Tournaments | Story | 7/21/2015

Desert kings: Scorps rule 17u WS

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – The team members of the Orlando Scorpions Prime left their homes in cities scattered all over Florida last week and came together out here in the Arizona desert with the intended purpose of winning a Perfect Game national championship at the preeminent 17u PG World Series.

They were more than 2,000 miles from home and faced with the task of competing against 19 of the other best 17-and-under teams from all across the country, but none of that really mattered. If the history of the Orlando Scorpions organization tells us anything, it’s that once a young prospect slips on the Scorpions’ purple-and-black, it’s almost as if they become invincible.

“It’s like a brotherhood. When they put on that jersey it’s like they’re putting on a service uniform,” Scorpions Prime head coach Jesse Marlo said Tuesday afternoon from the playing field at Goodyear Ballpark, where the surface temperature sat at about 110 degrees. “They wear it with pride and they want to represent it, they want to represent their home towns and also the name on the back of the jersey for their families.”

The fifth-seeded Orlando Scorpions Prime (6-1-0) represented themselves very well Tuesday afternoon during their 5-0, 17u PG World Series championship game victory over No. 6 GMG Marucci (5-2-0) from Los Angeles to claim yet another PG national championship for the elite organization based in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

The outcome was really never in doubt after the Scorps Prime put a four-spot on the board in bottom of the second, thanks to three straight walks; a one-out, two-run, line-drive single off the bat of Spencer Taylor; a one-out RBI bunt single from Alex Ray and an RBI fielder’s choice groundout from Duke commit Chase Creek that scored Taylor. They added an insurance run in the sixth on a pop-fly RBI single off the bat of Carlos A. Cortes, a South Carolina commit.

With all that early run support, 2016 right-hander and Southern Miss commit Cody Carroll pitched relaxed while holding GBG scoreless on one hit over five innings of work; 2016 righty and Florida State recruit Drew Parish allowed just one hit over the final two innings to clinch the win. UC Santa Barbara commit Eric Yang had both of GBG Marucci’s hits in the contest.

Cortes’ bloop RBI single in the championship game was the least impressive thing he did at the plate all week. The Perfect Game All-American was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after going 9-for-21 (.429) with three home runs, two doubles, 10 RBI and five runs scored with a 1.432 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. It’s worth noting he stockpiled those numbers against many of the best 17u pitchers in the country.

“Winning a championship and winning a (PG 17u) World Series with this group of guys is just phenomenal,” Cortes said. “We’re fighters; we don’t give up – we won’t ever give up. This was a great team effort and just a great overall experience.”

The Scorpions Prime started pool-play with a pair of wins but then dropped a 2-1 decision to the Dallas Patriots, always a very tough out. After that setback, the Prime's fourth and final pool-play game against Northwest Baseball became a must-win if they expected to advance to the playoffs.

Marlo handed the ball to Tobias Myers, a South Florida commit out of Winter Haven, Fla., and the 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-hander responded with a complete-game, two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in the Scorps’ 1-0 victory. For that effort alone, Myers was named the Most Valuable Pitcher.

“I wanted go out there and let my team help me and just throw strikes,” he said Tuesday, recalling that all-important outing. “I hadn’t thrown in almost two weeks and I felt really good out there.”

Myers then talked briefly about the bigger picture:

“It’s been great winning this championship,” he said. “There are a lot of pro scouts out here and it’s hot out here, but you just have to keep throwing your game. We fell short (a couple of weeks ago) in Georgia and we wanted to come here and try to win us a (PG national championship) ring in the final tournament of the summer, and we got it.”

Playing under the name Scorpions Prime 17u, this same group was at the 17u PG WWBA National Championship in Emerson, Ga., a couple of weeks ago and finished 6-2-0 after a one-run loss in the second round of the playoffs.

“We left Georgia with a bad taste in our mouth … but luckily for us we seemed to push all the right buttons in this tournament; we got out of some tight jams,” Marlo said. “We had the baseball gods on our side and you need that to win a championship in these kind of events.”

GBG Marucci also lost its third pool-play game of the tournament after a 2-0 start, a 4-1 setback to Florida’s Elite Squad Prime. Like Orlando, it won its fourth pool-play game to gain entry into the playoffs and then recorded quarterfinal and semifinal victories Monday to earn a spot in the championship game. The semifinal victory was 10-2 triumph over the Elite Squad.

Although its bats were silent Tuesday, GBG received nice production from Yang and Oregon commit Spencer Steer throughout the tournament. Steer hit .368 (7-for-19) with a double and five runs scored, and Yang hit .353 (6-for-17) with two doubles, three RBI and two runs.

2016 lefty and Arizona State recruit Chaz Montoya made three appearances on the mound, gave up three earned runs in 7 1/3 innings (2.87 ERA) on seven hits, and struck-out nine and walked three.

In the end, this week belonged to the group from Florida.

“The main thing with these guys is they all trust in their abilities and they believe in themselves and they know what they can do,” Marlo said. “Even if we get down they still have total confidence and they’ve got each other’s back. It’s tough to have a true team in summer ball but this team found a way to come together and really be a team – and be a family – and really want the guy in front of them to do better than themselves.”

In the end, there’s just something special about slipping on that Scorpions’ purple-and-black.

“It’s an honor,” Cortes said. “It’s an honor to play this game and it’s an honor to play it with one of the best organization’s in the country; it’s just great and it’s just an honor.”

CBA Marucci, Dallas Pats settle for tie in 3
rd-place tilt

Top-seeded CBA Marucci and the No. 3 Dallas Patriots agreed to meet in Tuesday’s third-place game at the 17u Perfect Game World Series and then settled for 4-4, six-inning tie in what amounted to the tournament’s loser’s bracket final.

CBA Marucci (5-1-1) scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a commanding lead, and then watched the Patriots (4-2-1) rally for a run in the top of the fifth and three more in the top of the sixth to tie the game. CBA didn’t score in the bottom of the sixth and the result was allowed to stand.

CBA got a pair of two-run, two-out singles from Aaron Greenfield and Garrett Mitchell to take its 4-0, fourth-inning lead. Jordan Wiley delivered an RBI single in the top of the fifth and another one as part of the Pat’s three-run sixth inning; Trevor Paradoski also had a run-scoring single in the sixth.

A trio of CBA 2016 right-handers – Cameron Jabara, Dakota Donovan and Ryan Garcia – combined on a six-inning, six-hitter, allowing three earned runs on six with six strikeouts and five walks. Three Patriots’ 2016 pitchers – left-hander Jordan Roberts, and right-handers Jonathan Heasley and Chris Burdine – almost matched CBA’s numbers to a tee, allowing three earned on five hits with seven strikeouts and five walks over six innings.

The result capped outstanding tournament runs by both teams. CBA Marucci, based in Temecula, Calif., was coming off an unbeaten championship at the 17u PG WWBA National Championship earlier this month, and had a 15-game PG national championship tournament winning streak before losing an 8-7, eight-inning winner’s bracket semifinal game to the Orlando Scorpions Prime Monday night.

The Patriots, who finished runner-up to CBA Marucci at the 17u PG WWBA National Championship, lost its first-round playoff game to GBG Marucci on Monday but bounced back to beat No. 8 CCB Elite, 3-2, in a loser’s bracket semifinal to earn a spot in the third-place game.

2015 17u Perfect Game World Series runner-up: GBG Marucci

2015 17u Perfect Game World Series MVP: Carlos A. Cortes

2015 17u Perfect Game World Series MV-Pitcher: Tobias Myers

2015 17u Perfect Game World Series third-place teams: Dallas Patriots, CBA Marucci

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