Tournaments : : Story
Tuesday, July 5, 2016

KBC finds silver lining

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Perfect Game


EMERSON, Ga. – Kentucky Baseball Club has been a mainstay at Perfect Game tournaments for quite some time now. They collect the best talent in the state of Kentucky and travel across the country to showcase the elite talent in the state.

The program’s purpose can be found in their mission statement:

“The Kentucky Baseball Club (KBC) is Kentucky’s premier summer baseball program, organized as an amateur youth club exclusively for the charitable and educational purposes of national and international play. Kentucky Baseball Club offers only the highest level of instruction and development at the amateur level. The club was established to provide skilled players the opportunity to compete nationally against the country’s best competition while showcasing their own abilities.”

KBC has a collection of highly ranked players, many of which are committed to play baseball at the University of Kentucky. There is a definite sense of state pride among the team and Coach Kevin Clary is impressed with the statewide elite talent.

“The mission statement of our organization is that we only take guys from the state of Kentucky,” said Clary. “We’re not an airport team and we do have state pride, we always come down here (17u WWBA National Championship) for the exposure of our players; not just the D-I kids but the D-II and the NAIA guys too. We think we play really good baseball and people think of Kentucky as a basketball state but really it’s a youth baseball state.”

One of the players who is committed to Kentucky is righthander Ben Jordan. He stands tall at 6-foot-9 and pounds the strike zone with the combination of his fastball and curveball. Jordan is the 29th nationally ranked player for the class of 2017 and is an imposing presence on the mound.

“Working every day really helps,” said Jordan of his own progression. “You can’t get complacent. I’ve really tried to work hard every day and that’s what has worked so far. Size is a big factor. I’ve got a good arm and a pretty decent curveball. I throw strikes and that’s really all you can ask for of a pitcher. I pound the zone and try to because you can’t defend a walk.”

State pride is a consistent theme among members of the team and Jordan is no exception. He loves Kentucky and is very impressed with their baseball program.

“I love the school, they have a great SEC program,” said Jordan. “I’m going to play with a lot of players that I’ve already played with and that’s a comfort going in knowing I’m going to know some guys and make some new friends playing together.”

Clary wants his team to understand that there are a plethora of places and schools around the country that have a strong baseball pedigree. Once he sees his team realize that they can compete nationwide he believes that KBC will be able to take the next step.

“It’s good for our players to understand that there’s great baseball in other places,” said Jordan. “These tournaments get them out of their comfort zone and help them understand that they can play against some of the best teams in the country. There’s 384 teams here and some of the kids have such a small window and limiting their school choices. A benefit of traveling is that the kids can see the different schools and campuses besides the schools in our state.”

Jordan had a strong start today for KBC but wavered in the sixth inning. He finished with a final line of 5 1/3 innings pitched while allowing four earned runs and striking out seven. He opened the sixth with a strikeout before walking the next two batters, who came around to score later in the inning after he had been removed from the game. His fastball sat from 88-91 mph and he mixed in a curve with good depth to keep hitters off balance. KBC fell to the Scorpions West 8-2 and fell to 3-2 in their pool.

KBC’s strength is in their pitching staff. They have a very deep rotation and can pitch against anyone in the country. Defensively they are a strong team as well and focus on playing mistake-free baseball. The area of concern Clary has is with his offense. He admits that the offense is the team’s biggest weakness, but added that they have had timely hits all tournament long to carry the team.

“Our strengths are our pitching, we play really good defense, and we rely on timely hitting,” said Clary. “Our offense is probably the weakest part of our team. We do hit but we don’t knock the fences down, it’s more timely hitting, situational baseball.”

Clary wants his team to focus on the factors that they can control and not to worry about other teams’ records. Jordan echoed his coach’s sentiments and wants his team to focus on winning one game at a time.

“You know we want them to play one game at a time,” said Clary. “We can’t control what happens to the Banditos (1st place team in Pool OO) and we have to take care of our business first. We want to end up winning the rest of our games and we’ll see where the pieces fall.”

“We’re just trying to win out,” added Jordan. “We’re working hard and we’re grinding. It’s hot, everyone’s hot, but we’re just going to work hard and let the chips fall where they may.”

The beauty of the game of baseball is its unpredictability. Clary and KBC will be hoping that some chaos breaks in their favor after losing two games in pool play. Regardless of their placing in the tournament the team is gaining meaningful experience and exposure that will aid them in their baseball futures to come.



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