Monday, July 13, 2009
MARIETTA, Ga. -- Travis Harrison and the ABD Bulldogs Red will have some extra luggage for their trip home to California early Tuesday morning, but that's perfectly OK with them. They earned it.
Harrison was named the Most Valuable Player of the World Wood Bat Association 17U National Championships Monday afternoon as the ABD Bulldogs topped the East Cobb Astros, 11-4, in the championship game to finish the week-long event with a perfect 10-0 record.
Harrison, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound slugger, went 15 for 26 in the tournament with at least 10 extra-base hits. He was 2-for-4 Monday and reached base three times in the leadoff spot to help ignite the Bulldogs.
"I was just trying to get the team going a little bit," he said of his week-long exploits. "We played really well. It made it easier on me."
Harrison received a big, handsome MVP trophy cup to carry on the flight home to the West Coast. The team also received a similar trophy for capturing the championship of this immense 192-team tournament that included many of the best summer club teams in the country.
"It's obviously a great accomplishment," said Harrison. "We go into every game knowing that we're going to win, expecting to win. And if we play how we should and stay focused throughout the game, we'll come out on top."
The Bulldogs faced a tough opponent Monday in the East Cobb Astros and star pitcher Kaleb Cowart, an Aflac All-American who was clocked at 94 mph, but Cowart ran into control problems in the fourth inning and loaded the bases with two walks and a hit-batter. A bloop single plated one run, then two more singles by ABD batters knocked in two additional runs and chased Cowart from the mound on the short end of the score.
"He's tough," said ABD shortstop Tony Wolters, another Aflac All-American. "He's got good stuff and good movement on his fastball. But we're good enough hitters to pick that up."
Trevor Williams, a 6-foot-2 righthander from San Diego, pitched a complete game for the Bulldogs. He escaped a few jams and held the good-hitting Astros to four runs with an 89 mph fastball.
"My first few innings were a little rough,'' said Williams, who hit three batters and allowed two runs in the first two frames, "but then I got dialed in and hit my spots. It felt pretty good."
The East Cobb Astros, who went 9-1 in the tournament, used seven pitchers in the seven-inning game. The Astros stayed close and trailed by only two runs, 6-4, before the Bulldogs put it away with five runs in the top of the seventh.
Michael Lorenzen went 3-fo-4 for the Bulldogs and drove in two runs. Christian Yelich was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and Stefan Sabol also drove in two runs. All told, eight ABD batters drove in runs.
The Bulldogs played single games on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, then played two games apiece on Saturday, Sunday and Monday to finish 10-0 in seven days. They spent a lot of time at the ballparks in Georgia this past week.
"It's hard, but everyone just works through it," said Wolters. "There were people hurt and there were people tired, but everyone gave 100 percent."
"It was a blast," he said. "I love this tournament."
"It was fun," Williams agreed, "but I want to get back home."
The championship game was the 566th and final game in the 17U tournament.
Will West, a left-hander from Tallahassee, Fla., was named the Most Valuable Pitcher in the tournament after throwing a pair of shutouts with 20 strikeouts for the East Cobb Astros.