All American Game | Story | 7/4/2015

Tuck, Canes eye championship

Chris Garcia        
Photo: Perfect Game

WOODSTOCK, Ga. – It’s been a busy summer thus far, and many teams are starting to feel the wear and tear of the heat and games played, but for teams competing in the 2015 17u WWBA National Championship, there will be no time to lick any wound. The time has arrived to begin pool play for this year’s National Championship tournament, and many teams are feeling the adrenaline of that first set of games.

Some teams are just happy to be here and compete against some of the top talent in the world, and some teams came with only one goal in mind; win the whole thing. It’s a long shot, but you have to come in with the mentality that you’re capable of doing well here or you will get eaten alive. From teams that have rosters with all college commitments to teams who have none, anyone has a chance to win any game in such an unpredictable game like baseball.

The teams who are more tenured at these types of events – like East Cobb Baseball, Team Elite and FTB – are not going to settle for anything less than a deep playoff run, but there is always a chance that an underdog crashes the party and spoils it.

One team who won’t be overlooking any of their opponents is the EvoShield Canes. With that mentality, it is no surprise that they were the champions of this event last year, and it doesn’t hurt that literally every single player on their roster has committed to a Division I school or is dealing with an overflow of offers. This is quite simply an absurd collection of talent that includes rising seniors from the West Coast spanning to the East.

Head Coach Jeff Petty and his team of coaches over at the Evoshield headquarters in Virginia do an amazing job of recruiting these young men, but to them, it’s as simple as just identifying the best talent and asking them to play for them.

We try to find players that are professional prospects and if they fit into what we need, we ask them to come play for us,” said Coach Petty. “If it’s a fit for both parties, then it works out.”

The Canes would get their 2015 WWBA National Championship campaign underway against the SJ Elite. Spectators from all over the East Cobb complex gravitated to this game, and by the time the first pitch was being thrown, there were hundreds of people there. The atmosphere certainly provided a high level of intensity, as if it wasn’t intense enough already, but like a true reigning champion, the Canes stayed calm and collected.

Right from the start, the Canes showed why they were the defending champs by making not one, but two ridiculously challenging infield plays to get out of the first inning and let their bats get to work.

Compared to last year’s championship team, Coach Petty feels that this team isn't quite as strong when it comes to dominant pitching. However, it would be hard to top last year's special unit of arms that included PG All-Americans Beau Burrows and Ashe Russell, who were named the co-Most Valuable Pitchers of th event, as well as lefthander Logan Allen.

Given that their pitching staff stole the show with game after game of lights out pitching, there wasn't as much of a necessity for the bats to put up big numbers on a day-by-day basis. However, this year could be different, although his club did blank SJ Elite in an 8-0 victory to open pool play on Friday and then picked up a second win against Gatorball Baseball Academy by a score of 5-1.

I think offensively, we have more prospects than we had last year,” Petty said of his lineup. “On the mound, it’s not as much. We had fours guys drafted in the first round off of last year’s club, so it’s going to be hard to repeat that. We don’t have that per se, but I think we are deeper on the mound.

There’s not a lot of difference between our ace and our 10th guy. Nothing against the guys we do have this year, but I guess we will see if any of these guys can step up and rise to the occasion. I think that what we may be missing on the mound could be made up for with our bats.”

Someone who may be of service to the Canes is top prospect and San Diego State commit, Avery Tuck. Tuck, who is going into his senior year at Steele Canyon High School, just received the announcement of his life the other night. Tuck had the fortunate opportunity to be the first one named to the Perfect GameAll-American Classic. He will now join an elite company of players that have played in high school baseball's elite all-star style event, including established big league stars such as Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper, as well as emerging ones including Carlos Correa, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant.

The Classic is scheduled for Sunday, August 16 at Petco Park and it will be the 13
th annual edition of this prestigious event. While Tuck, as well as fellow San Diego native Mickey Moniak, were already announced to be participating in this year's Classic, the rest of the squad will be unveiled on Monday, July 13 as part of a Selection Show streamed on MLB.com.

Coach Petty feels that Tuck is well deserving of this honor.

Tuck is a guy that we are happy to have picked up. He brings something to this team that not a lot of guys can bring and we hope that he can just play to his ability and have himself a nice week.”

Tuck feels that he can bring a hot bat and some speedy base running to this already loaded EvoShield Canes team. Tuck is the fourth-ranked player in the country for the 2016 class, and the No. 1 ranked outfielder and position prospect. Coming into the PG National Showcase, Tuck was slightly unknown as far as top 10 overall prospects are concerned, but he really shot up after he displayed an enormous amount of power. He showed a 93 mph arm from the outfield, and scouts really feel like he is a true five-tool player.

Joining him on the Canes' roster are seemingly countless other elite players from the 2016 class including Joe Rizzo, Nicholas Quintana, and Dion Henderson. Tuck hopes to stand out and help the Canes repeat at the 2015 17u WWBA National Championship this week after exploding onto the scene in the month of June.

Being selected is awesome,” Tuck said of the honor of being selected to play in the PG All-American Classic. “I’ve never been a part of anything like this. It’s gonna be amazing and a lot of fun.

The National Showcase was big for me. I’ve never done something as big as that showcase, and it was honor being there. I had a lot of fun. I was just relaxed and before the game I was just working on keeping my swing fluid. Going into the Classic, I just wanna do what I did at the National Showcase.”

Tuck, a San Diego resident, has grown up with the PG All-American Classic being played in his backyard, and even as a young player, he remembers watching past players before him compete in this highly respected event.

I’ve heard a lot about the game and watched a couple of guys go through it, like Bryce Harper and what not. My dad and I, we always follow the game and luckily I got invited.”

Even though Tuck is excited for the Classic, he is the kind of player that doesn’t let accolades cloud his focus. He is ready to contribute to this Canes team in any way possible, and feels that this team has a real chance to win it all again. And he did his part on Friday, going 2-for-3 with a double, a sacrifice fly, two walks, two runs scored, two stolen bases and four driven in the Canes' two victories to open the tournament.

I just want to do what I can for the team and hopefully get another championship.”

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