MARIETTA, Ga. - It was an all-Evoshield affair in the 2013 16u WWBA National Championship game at Lassiter High School, as the Evoshield Canes 16u defeated the Evoshield Canes North 16u, 9-7.
The Evoshield Canes jumped out to a 6-0 lead early, scoring two in the top of the first inning and four in the second. But the North capitalized on some Canes miscues and walks to score seven runs in the bottom of the third and take a 7-6 lead. The Canes tied the game up after scoring a run on a wild pitch in the fourth inning. Logan Tolbert started what would be the game-winning rally with a leadoff double in the sixth. He would come around to score and the Canes would plate two in the inning and become 16u WWBA National Champions.
“Every single guy we brought contributed during this week,” said Greg Conner, the coach of the Evoshield Canes 16u. “Pitchers pounded the strike zone all week and did a good job. We had timely hitting and different people stepped up all the way along. Today we just found a way to get it done.”
The Evoshield Canes 16u finished the tournament with an impressive 12-0 record. They outscored their opponents 92-22 and recorded three shutouts. The team hit for an incredible .327 AVG (99-for-303) with 32 extra-base hits and a .416 on-base percentage.
Pacing the offense was tournament MVP Danny Blair. Blair went 14-for-34 (.412 AVG) with five extra-base hits, five RBI, and a .545 on-base percentage. He collected five multi-hit game, including a 2-for-5 performance with a triple in the championship.
“I came into this tournament prepared,” Blair said. I wanted to be ready. It’s a long grind -- seven days -- so I just wanted to be prepared.”
“We put pressure on the other teams on the bases by hitting the ball in the gaps,” Blair said about the team’s offensive output in the tournament.
Pitching might have been even more impressive. The pitching staff allowed only eight earned runs in 75 innings pitched, giving them a 0.75 earned run average and a 0.96 WHIP. They were dominant on the mound, collecting 117 strikeouts while surrendering just 38 hits.
“Our pitching staff threw really well this tournament,” Blair said. “They really kept us in the ball games and then we came in and hit the ball.”
Southpaw Logan Allen was named one of two tournament MVPitchers. The North Carolina kid threw an astonishing ten no-hit innings in the tournament, collecting 21 strikeouts and walking just two batters.
The 6-foot-2 lefty threw a complete game no-hitter in a 6-0 win against Team Citius Washington. He tallied 13 punchouts, throwing 60 of his 84 pitches for strikes. Six of his 13 strikeouts were looking. Allen had six three-up-three-down innings and struck out the side in the third and the seventh inning.
“I didn’t quite know it was (a no-hitter) until the last inning when someone mentioned it,” said Allen. “It was an exciting feeling and it was good to know that I was a big reason to help my team win.”
It may not have been Allen’s first no-hitter, but he said it was definitely the biggest stage he’s thrown one on.
“I spent a lot of time before the game thinking about what I was coming out to do,” Allen said. “Everything kinda went in its place. I didn’t wanna let my teammates down.”
“I came on the mound knowing I had the best defense behind me. I just came out there, threw strikes, hit my spots, and it all turned out well,” Allen said. “I had some amazing plays from our right fielder, Darius (Hill). Yesterday he made a diving catch to help save the game.”
Allen, a newer member of the Evoshield Canes organization, said him and his team accomplished exactly what they knew they could accomplish this week.
“We came into this tournament knowing what we had to do and we had the talent to do it. We have the best players around. We have the best coaches around,” said Allen. “Some of these guys have been here previous years and the guys that came in, we wanted to win it for ‘em.”
The Evoshield Canes 16u defeated Elite Baseball Training, 12-4, to advance to the championship game. Hunter Taylor went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in the game. Hill collected two doubles and two RBI batting in the seventh spot.
“All we wanted to do was come out here and win and, lucky enough, we did that,” Allen said.
Their counterpart, the Evoshield Canes North, had an almost equally impressive run at the championship, going 11-0 before falling in the championship game.
They outscored their opponents, 57-25, in their tournament run. The pitching staff threw 84 innings, surrendering just 17 earned runs (1.42 ERA) while posting a 1.10 WHIP.
Connor Eason stood out amongst the star-studded staff, earning two wins on the mound. The southpaw hurled 13 innings without giving up an earned run. He struck out 12 hitters while giving up just four hits and three walks. He was named co-MVPitcher.
Eason threw six shutout innings against the Carolina Cubs 16u Blue on Thursday. He gave up just three hits and struck out seven.
“It was hot. I was sweatin’ bullets,” Eason said. “I felt like all my stuff was working and I just got through it.”
“I have my teammates to thank for everything,” Eason said. “(They’re the) best defensive team I’ve been around.”
When asked what his approach is on the mound, the young 6-foot-3 lefty gave a big league answer.
“It’s different with every different hitter. I’ll mix it up as best I can, not throw too many fastballs, and pick at the corners.”
Evoshield was well represented in the 2013 16u WWBA National Championship game. The players are appreciative of the program they play for.
“The coaches are amazing – best coaches, I think, in the country,” said Blair. “They do a really good job with us. They get us prepared and it showed.”
“They brought me in just like the family thing they said it is,” Allen said. “It’s a fantastic team to play on – some really good guys and amazing ballplayers.”
“The best part for me is not only are they really good players, but they’re really good kids,” Conner said. “I enjoy being around them. They do what you ask. They give you everything they’ve got and they enjoy playing the game."