ll never be in something like the Aflac game ever again,” Cave said. “I think they’re two totally different things … but this is definitely a top-quality tournament as far as competition-wise and being competitive and wanting to win.”

Tobias agreed: “This is a great event, everybody’s competitive, everybody’s good, but Aflac, that’s probably the best experience I’ve had in my life.”

Now the two talented young men –both are excellent students with Tobias boasting an eye-popping 4.35 GPA at Southeast Guilford High School in Greensboro and Cave an even 3.0 at Kecoughtan HS in Hampton – can look forward to their final season of high school baseball this spring before looking toward the June Amateur Draft and college baseball in 2012.

That doesn’t mean, of course, they aren’t already pondering the future a little bit.

“I look ahead at it and see where I’m going to be, what I’m going to do,” Tobias said. “I still try to focus on my last year as a high school player because I’m not going to be living in that state (Virginia) for long. I’ll try to enjoy that while still looking ahead to the future and see what it’s going to hold.”

 
 
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