MARIETTA, Ga. -- Gravel Baseball head coach Sam Sorce probably should have been careful what he wished for, because it nearly came back to bite him.
In a conversation with Perfect Game Saturday night after Sorce had learned his team had earned a spot in Sunday's final four at the 15u Perfect Game World Series at the East Cobb Baseball Complex, Sorce was asked to reflect on the Gravelers' 15-0 loss to Marucci Elite on Wednesday in his team's second game at the tournament.
"That was probably the worst loss that we've ever had -- I know for this team it has been-- but you get games like that," Sorce said Saturday. "They were swinging the bats, and you just get games like that. I would like to see them again."
He got his wish. As fate would have it, Gravel Baseball and Marucci Elite both advanced to Sunday afternoon's championship game on Field 1 at the ECB Complex, and this time the Gravelers turned the table.
Gravel Baseball (7-1)watched a 7-2 fourth inning lead dissolve into a 7-5 advantage after five, but held on to beat Marucci Elite, 9-6, in the championship game to win its first PG national championship.
"Absolutely, this is great,"Sorce said after his team posed for the obligatory championship photos and accepted its championship silver cup, but before the players got fitted for PG national championship rings.
"The kids love it and the competition is fantastic. You play in tournaments where there's 144 teams in them, but I prefer these 16-team (events) where the teams are hand-picked and the competition is there every day," he continued. "We had one bad game this week --Marucci smoked us -- and that was really it."
It is Gravel Baseball 15u's second championship in two weeks -- it won the 2012 CABA World Series exactly a week ago in South Bend, Ind. Although this week was a grind, it was really just more of the same for the Gravelers.
"Honestly, we've been playing like this for the last month or so," Sorce said. "We've won the last three or four tournaments we've played in, so we've been on a roll for about a month."
Gravel Baseball sure knows how to wield the lumber, and now it has a 15u Perfect Game World Series national championship to show for it. The Gravelers totaled 12 hits in the title game compared to six for Marucci Elite, but also committed four errors. Despite those miscues, five of Marucci's six runs were earned.
Charlie Donovan (2015, Clarendon Hills,Ill.) was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and four RBI in the championship game,and even though he hit only .286 (8-for-28) for the tournament, he led his team with 10 RBI. Joshua Stowers (2015, Westchester, Ill.) was 3-for-4 with a double, triple, two RBI and two runs in the title game.
Gravel Baseball hit .322 (68-for-211) as ateam with 20 extra-base hits while averaging almost seven runs per game. And there was one prospect who contributed mightily to those flashy numbers. Ako Thomas (2015, Chicago) was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after.455 (10-for-22) with 12 runs scored and five RBI.
"This has been perfect. This is just agreat end to our season," Sorce said. "This is the end of our 2012season and I couldn't think of a better way to finish it."
Marucci Elite right-hander Zane Gill (2015,Pensacola Beach, Fla.) was named the tournament's Most Valuable Pitcher. Gill was 2-0 in two starts and compiled a 1.91 ERA in 11 innings pitched while allowing just five hits and striking out 15.
Marucci Elite (6-2) jumped to a 4-1 second inning lead and cruised to a 7-2 win over the Dallas Patriots Valdez (5-3) in the first 15u PGWS semifinal Sunday morning on Field 3 at the ECB Complex.
Elite scored its seven runs on eight hits,including a solo home run from No. 10 hitter Joey Barts (2015), Butler Ga.),and RBI triple form Simon Prevot (2015, Baton Rouge, La.) and run-scoring doubles from Lenni Kunert (2015, Denham Springs, Ga.) and Wyatt Martin (2015, Oak Grove, La.). Gill was at his best andgave up two runs on three hits in six innings, striking out nine.
Gravel Baseball pushed across four runs inthe top of the seventh to pull out a 7-4 win over Team Northwest (5-2) in the second semifinal early Sunday afternoon. Gravel took advantage of a combination of walks, passed balls, a run-scoring balk and a solid RBI single from Justin Rodriguez (2015, Woodale,Ill.) to manufacture the game-winning runs.
A trio of right-handers -- Donovan, Thomas and Stephen Bonnain (2015, Tomball, Texas) combined on a seven inning five-hitter,striking out 10.
2012 15u Perfect Game World Series runner-up: Marucci Elite
2012 15u Perfect Game World Series MVP: Ako Thomas
2012 15u Perfect Game World Series MVPitcher: Zane Gill