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Tournaments | Championship | 10/27/2014

Canes wear 2nd World crown

Jeff Dahn     
Photo: Perfect Game

JUPITER, Fla. – The group of elite prospects brought together for the stated purpose of winning as many Perfect Game national championships in a given summer/fall season as possible has done it again, and this most recent title will give everyone a little something to talk about over the winter months.

The EvoShield Canes, one of the most dominant programs in the country over the past three seasons, brought thunder and lightning to Roger Dean Stadium under a sunny, bright blue sky Monday afternoon, and beat the equally impressive Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team, 8-2, in the championship game at the 16th annual PG WWBA World Championship.

This is the second straight PG WWBA World Championship title won by the Canes and comes after the organization also won the PG WWBA 16u National Championship and 17u Perfect Game World Series in 2013, and the PG WWBA 17u National Championship this summer (it finished second at this year’s 17u PG World Series).

“These guys just have a knack for winning. We’ve only lost three baseball games the entire year and we’ve played since June,” an extremely pleased Canes head coach and general manager Jeff Petty said among all the on-field postgame congratulations and picture-taking. “They just know how to win and I can’t say enough about them … this group of kids just going out there and competing and being able to score runs when we need it, getting the big hit.

“They pitch and play defense – we pitched and played defense all week – and we got big hits when we needed to. This group of kids is just a special group.”

Brad Debo, a 2016 catcher from Durham, N.C., and a South Carolina commit ranked No. 33 nationally, had an RBI double in the first inning and topped that with a three-run double in the fifth to pace the Canes in the championship game. Xavier LeGrant was 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBI and two runs scored and Ryan Karstetter was 2-for-3 with a couple of runs scored.

Dakota Chalmers, a 2015 right-hander out of Gainesville, Ga., and a Georgia commit ranked 136th nationally, worked the first five innings for the Canes (8-0-0) and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out nine. 2015 right-hander Evan Sperling, a Virginia commit from Poquoson, Va., ranked 88th, worked two shutout innings, striking out three.

After falling behind 3-0, the Scorpions/Mets (7-1-0) scored their only two runs in the bottom of the second when they loaded the bases with a hit batsman and singles from Cody Brickhouse and Ramon Alejo, and then plated two runs on a wild pitch and a passed ball to cut the Canes’ lead to 3-2 at the time.

Over eight games at this tournament, Debo hit .286 (6-for-21) with nine RBI and four runs scored. He was at his best, however, in the Canes’ four playoff wins, hitting .364 (4-for-11) with the two championship game doubles, seven RBI and three runs scored. He was named the Most Valuable Player.

“This has been crazy,” Debo said. “This is the first time that I’ve played with these guys – I played a couple of games with them last weekend – but I came in and I knew my role; I came in to help out because they were down a catcher and they needed me. I’m just glad to be here and help the team win games.”

Debo said he first felt the Canes might be on their way to something special after they blanked the Richmond Braves, 12-0, in their first playoff game Sunday afternoon. “Everything started going our way, we caught all the breaks and … we hit the ball; the pitching was outstanding. Nic threw a gem last night with 14 K’s … and everything came together.”

He was referring to a spectacular performance from 2015 right-hander Nic Enright who threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts and no walks at the Texas Scout Team Yankees in Sunday night’s quarterfinals.

Petty used 13 pitchers over the eight games and they combined to give up five earned runs on 26 hits over 52 innings (0.63 ERA) with 76 strikeouts and 22 walks. The staff included Perfect Game All-Americans Ashe Russell and Beau Burrows.

“I love it; I can’t get enough of it,” Debo said of the experience of handling such an elite pitching staff. “I mean, if a dude is throwing 90-94 (mph) and he can command with three pitches, you can’t get better than that; that’s awesome.”

The Canes hit .284 as a team against some of the best age-group pitching in the world, with 15 extra-base hits scattered among their 42 singles.

