Tournaments : : Story
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Home Plate's hard work paying off

Matt Rodriguez        
EMERSON, Ga. – They say hard work pays off, and Home Plate Dyal is the real life example of that at the WWBA 14u National Championship, where they’ve gotten off to a 6-0 start in pool play after a run rule win Tuesday over the All American Prospects.

A team that’s played together for the last four years is showing everyone that strong team chemistry can trump everything else on the baseball field. Home Plate scored nine runs in their 9-1 win Tuesday afternoon thanks to excellent pitching, sound defense, and timely hitting from Drew Martin.

Tre Douglas and Mason Meyer teamed up to throw a six-inning two-hit ballgame, allowing only one unearned run and combining for four strikeouts. Martin, who went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, an RBI, and two runs scored, carried the big stick for Home Plate in Tuesday’s win.

“We came out and knew we needed to win,” said head coach Mike Dyal. “Everybody’s trying to win a pool here, so we knew we needed to win. We knew the Prospects had a good team. It was a very good ballgame. The score might not indicate what kind of ballgame it was, but it was a well-played ballgame.”

'Dominant' is the first word that comes to mind when trying to best describe Home Plate’s strong start in the WWBA 14u National Championship. They’ve outscored opponents 48-5, recording two shutouts along the way.

The team has compiled a .306 batting average (45-for-147) with three hitters hitting .400 or better with at least ten at-bats. Martin has led the offensive charge at the plate, going 10-for-16 (.625 avg.) with two doubles, a triple, 11 runs scored, an a jaw-dropping .727 on-base percentage.

“We’re performing well,” Dyal said. “We’ve worked hard all year and we’ve actually worked hard to be at this tournament. We won the Georgia region in the Super25, so we’re excited about that. We’ve worked hard all year. I have a couple of kids who are hot this week, which always helps, and our pitching’s been outstanding.”

‘Outstanding’ doesn’t even begin to describe the quality pitching Dyal has gotten out of his Home Plate staff. Through 37 innings of work, nine pitchers have combined for a 0.76 earned run average (ERA). The defense certainly hasn’t slacked either, tallying an impressive .965 fielding percentage.

“Defense and pitching’s carried us a long ways,” said Dyal. “We got some clutch hits along the way, but our strengths are mainly our pitching and our defense.”

It’s also worth mentioning this particular team, plus or minus a few players, has been together for nearly four years.

“I added two kids to it this year, but for four years I’ve basically had the same group and we’ve worked hard for four years,” Dyal said. “We’ve done a lot of speed and agility. We’ve done a lot of weightlifting and I think team unity has carried us a long way.”

The Home Plate Chilidogs organization has been around for 11 years and has built quite a notable reputation in the greater-Atlanta area after a number of impressive finishes in Perfect Game tournaments and numerous alumni ho have gone on to play college or professional baseball.

“Home Plate program’s a good program,” said Dyal. “We’re running about 28 to 30 teams out of it right now from 7 up to 18-years-old. I’ve been associated with Home Plate now for about seven years. The instructors are awesome. We’ve got some former pro players that do the instruction, so that’s awesome.”

The program operates at a facility in Peachtree City, Ga. and plays it’s home games on a turf field, similar to the playing surface at Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint.

While it definitely benefits the players to receive instruction from some of the game’s best and at premium facilities, what they are teaching is just as important as who is teaching.

“Home Plate tries to preach teamwork and family, while working on effort and attitude,” Dyal said. “We respect the game of baseball and we teach the game of baseball. It’s a team organization. We practice together on one field, so everybody helps everybody. We always try to teach ahead and try to stay ahead of the game and just play the game and enjoy it.”

While Home Plate Dyal currently sits atop its pool, tomorrow’s matchup with the Dunwoody, Ga.-based DSB Diablos Gold 14u Major will determine who advances out of Pool C and on to bracket play.

The Diablos are 5-0-1, needing a win to advance out of pool play, while Home Plate, at 6-0, need a win or a tie to advance.

The two will meet on Field 13 at Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint on Wednesday at 12:30 in what promises to be one of the more intriguing matchups of the final day of pool play.

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