Tournaments | Story | 6/15/2015

Sun Devils demolish competition

Chris Garcia        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – Monday's round of ballgames was to be played in what could possibly be the hottest day of the summer so far. Temperatures were nearly reaching triple digits, and not even shade could get you away from the heat. As the weather heats up so are the Academy Select Sun Devils out of Dallas, Texas.

The Sun Devils have handily beaten each of their first four opponents in pool play by a combined score of 33-1. The Sun Devils picked up competition today at the LakePoint complex in Emerson, Ga., against the Grand Slam Blue Rocks. The Blue Rocks did not have much luck in this contest, as the game was cut short by a run rule after the fourth inning. The game ended with a final score of 14-0.

The Blue Rocks faced the ever-so-challenging task of trying to keep these Sun Devil hitters at bay, and the game got off to a promising start as they were able to hold the offense to only one run. The next inning would not go as well for the Blue Rocks, as the Sun Devils got off to a hot start and immediately started rocking the Blue Rocks’ starter.

It seemed as if everything that the Sun Devils hit was hit hard, regardless of whether it was fair or foul. And it's a team that you do not want to give extra bases to because they will make you pay. They put an extreme amount of pressure on a pitcher when they are occupying the basepaths, and it seems as if almost everyone in the line-up has the speed to beat out a routine ground ball.

The second inning was the turning point in this game, seeing as though they put up a surprising 10 runs and hit through the order almost twice. Almost every hitter in the lineup contributed to this monster inning, but possibly none had more of an impact in this inning and game than third baseman Kade Clemens.

Early in the inning, Kade showed that he could pull the ball a long way if you miss up in the zone against him and had a towering base hit that bounced off the wall. The Blue Rocks had their fair share of wild throws and errors that helped the Sun Devils pile up runs, but that is not to take away from the outstanding hitting performance that they showed as a team today.

Clemens wasn't finished in the second inning after his base hit that almost left the park. However, during his next time up he did go yard. After the Sun Devils lineup batted all the way through, Clemens stepped up to the plate and took a ferocious swing that connected with a belt-high fastball. This ball was crushed, but he still was not done, adding a base hit up the middle later in the game leaving him 3-for-3 on the day.

Today I was seeing the pitches real well,” exclaimed a vibrant Clemens. “I saw a fastball out his hand, got my foot down early, and it really paid off. In the cages I was just sticking with the same routine I always have. I wanted to make sure I stayed within myself.”

Clemens hasn’t received much attention from college recruiters yet, but if he keeps up his hot hitting and defensive prowess, then he is sure to garner some attention.

The pitching in this game played a relatively small role, seeing as they only played four innings, but the pitchers who did throw did a very good job of putting zeros on the board. There were three different pitchers for the Sun Devils in this game, which shows they have the pitching to go deep into this year’s 16u WWBA National Championship Qualifier.

Our team mindset going into this tournament was to do the best that we could do and to control the things that we can control,” said Clemens. “Over the course of a ballgame there are a lot of things that are out of your control, but if you stay within yourself and play the way you’ve been taught to play, then things will be alright. It would be big for us to win this tournament so we can earn our spot in the WWBA at Lakepoint in the upcoming weeks.”

Today’s game was a Pennsylvania vs. Texas matchup, which is always intriguing considering a lot of the teams that have competed in tournaments thus far are from the Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee areas. This team from Texas showed spectators that they mean business, and are poised to make a run at the championship trophy. Last year they came close to winning a WWBA National Championship, coming in third, but this year they look to have a great chance to win it all.

Head Coach Linty Ingram has had a few of the core guys on this team with him for about six years and all of the Sun Devils are from areas around the Dallas area. The Sun Devils have experienced much success in Texas tournaments and they are pleased with the start that they have had in the 2015 16u WWBA National Championship Qualifier. Coach Ingram was very satisfied with his boys’ performance on Monday and looks to them to raise their level of play as they enter the playoffs.

Pitching will be huge for us moving forward,” Ingram said after the game. “We usually swing it pretty good, but we fall short on pitching. This summer we went out and got some more pitchers and we feel good about the staff and bullpen that we have put together. I try to teach these guys to take care of what they can control; to take care of the little things and show maturity on the field.

We expect that from them and demand that from them, and they're dedicated to playing winning baseball.”

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