“We swung the bat pretty well down here and last year we didn’t swing the bat well at all,” Petty said. “This is a good hitting team and to go with the pitching staff that we have, it took some pressure off our pitching staff when we can put some runs up.”

KARSTETTER SMACKED AN RBI DOUBLE AND LEGRANT ADDED A RUN-SCORING SINGLE in a three-run fourth inning that erased a 2-1 deficit, and the Canes went on to a 6-2 win over Palm Beach County PAL in one of the semifinal games played Monday morning.

Left-hander Logan Allen came on in relief of Russell in the third inning and worked five precise innings without allowing a run on four hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Russell threw the first two innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits without a strikeout and one walk.

The Canes took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single from Karstetter but PBC PAL came back with two in the bottom of the inning thanks to an RBI groundout from Hunter Bowling and an unearned run that scoreD on a fielding error. The Canes took control with their three-run fourth and Danny Blair put an exclamation point on the win with a two-run home run in the top of the seventh.

The Scorpions/Mets and GBG Marucci were involved in an epic pitchers’ duel in the other semifinal before Scorpions/Mets PG All-American Brendan Rodgers delivered an RBI double in the top of the 10th inning to break a scoreless tie. A batter later, PG All-American Kep Brown came through with an RBI single and Orlando held on for the 2-0, 10-inning win.

2015 left-hander Tyler Holton got the start for the Scorpions/Mets and worked seven shutout innings, allowing four hits while striking out nine and walking one. 2016 righty Tyler Baum picked up the win after pitching three scoreless innings in relief of Holton, allowing a couple of hits, striking out three and walking no one.

“I was just trying to keep my team in it; just trying to put up zeroes as much as I could,” Holton said. “I knew I had a good defense behind me and so I was trying to get ground balls and let them make plays and they certainly did.”

It was Holton’s second appearance at the tournament, and although he finished with two no-decisions, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Florida State recruit from Tallahassee was very good. He didn’t allow a run on five hits over 10 innings, struck out 13 and walked one, and was named the Most Valuable Pitcher.

“This was one of the best baseball experiences that I’ve ever had,” Holton said. “Coming and playing with the Orlando Scorpions and representing the Mets organization, it was an experience of a lifetime.”

2015 right-hander Christopher Collins was handed the ball by GBG manager Mike Garciaparra to make the start and responded with six shutout innings, allowing two hits, striking out eight and walking one.

2015 righty Logan Gillaspie and ’15 lefty Oxnevad combined to pitch the next three, three-hit shutout innings before the Scorpions/Mets finally got to 2015 right-hander Austin Rubick for two runs on three hits and two walks in the 10th.

The eight-team quarterfinal field was somewhat predictable, with the exception of PAL. Palm Beach was one of three teams from Florida (the Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team and the Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler were the others). The rest of the final eight came from California (GBG Marucci), Virginia (EvoShield Canes), Texas (Texas Scout Team Yankees), Louisiana (Marucci Elite) and Georgia (Team Elite Prime).

Palm Beach PAL’s rousing 4-0 win over the Cards/FTB Chandler stood out as the biggest upset of the round.

Winning back-to-back championships at the PG WWBA World Championship – referred to at different times as the Super Bowl or the Daytona 500 of the amateur baseball world – would be enough for most organizations to hang their hats on. That’s just not the case for the EvoShield Canes.

“We’ll take a breather and try to enjoy this one,” Petty said. “Next year we’ll try to put something together to try to do it again but right now I’m just going to really enjoy this one with these kids. But, yeah, there’s no question we’re going to try to put another team on the field to try to do this again; we’re always trying to do that.”

2014 WWBA World Championship runner-up: Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team

2014 WWBA World Championship third-place team: GBG Marucci

2014 WWBA World Championship third-place team: Palm Beach PAL

2014 WWBA World Championship Most Valuable Player: Brad Debo, EvoShield Canes

2014 WWBA World Championship Most Valuable Pitcher: Tyler Holton, Orlando Scorpions/Mets Scout Team

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