FORT MYERS, Fla. - For the second straight year, the East Cobb Astros 15u are seeing double when it comes to winning elite Perfect Game national championships.
The No. 2-seeded Astros 15u overwhelmed No. 5 Elite Baseball with a 10-hit attack and effective pitching in an 9-1, five inning victory in the championship game of the PG 15u BCS Finals at an unusually dry City of Palms Park Friday afternoon. It was their second straight 15u BCS Finals.
Even more noteworthy, it was not only the second straight year the Astros 15u won the 15u BCS Finals, but also the second straight year they won both the BCS Finals and the PG WWBA 15u National Championship, a title they secured two weeks ago at their home base in Marietta, Ga.
The national titles in the PG 15u BCS Finals and the PG WWBA 15u National Championship represent the most elite double-double on the Perfect Game schedule. And to accomplish the feat with two totally different teams makes it all the more impressive.
"We try to take guys who compete very well and who are athletic and play very good defense," head coach Dennis Jordan said while his young squad soaked it all in. "It is two different groups but they're a lot alike; they never quit playing, they play hard and that's our philosophy - we come every day to play as hard as we possibly can. I have to give this group a whole lot of credit because that's exactly what they've done."
At the conclusion of the championship game, Astros 15u shortstop Darren Miller (2014, Key West, Fla.) was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. His performance was truly remarkable, going 12-for-21 (.571) with seven doubles, four RBI 12 runs scored and a .690 on-base percentage at the plate. He also pitched nine innings and allowed only one earned run (0/78 ERA) on two hits and struck out 14.
"We play as a team well, and I'm Key West and it's an honor to go up (to Georgia) and play with such a good team," Miller said. "When one player is on, everybody's on, and it makes it easy to win. It's great, they're all my friends. I remember playing against them when we were little but now we're all together and we play good. It's real fun."
Elite baseball right-hander Mack Rosman (2015, Inverness, Ill.) was named the tournament's MV Pitcher. He pitched 17 innings and went 2-0, allowing nine hits and posting a 0.41 ERA with 21 strikeouts.
In the championship game, the Astros 15u (10-0) jumped out to a 5-1 lead after two and cemented the win with two runs in each of the fourth and the fifth innings. Slade Dale (2014, Ringgold, Ga.) was 4-for-4 with a three-run triple and five RBI overall, and right-hander Jonathan Hughes (2015, Flowery Branch, Ga.) scattered four hits over five innings and struck out four.
For the tournament, eight East Cobb pitchers combined to record a 1.81 team ERA, and allowed 40 hits and struck out 66 in 62 innings.
"It's been a great week. We've really played really well, offensively and defensively," Jordan said. "And I can't say enough about our kids pitching-wise; we've really thrown a lot of strikes this week, and one of the good things we do is we make other teams beat us. If we compete around the plate and make the plays in the field, the way we hit the ball it's going to be tough on anybody else, and we've done a great job this week."
Chicago-based Elite Baseball (8-2) surprised some people by advancing to the championship game, but not head coach Justin Stone.
"If you would asked us prior to the tournament that if we were 5-1 going into the (playoff) bracket if we would have been happy with that, well, we feel like we're a strong enough team that we can make a run deep into this if we play our style of ball," Stone said Thursday. "It's been a good experience for our kids to come down here and see that teams from the Midwest can come down here and play with teams from the Southeast."
The East Cobb Astros 15u moved into the championship game for the second straight year by beating 11th-seeded Team IMPACT, 11-6, in a semifinal Friday morning on the auxiliary field at COP. The Astros jumped to a 6-1 lead after a five-run second, and added two more runs in the fourth and three in the sixth.
Alonzo Jones (2015, Columbus, Ga.) was 3-for-3 with a double, triple and five RBI to lead the Astros. Right-hander Burton Dulaney (2015, Rome, Ga.) worked all seven innings and gave up six runs on eight hits with six strikeouts.
The Astros were awarded the No. 2 seed after zipping through pool-play with a 6-0 mark, and then won a pair of one-run games in the first two rounds of the playoffs to reach the semis. They avoided a monumental upset by edging the No. 15 New England Firebirds, 3-2, in the first round, then escaped the No. 7 East Cobb Tigers, 4-3, in the quarters.
Elite Baseball reached the title game by ousting the top-seeded Columbus Sharks, 4-0, in a semifinal Friday morning at the stadium at COP. Rosman pitched a complete game, seven inning four-hit shutout, striking out 10 and walking only one. Sam Flamini (2015, Yorkville, Ill.) had a two run single to pace the offense.
Elite suffered a loss in the first round of pool-play then breezed through the second round unbeaten to earn the playoffs' No. 5 seed. It shutout the No. 12 Dallas Tigers-Parras, 5-0, in the first round and moved into the semifinals with a 5-3 upset of No. 4 Boca Thunder Baseball in the quarterfinals.
The Sharks earned the No. 1 seed after completing its two rounds of pool-play at 6-0. Once in the playoffs, they blanked the No. 16 East Cobb Cardinals, 8-0, in the first-round and then got past No. 8 Twelve Black, 6-3, in the quarterfinals.
Team IMPACT seemed like an unlikely final four candidate after a 4-2 pool-play showing. Entering the playoffs as the No. 11 seed, it surprised the No. 6 East Cobb Yankees, 5-1, in first-round play, and then edged even more surprising No. 14 Hit & Run Baseball, 2-1, in the quarterfinals.
2012 15u BCS Finals runner-up: Elite Baseball
2012 15u BCS Finals MVP: Darren Miller
2012 15u BCS Finals MVPitcher: Mack Rosman