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Tournaments | Championship | 1/19/2015

16u, 14u PG MLK champs crowned

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

AZ T-Rex Baseball Club slugs its way to 16u PG MLK title

GLENDALE, Ariz. – AZ T-Rex Baseball Club wasn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut during the championship game at the 16u Perfect Game MLK Championship, played Monday afternoon at Camelback Ranch Stadium. A collective two hits usually doesn’t cause any more of a reaction then the shrug of some shoulders and the rolling of some eyes.

These, however, were two hits packed with a lot of punch.

Blake Paugh smashed a grand slam into the bullpen in deep left field in the bottom of the first inning and Connor McCord delivered a two-run single in a four-run bottom of the fourth, and AZ T-Rex Baseball Club out of nearby Scottsdale put them to good use in an 8-0, five-inning victory over the San Diego Show.

Nine members of this T-Rex BC team, including Paugh, were members of the T-Rex squad that won the 2013 14u PG MLK Championship. They weren’t as successful at the 16u level in 2014 but came in this time a year older and more than eager to take home another championship.

“Our guys were really ready for this tournament,” AZ T-Rex Baseball Club owner and head coach Rex Gonzalez said after the win. “I think they were really looking for toward this – I’d say about a month or so ago they really started looking forward to playing in the MLK.

“Being fortunate to win it two years ago, they believed in themselves that they could do it, and they came out and played well.”

The Show (5-1-0) looked more than capable of giving the T-Rexers (6-0-0) a run in the title tilt, but seemed deflated after Paugh’s first inning home run. They could never get anything going against sensational T-Rex 2017 right-hander Boyd Vander Kooi, who allowed only two hits over five efficient innings of work, striking out six and walking one.

Despite being the losing pitcher in the championship game, the Show’s Jose Cerda was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and justifiably so. A 2017 third baseman/right-hander from San Diego, Cerda batted 8-for-11 (.727) with two doubles, a triple, five RBI, four runs scored and a 1.860 OPS in the Show’s six games.

AZ T-Rex BC’s top offensive producers were Scott Mehan, who hit .353 (6-for-17) with two doubles, a home run, six RBI and six runs scored, and Donovan McMullen, who was 4-for-10 (.400) with a double, two RBI, six runs and four stolen bases.

Zane Strand, a 2016 right-hander for T-Rex from Chandler, Ariz., was named the Most Valuable Pitcher. Strand made one start at the event and allowed one earned run on one hit while striking out 15 and walking two.

“We’re pretty fortunate to be able to live in this area,” Gonzalez said of his homegrown group. “The weather has been absolutely phenomenal, the tournament was outstanding, and the competition was very good as it always is at Perfect Game. I just think the guys believed in themselves and believed in what we were doing here.

“You have to tip your caps to the other ball clubs – they played very well – we just ended up on top this time.”

AZ T-Rex wasted little time in disposing of the East Bay Bombers (4-1-0) in Monday’s semifinal round, scoring one run in the first, four in the second and three in the fourth on its way to an 8-0, five-inning victory.

Mehan was 3-for-3 with a double and three RBI and Jacob Gonzalez singled and drove in three runs to pace the T-Rexers. 2016 left-hander Connor McCord threw five, three-hit, shutout innings, striking out one and walking none. Robbie Brue had two of the Bombers’ three hits.

The Show advanced to the title game with an 8-3 win over Riverside, Calif.-based Team Phenom (4-1-0) in the other 16u PG MLK semifinal. The loss was the first for Team Phenom in three Perfect Game tournament appearances – they went a combined 12-0 while winning the 2014 14u PG MLK Championship and PG WWBA 14u West Memorial Day Classic.

The Show enjoyed leads of 3-1 after three innings and 4-3 after four, then put the game away with a pair of runs in each of the fourth and fifth. Zack Praizner was 3-for-4 with two RBI, Hunter Isbell doubled and drove in two runs, Chase Wehsener went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI and Joseph Magrisi was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

2017 Show right-hander Kyle Hurt, a Southern Cal recruit ranked No. 44 nationally, gave up the three runs by scattering 10 hits over seven innings of work, striking out six and walking two. Sean Osceola went 3-for-3 with a double to lead Team Phenom.

So now AZ T-Rex Baseball Club can go about its business through the summer and the fall and look forward to January 2016 when it can come out and try to complete the trifecta by winning an 18u PG MLK Championship.

“I think our guys are pretty committed to our organization, along with the parents – we can’t say enough great things about our families and the whole T-Rex family from the 11u all the way to the 18u,” Gonzalez said. “We’re really a close-knit family and it works well for us, and I think that’s a tribute to what we’re doing here and the good camaraderie that we have, and it seems to work for us right now.”


