The Orlando Scorpions scored 3 runs in the top of the 7th inning to defeat the Midland Braves/Royals Scout Team 3-1 and win the 2009 WWBA Underclass World Championship. To see video of the game, click here.
The final game was like two heavyweight fighters who knew they only had a couple of good punches left in them. Both teams were playing their 8th game in 4 days in the unseasonably warm mid 90 degree weather in Fort Myers, Florida. The Scorpions had just staged a late inning comeback to defeat the East Cobb Braves in one semifinal. That was nothing compared with the gauntlet that Midland had run the previous 24 hours.
After qualifying as the final wildcard team in the 32 team playoff field, the Braves won two playoff games on Sunday in tie breakers as the visiting team. Then in the semifinals Monday morning on the Stadium Field at City of Palms Park, the Braves outlasted the Florida Mustangs in a 10 inning, 3+ hour classic, 8-7, on a 10th inning home run by SS Phil Mosey.
The first 5 1/2 innings of the championship game were played in barely over an hour, as the Braves starter RHP Nick McCarty and the Scorpions LHP Jordan Taylor both pounded the strike zone and the hitters seemed anxious to play along, keeping pitch counts low by swinging early and often. McCarty's performance was especially gutsy as the slender right hander had thrown 4 1/3 innings on Sunday during the Braves first playoff victory, then picked up the save in the 10th inning of the semifinal game Monday morning.
Midland struck first in the bottom of the 6th inning when 1B Jackson Laumann led off with a solid single up the middle off the tiring Taylor. 3B Perry Rigby sacrificed Laumann to second base and Taylor got 2B Cody Scaggari swinging on a 3-2 fastball for the second out. CF JoJo Woods came into to face leadoff hitter Lance McCullers and walked him, then watched as EH Drew Stiner plated Laumann with a single for the game's first run.
Midland brought in RF Colton Bottomley to pitch the 7th inning but Woods led off the frame with a slicing double up the left centerfield gap to energize the Scorpions bench. 2B Austin Slater, who had to be removed from the game in the 4th inning with a cramping calf, reemerged from the Orlando dugout to poke a single to right field to score Woods and tie the game.
SS Patrick Leonard tried to sacrifice pinch runner Carl Everett Jr. to second base but put down such a good push punt down the first base line that both runners were safe. C A.C. Carter then dropped another perfect bunt to move the runners to second and third. 1B Sikes Orvis was walked intentionally to load the bases for RF Austin Bousfield.
Bousfield, whose 2 run single gave Orlando their 6th inning lead in the semifinals, lifted a shallow fly ball to right field and Everett Jr., son of former ML outfielder Carl Everett, barely beat RF Mosey's throw to the plate with the lead run. A single by Taylor plated an insurance run and Woods was able to retire the exhausted Braves quietly in the bottom of the 7th.
McCarty, a 2011 grad from Cathedral HS in Indianapolis, IN, was named the championship's Most Valuable Pitcher. His 11 1/3 shutout innings, allowing only 4 hits, over the final 2 days of the championship were deceivingly easy, as he probably threw only about 50-55 pitches in his 6 innings of work in the championship game.
Slater, a 2011 grad from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, FL, was named the Most Valuable Player. Slater went 11-24 over 8 games with 12 Rbi's, 9 of those in the playoffs and many coming in key situations, including the game winner Monday afternoon.