Tournaments | Story | 7/7/2016

Release escapes rash of upsets

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – Bracket play for the 17u WWBA National Championship kicked off on Thursday and it was exciting to say the least. Four of the top 10 seeds in bracket play were upset and there were several entertaining games dominated by elite pitching.

The biggest upset of the day might be CBA Marucci National, the No. 2 seed and defending champion, as they fell to the East Cobb Astros 2-1 in extra innings. A scoreless tie through six innings, the Astros broke through with the first runs of the day in the top of the seventh inning. Judson Ward, the No. 5 outfielder in the state of Alabama for the class of 2017 and an Auburn commit, came through with an RBI walk, and Sam Praytor, the No. 2 catcher in the state of Alabama for the class of 2017 and an Alabama commit, followed with an RBI hit by pitch to give the Astros the 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the frame.

Cody Greenhill, the No. 4 righthanded pitcher in the state of Alabama for the class of 2017 and an Auburn commit, dominated CBA as he had a no-hitter through six innings to keep the Astros in it. CBA scored a run in the seventh on a bases loaded squeeze bunt to cut the lead to 2-1. After an intentional walk, Greenhill induced a groundout to secure the victory and the no-hitter.

The No. 5 seed in the tournament, FTB Rockets, also fell to the Florida Burn Platinum 4-2. With the score tied at 2-2 early on, the game would remain tied in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Rockets put runners on first and second with no outs and the Burn turned to Colton Gordon-Zimring, the No. 10 lefthanded pitcher in the state of Florida for the class of 2017, to try to escape the jam.

Gordon-Zimring induced a groundout for the first out of the inning and then intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases with one out. He then struck out the next batter and forced a groundout to the mound to keep the game tied and give the Burn some momentum heading into the top of the fifth.

Tyler Shuck, the No. 30 righthanded pitcher in the state of Florida for the class of 2017 and a Florida Gulf Coast commit, came through with a big two-run single to give the Burn the lead in the final inning. Gordon-Zimring came back in the bottom of the Frame to shut the door on the Rockets and send the Burn to the round of 16.

The Northeast Baseball Rays, the No. 7 seed, lost to Houston C2 Select 3-0. Peyton Sherlin of Select dominated the Rays and tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout. Sherlin was pounding the strike zone and keeping hitters off balance all day and he was a big reason why Select advanced to the round of 16.

Zachary LaCanfora provided most of the offense on the day for Select. He had a big two-run hit in the three-run third inning to give Sherlin all the run support he needed.

One of the most talented teams in the country and the No. 8 seed in the tournament, the EvoShield Canes, also couldn’t avoid the upset bug and fell to the Southern California Bombers 3-1.

The Bombers got the scoring started in the top of the first with a three-spot to begin the game. Jared Dinisi, the No. 10 first baseman in the state of California for the class of 2017, knocked in the first run with an RBI double. Dinisi advanced home after a couple of wild pitches to build the lead to 2-0. The Bombers capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to start the game with a commanding 3-0 lead.

From that point on starting pitcher Carlos Lomeli, the No. 13 righthanded pitcher in the state of California for the class of 2017 and a St. Mary’s commit, was electric. Lomeli tossed a complete game while only allowing one run to score and striking out two.

One team that was able to avoid an upset was the No. 3 seed Release Baseball. In a game where the final score was closer than the game actually was, MSI Bubba Grad fell to Release Baseball 7-5.

Release Baseball took advantage of some spotty pitching and defense as they put up six runs in the bottom of the second inning. Two runs were scored thanks to an error and a wild pitch, respectively. Jake Arrison collected an RBI single and Sammy Frontino added a two-run double to pile on what became a big 7-1 lead.

Quinn Lavelle, the No. 11 lefthanded pitcher in the state of Ohio for the class of 2017 and a Northwestern commit, provided some strong innings on the mound. Lavelle tossed a complete game while allowing five runs, only four earned, striking out seven batters to help Release Baseball advance to the round of 16.

Lavelle credited the command of his pitches, specifically his slider, to his success. He did a good job at mixing in his off-speed pitches to keep hitters off balance.

“My control was working,” said Lavelle after the game. “I left a couple balls up at the end. Overall, my pitches were working as far as my slider and fastball. I had a couple 3-2 sliders that ended in strikeouts which was big. Coach had the confidence to let me call my pitches and it worked out.”

Manager Matt Rosinski was extremely proud of his team’s efforts in the tournament thus far. Perceived as the underdogs in bracket play, Rosinski is proud of the way his team has worked hard and played together as a team to have success.

“We’re just a team from a 10 mile radius in Cleveland,” said Rosinski. “We’ve been playing together for a couple of years just carrying 13 guys. It’s amazing to show that you can compete against anyone in the country if you just play the game the right way and stick together. Our kids are having an absolute blast playing against kids from different states. We’ve played unbelievable baseball up until today; today wasn’t our sharpest but we still found a way to win. Quinn Lavelle made pitches against a very talented MSI Bubba team.”

Being a small, local team can have its advantages. Rosinski’s players have been playing together for a few years now and that kind of team chemistry and bonding is something you can’t teach. The players support each other and that means a lot as the playoffs continue to heat up.

“I think it means so much to the kids,” said Rosinski. “They know each other, they’ve been playing with each other, and they pick each other up when it’s not going good. When they come through it’s all the sweeter. When we’re getting the attention that we’re getting because of our performance it’s incredible because these kids have been working together for two years. Although we have a lot of individuals on the team, the team itself is getting a lot of recognition which they’re so proud of. Release Baseball is just one team, and it’s this team.”

Release Baseball’s next opponent will be the South Carolina Panthers on Thursday afternoon. The goal of any team during the tournament is to win, but win or lose Rosinski is still proud of his team and knows that Release Baseball from Cleveland, Ohio has made a big statement on the national stage.

“We’re happy to make it this far,” said Rosinski. “We’re going to take it one game at a time. These kids have proven me wrong so many times before, and they never give up, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we keep this thing rolling. We have Braydon Nelson on the mound the next one, and we’re just going to go all in and see where it takes us.”

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