FORT MYERS, Fla. – The call came at 11 o’clock Sunday night, and Terry Tate was more than happy to pick up the phone. The coaches and team members of Xtreme Baseball Navy are certainly thrilled that he did.
Tate, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound primary catcher from nearby Lehigh Acres, Fla., and a junior at East Lee County High School, was asked to do something he had never done before: pitch in the championship game of a Perfect Game WWBA tournament. Tate not only answered the phone Sunday night, he also answered the bell Monday afternoon.
The right-handed throwing Tate marched out to the mound and threw a complete game, two-hit shutout with five strikeouts and only one walk, and Xtreme Baseball Navy (4-1-1) danced out of jetBlue Park after a 5-0 victory over the CFL Vipers (5-1) in the championship game at the PG WWBA 16u Labor Day Classic.
“I was really nervous but I just pitched the game of my life,” said Tate, who usually plays for Xtreme Baseball’s 17u team. “Everything was working today – my curve, my splitter and my fastball. Everything was just spot-on.”
Spot-on, indeed. He threw 92 pitches, 58 for strikes (63 percent), a percentage helped by the fact that he threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 25 batters he faced. Tate may have felt some nervousness, but he also felt he had to prove his new coaches and teammates made the right call Sunday night.
“I was actually pretty honored that they called me,” he said. “It made me feel pretty good because they were thinking about me.”
This is a very young team that won the 3rd annual PG WWBA 16u Labor Day Classic. The Xtreme Baseball Navy roster listed eight high school freshmen (class of 2017) among its members, including catcher Giovany Lorenzo from Fort Myers. Lorenzo was 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored in the championship game; Alexis Sensat (2017, Cape Coral, Fla.) was 2-for-3 with two runs.
“This team is very young,” team manager Wilson Lorenzo said. “I have kids in there that are just turning 14 years old … and the pitcher, Tate, he’s 15 years old and he threw a complete game. For somebody like that to come out here – I guess he’s got something in his arm that they couldn’t see.”
Coach Lorenzo could have been referring to the baseball on this particular day. Tate was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher for his efforts on Monday.
The CFL Vipers’ Nicholas Barber, a 2016 shortstop/right-hander from Apopka, Fla., was named the Most Valuable Player. Barber was 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles, three RBI, five runs scored and a 1.282 OPS at the plate and also pitched a six-inning two-hitter in the Vipers’ playoff semifinal-round win.
“It’s a great time every time we come down here and we’re able to play in these events, these tournaments, at these different places,” Barber said, “We always like to think that we can come through the weekend and make it all the way and win when we’re here; we played good all tournament (but) you can’t always win every game.”
In a semifinal game played Monday morning at jetBlue Park, Trevor Cramer (2016, Cape Coral, Fla.) smacked a two-run, go-ahead single in the bottom of the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie, and Xtreme Baseball Navy held on for a 4-2 win over Ostingers Baseball Academy Select 16u (3-2) out of Lithia, Fla.
Right-hander Thaddeus Ward (2015, Fort Myers, Fla.) tossed five innings of two-hit ball without allowing an earned run, striking out six and walking three.
Xtreme limped through pool-play with a 1-1-1 record, but all four teams in Pool J finished with the same record and Xtreme won the championship based on tie-breaker criteria. The Xtremers beat the Hialeah Warriors, 7-5, in a quarterfinal game on Sunday.
“We played that great team from Miami (the Hialeah Warriors) and it was bases loaded and we got out of that, and we scored and they didn’t score and we won the game,” Lorenzo said, talking about the back-and-forth affair. “And then this morning (against Ostingers) we did real well and hit the ball well. And then in (the championship game) a couple of the top hitters on this team didn’t hit the ball well but we came through.”
Barber gave up just two hits, struck out three and walked three to lead the Vipers to an 8-0 win over the New Orleans-based Nola Blue Jays (3-2) in a semifinal game played Sunday night.
Eduardo Velez-Cintron (2015, Orlando) was 3-for-3 with a triple, two RBI and two runs scored, and Joshuan Velazquez (2014, Orlando) went 3-for-3 with a double and three runs to lead CFL’s 10-hit onslaught. Christian Millan (2016, Tampa) drove in a pair of runs for the Vipers.
CFL beat its three pool-play opponents by a combined 25-6 and blanked the Red Raiders Gold 16u, 8-0, in a quarterfinal-round win Sunday afternoon.
“This is a great experience,” Lorenzo said of the tournament as a whole. “It’s a great showcase for these kids and they love this kind of tournament. It’s an aggressive tournament and everybody comes to play hard.”
2013 16u WWBA Labor Day Classic runner-up: CFL Vipers
2013 16u WWBA Labor Day Classic MVP: Nicholas Barber
2013 16u WWBA Labor Day Classic MV-Pitcher: Terry Tate