Tournaments | Story | 7/12/2013

SF Elite Squad hopes to prevail

Sam Brazenas        
Photo: Perfect Game

MARIETTA, Ga. – A tough loss tends to spark a fire in a team, and they come back twice as hard. SF Elite Squad - Louisville Slugger 16u hopes this is the case for them in the WWBA 16u National Championship.

I tell these guys ‘it’s the way you respond to adversity,’” said head coach Richie Palmer. “Hopefully our team can go out and respond after this loss.”

An intense sixth inning led to SF Elite’s 5-4 defeat on Friday against East Cobb Pride. SF Elite was down 4-1 in the top of the sixth inning. A single from Julian Infante put him and Zack Kone in scoring position for Roman Gonzalez, who drove in Kone with a single to left field. A hard ground ball from David Villar and a sacrifice fly from Robert Montes drove in two more runs for SF Elite, tying up the game.

Unfortunately for SF Elite, a two out, solo home run from Brent Burgess in the bottom of the sixth gave East Cobb Pride a one-run lead they wouldn't relinquish.

There’s going to be bumps in the road,” explained Palmer. “There’s going to be tough losses (and) there’s going to be tough moments where either we’re not playing well or we have a team hit a home run in the last inning. That stuff happens.

I’m happy that they came back and they fought back hard but this is a learning lesson, it can make us better. We’re hoping that somebody slips up along the way. If we take care of business, (if) the team that just beat us loses at some point, and if we win out then we still have a chance. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”

SF Elite out-hit East Cobb Pride 8-2. Andrew Gottfried had three of SF Elite’s eight hits, hitting three singles. Infante also racked up two clutch singles this game.

I just dropped some balls in and it worked out (but it) wasn’t enough to win the game,” said Infante.

SF Elite just placed third a couple weeks ago in the 2013 16u Perfect Game BCS Finals, and are hoping to do even better this tournament.

It was tough,” said Infante. “We were doing really well and I thought we had it, I thought we were going to win it all, but it got rained out so we got third place.”

We went 7-0,” added Palmer. “We had seeded third and it got rained out in the playoffs. Our boys played great (though). It was nice to get the metal bats back in our hands. We were hoping to build off the BCS into here but it doesn’t always happen like that.”

As long as SF Elite wins the rest of their pool games, they will still have a shot at making the playoffs. Infante believes his team will prevail as long as they “just come out with more fire (next) time.”

I can bet you one thing,” said Palmer, “guys like Julian will be first to respond (to a loss) emotionally and with his playing to help this team win again. He’s a great kid, great player and he’s ranked on Perfect Game as he deserves to be.”

Infante is ranked No. 38 on the Perfect Game High School Class of 2015 National Rankings, and is ranked No. 5 overall in Florida. He is also recognized as a Perfect Game Underclass First Team All-American.

It’s pretty cool (to be ranked),” said Infante, “I did alright in the showcases, (but) not my best. Hopefully I can go up if I work hard enough.”

Infante, along with teammates Kone, Villar, and Dominic DiCaprio, attended the 2013 Jr. National Showcase that took place in mid-June in Minneapolis, Minn.

It was really fun,” said Infante about his experience at the Jr. National Showcase. “There were a lot of good kids and a lot of talent. Hopefully I can go back next year to the main one.”

This is Infante’s first year with the SF Elite Squad program. He said he loves it so far.

(This is a) good team, (and) good program (with) great coaching. So far I’ve learned we play hard, practice hard, and losing isn’t an option,” said Infante.

There’s a couple kids that played here last year with us on the 15 team,” added Palmer. “But this is a brand new group. I think it’s probably one of the most talented groups we’ve had in our program.”

The SF Elite Squad started their program in 2009. They’ve grown from one single team to seven teams, and is in the process of getting a youth division going.

We’ve been fortunate enough to have some very good players, some very good coaches and win some Perfect Game events and some National Championships, which is what we try and shoot for every summer,” explained Palmer. “But most importantly, we get a lot of kids into school and get them drafted.

That was the reason why we started; not necessarily to go out and win every tournament, but to give kid a platform to go out and get seen.”

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