2004 WWBA 07 Grads/15U National Championship
Championship Game Summary
NOR CAL DEFEATS ATLANTA BLUE JAYS TO WIN WWBA 15U NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
(Marietta, GA): Nor Cal rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the underdog Atlanta Blue Jays 3-2 in the Championship Game of the World Wood Bat Association 15U National Championship Sunday afternoon.
Atlanta led 2-0 going into the 5th inning of the final behind the pitching of RHP Mike Port, the defense of 3B Matt Simonds and the hitting and base running of CF Chase Blackwell.
SS Connor Coleman singled over the left fielder’s head with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the 7th inning to account for the winning run for Nor Cal. Pinch hitter Kyle Blair, who was later named the Tournament Most Valuable Player, had led off the inning with a double. After Blair advanced to third on a wild pitch, the Blue Jays chose to intentionally walk the bases loaded to set up a potential force play.
The last pitch ending to the championship game wrapped up an especially exciting playoff round.
The Blue Jays finished pool play as the #6 seed. They defeated the #2 ranked East Cobb Astros in the quarterfinals 7-4 in a 10 inning tie breaker, then edged the undefeated #3 seeded Miami Maniacs in the semifinals 3-1.
Nor Cal’s, the #4 seed, path to the finals also included an extra inning thriller. They defeated #5 seed Carolina Copperheads in the quarterfinals 8-0 behind Blair’s 1 hitter, then beat the #1 seeded East Cobb Aztecs 6-2 in 9 innings.
The Nor Cal/East Cobb Aztec contest featured one of the top pitching duals of this or any other WWBA event. The Aztecs started RHP Michael Main; Nor Cal RHP Erik Goeddel. Main pitched 6 innings, striking out 9 while pitching between 89 and 93 mph with a 75 mph curveball. Goeddel didn’t throw as hard, “only” 87 to 90 mph, but had a nasty breaking ball and struck out 14 in 7 innings. A 6th inning double by Nor Cal 1B Evan Ellison scored 2 runs to bring back Nor Cal from a 2-0 deficit and a squeeze bunt by Blair in the 9th plated the lead run. Blair also picked up the win with 2 scoreless innings of relief.
Blair took an unusual route to the Most Valuable Player Award. He’d only thrown 1 inning and had 3 at bats entering the playoffs but went 2-0 with 7 shutout innings on the mound, had a perfect game winning squeeze bunt in the semifinals and scored the winning run after pinch hit double in the final game. Blair is a 6-2 athlete from the 2007 Class who throws 84 mph.
The Most Valuable Pitcher Award was shared between Goeddel and South Florida Stars RHP Michael Gibson. Gibson was recognized because of his unprecedented 18 strikeout performance during pool play. Gibson struck out the final 12 hitters of his 7 inning complete game victory, utilizing an 83-87 mph fastball and exceptionally hard biting 73 mph curveball.