2015 16u Perfect Game MLK Championship runner-up: San Diego Show



2015 16u Perfect Game MLK Championship MVP: Joe Cerda, San Diego Show



2015 16u Perfect Game MLK Championship MV-Pitcher: Zane Strand, AZ T-Rex Baseball Club




BPA DeMarini stops BPA DeMarini Elite for 14u title

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It took a total team effort for BPA DeMarini from San Juan, Calif., to bounce all the way back from a loss in the second game of pool-play and win the championship at the 14u Perfect Game MLK Championship. But it was two guys on that roster that really carried the day in the championship game itself.

Nathan Church and Dylan Ramirez combined to go 5-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored at the plate, and then combined on seven inning, four-hitter with six strikeouts and five walks to lead BPA DeMarini to a 3-1 victory over its San Juan Capistrano neighbor BPA DeMarini Elite in the title game played Monday on the Los Angeles Dodgers side of the Camelback Ranch spring training complex.

BPA (Baseball Performance Academy) DeMarini (6-1-0), under the direction of head coach Wade Jackson, lost its second pool-play game of the tournament to upstart Team Michigan, but fought back to not only reach the playoffs but outscore its three playoff opponents by a combined 8-2.

“We fought through a little bit of adversity by losing to Team Michigan but I told the boys the ball was in their court the whole way,” Jackson said. “We knew we could get into the playoffs and we knew it was going to be a tough road, but our pitching staff really came through.”

BPA DeMarini Elite (6-1-0) was favorite in the championship game based on seeding but couldn’t come up with anything to counter the one-two punch presented by Church and Ramirez.

Church was terrific both at the plate and from the mound during BPA DeMarini’s six games and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He hit .500 (7-for-14) with two doubles, three RBI, seven runs scored and five stolen bases. He went 2-0 in two pitching appearances and allowed no earned runs on three hits over 8 2/3 innings, striking out 13 and walking five.

The only pitcher on the BPA DeMarini staff that might have been better was 2019 left-hander Michael Marsh, who was named the Most Valuable Pitcher. Marsh also went 2-0, allowed five hits in a 10 1/3 shutout innings, and struck out 12 and walked three.

“They have a lot of heart and it was in their hands; I’m just here to be their guidance,” Jackson said. “They’re the ones going out and playing and I’m going to what I can for them, but they showed heart in the way they battled back.”

BPA DeMarini reached the championship game after Benjamin Ziv came through with an RBI double in the top of the ninth that proved to be the game-winner and it held on for a 2-1 win over SY Titans (5-1-0) out of Santa Ynez, Calif., in one of the semifinals played Monday morning.

DeMarini had taken a 1-0 lead on a run-scoring triple from Jared Thomas in the top of the third inning --
Ziv and Thomas each had two hits in the game. The Titans tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when they pushed across a run when a batter grounded into a double-play.

DeMarini 2019 right-hander Garrett Runyan threw seven, six-hit innings, allowing one earned run, striking out four and walking one. 2018 left-hander Nathan Church worked the last two frames without allowing a baserunner and striking out four.

The Titans’ 2018 right-hander allowed one earned run on six hits over five innings, striking out eight and walking four. 2019 righty Javier Felix threw the last four innings, and Ziv’s double was the only hit he allowed; he struck out four and walked one.

“Having to get through the (SY) Titans, who I can’t tell you how many times we’ve played – David (Lawrence) always has a great team and we play all the time – and then to have to play (BPA DeMarini), we knew it was going to be tough, but the boys fought through it.”

Chad Call had an RBI single and BPA DeMarini Elite scored two unearned runs as part of a three-run bottom of the fifth, and Elite rallied for a 3-1 win over the Chino (Calif.) Aces (4-1-1), in the other semifinal play Monday morning.

2019 right-hander Hunter Cranton threw a complete game six-hitter for Elite, allowing one earned run while striking out six and walking four.

The Aces’ 2019 righy Brandon Chalk was even better, allowing just one earned run on two hits after six innings of work, striking out five and walking two. Colin Barber smacked a pair of singles, including one that drove in the Aces’ only run in the top of the first.

Winning a Perfect Game 14u tournament championship is really just the beginning of what should be a long, happy journey for the BPA DeMarini, and all the other youngsters that took part in the 14u PG MLK Championship the past four days. They can all take something away from the experience.

“I hope they know that they can play the game right and they can play with anybody,” Jackson. “If you pitch and throw strikes and do what you’re supposed to do on defense and play correctly, then things are going to fall in your lap. They know that they can go out and do the job as long as they do what they need to do.”


2015 14u Perfect Game MLK Champions: BPA DeMarini



2015 14u Perfect Game MLK Championship runner-up: BPA DeMarini Elite




2015 14u Perfect Game MLK Championship MVP: Nathan ChurchBPA DeMarini



2015 14u Perfect Game MLK Championship MV-Pitcher: Michael MarshBPA DeMarini

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