Tournaments | Story | 7/14/2015

High expectations for Triton Rays

Chris Garcia        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – The Triton Rays out of Montgomery, Ala., came into Monday with an undefeated record of 4-0. They sat atop their pool with 33 runs scored and 11 runs allowed, and were coming off a huge 16-4 win of Home Plate on Sunday afternoon.

The Rays would hope to keep their bats hot coming into to their matchup against the Orlando Scorpions Purple 16u, who were just 1-2 coming into the game. The Scorpions had been unable to score very many runs through their first three games, and were certainly the underdog in this particular game.

If they were the underdog, no one told them, because right out of the gate the Scorpions were playing solid baseball. The Rays starting pitcher, Noah Bryant, came in throwing strikes, but an error by his defense put the Scorpions leadoff man on, who would eventually score by way of wild pitch.

In the third, the defensive mishaps would continue for the Rays, as a misplayed ball in center field allowed a runner to get to third. He was later driven in with a base hit, making the game 2-0. Thanks to a solid start to this game by the Scorpions starting pitcher Logan Brouwer, they were able to ride that 2-0 lead for a little bit until the bottom of the fifth inning.

In the fifth, the Rays’ Hunter Brittain started them off with a leadoff triple that really fired the dugout up. Despite how well the starter for the Scorpions had done – only allowing two hits up to that point – he would be taken out of the game and it was now up to the bullpen to save this lead. Great defense by the Scorpions allowed them to get out of the jam with only one run allowed, but at this point, the Rays were really feeling it. It looked as if a drama-filled final two innings would ensue.

Throughout the course of the game, the Rays middle infield looked very solid, and turned clutch double plays on the drop of a dime. In the sixth, the Scorpions threatened to score, but the rally was foiled by a double play that gave the Rays some momentum. They would begin the bottom of the sixth inning with a bunt for a single, putting the tying run on first. That runner advanced with a hit batter, and then later scored to tie it up due to a passed ball.

That passed ball was huge, as it moved the leading run to third as well. A fielder’s choice would score that runner, making the score 3-2, and the Rays now had the lead in a back-and-forth contest.

Rays reliever, Nick Boothe, looked as if he was going to close this one out for the win, but with two outs in the top of the seventh inning the Scorpions mustered up some late inning magic. Boothe allowed a couple of base hits, putting the tying and leading runs in scoring position. The Scorpions’ Sam Koruschak came up in a big spot and delivered with a towering double to left field that cleared the bases and gave them the lead.

The Rays would eventually get out of this inning down 4-3. In the bottom of the seventh the Rays made things interesting by getting a runner to third base with two outs, but they would not be able to bring him in and would suffer their first loss of the tournament.

The Rays as a whole feel that they can play a lot better than they did today, and with the mid-tournament arrival of the talented Luke Berryhill, they definitely have a good chance of bouncing back on Tuesday. Berryhill couldn’t make much of a difference in this game, going 0-for-3, but he looks to settle back in and could be a real force in this Triton Rays offense.

I think from here on out, we just need to make the routine plays and keep a cool head,” said Berryhill after the game.

Berryhill, a Georgia Southern commit, is one of the top catching prospects in the country and was just recently announced as a Perfect Game All-American on Monday afternoon. He is set to compete at Petco Park in the All-American Classic on August 16, and like anybody else who has been named to this exclusive list, he is ecstatic.

I flipped out when I found out I was selected,” Berryhill said of his initial response. “It was awesome, I couldn’t believe it. My expectations for that game are simple; to go out there and try to get hits, have no passed balls, and throw people out. I also want to have fun as well.”

Berryhill’s credentials are quite impressive behind the plate, and when you see his tools in live action, you can see why he was selected to play amongst the best players in the nation. At the PG National Showcase he was really able to show scouts his true ability, which was a big factor in his selection process.

The showcase was awesome,” said the soft-spoken Berryhill. “I hit pretty good, had a good pop time and caught good.”

Berryhill was able to show impressive speed at the showcase for a catcher, running a 6.77 60-yard dash, which is a magnificent time for a catcher. He was able to register a 1.77 pop time and throw 80 mph behind the plate.

The Head Coach of the Triton Rays, Tyler Courson, has only had Berryhill for this summer, but he can already see why he is one of the highest rated players in the country.

This is our first summer with him, and he’s improved drastically so far,” Coach Courson said. “His pop time has gotten a lot better, his stick has gotten a lot better, and he has a good chance to play at a high level. His work ethic really separates him. He’s always getting after it, always in the weight room and cages. The kid never stops working.”

The Rays hope to get it going on Tuesday as pool play begins to come to a close, and there’s no doubt they will give their best effort, seeing as they have been consistently successful at PG tournament events this summer.

The Rays finished as the runners-up at this year’s 17u PG/East Cobb Invitational, a tournament in which Berryhill was named to the All-Tournament Team. Plus, their 18u squad just finished with a very good showing at the 18u WWBA National Championship, also finishing as the runner-up, while they also made the playoffs at last week's 17u WWBA National Championship.

Coach Courson feels that his team is going to need to cut down to the mistakes if they want to live up to the expectations that their 17u and 18u teams have set for them this summer.

We just have to make the routine plays. We gave up two or three unearned runs in today’s game and that was the difference in the game. We have to fix that moving forward.”

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