EMERSON, Ga. – Marucci Elite Black entered Monday’s game against the Excel Blue Sox with a 4-0 record and looking to extend their winning streak. Offense has led the way for Marucci as they were averaging nine runs per game. One of the top players on the team is shortstop Drew Bianco. The son of Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, Drew has confidence in his team’s ability to hit and looks to keep the offense’s recent hot streak going.
“We’ve got a lot of talented players on this team,” said Bianco. “We may not have the most commitments but we play together and we play well together. Even when we go down we know we can come back. We’re on a good roll, it’s rubbing off on everyone. One through nine are hitting the ball, the pitchers are pitching well, and we’ve got a lot of confidence going.”
Bianco is the No. 99 overall player for the class of 2018 and is committed to play baseball at LSU. It’s strange given that Bianco’s father is the head coach of Ole Miss and he would opt to play for a conference rival. Both of Bianco’s parents went to LSU and so he decided to keep the family tradition going.
“Ever since we were little he’s always said he wants us to go to college,” said Bianco of his father’s wishes. “Even if we weren’t good enough to play baseball he wanted us to go off and go do our own thing and have a college experience like my mom and dad did. I was being recruited by a couple of schools and my dad and my mom both went to LSU and once I got that offer I knew that’s where I wanted to go. Both of my parents went there and I loved everything about it.
“The coaches were awesome and everything about it was amazing. 12,000 people going nuts, the facilities are awesome, and everyone loves LSU baseball down there.”
Catcher Slade Bolden echoed similar sentiments about the Marucci Elite offense. The overarching philosophy of this team was to focus on pitching and defense and to gradually build the offense to the point where the entire team was on the same page.
“We definitely came around and started hitting the ball pretty well,” said Bolden. “We’ve played some good defense and the pitchers are doing a phenomenal job. We’re getting hot right now and hopefully we can stay hot.”
“I’m just going up being confident knowing that we can hit any guy here,” added Bianco. “We have a lot of talented guys, we hunt the fastball and hit it. If we’re down in the count, we’re going to put the ball in play. We’ve had some really good swings.”
Manager Shane Trosclair noted that the bonding of the team and overall chemistry has been the impetus for the recent offensive explosion. By growing as a team and recognizing the responsibilities of each spot in the lineup, the batters have become more comfortable in their roles and are able to produce at a high level.
“The team chemistry and the dugout atmosphere has been awesome,” said Trosclair. “They’ve played together and they’ve played as a family. It took all summer but we’re peaking at the right time. Offensively, we struggled in the month of June. The last time I saw them was in Hattiesburg and I told them that June was over and let’s get hot in July. They got hot this week.
“We definitely have some good arms. We talked at the beginning of summer that we wanted to build the team around pitching and defense. The offense would come with the chemistry. It comes with learning each other and learning the roles. On the mound and defense we need to be lights out. Throw strikes, make plays, and score runs. That’s been the formula and that’s been working.”
Marucci is taking the tournament one game at a time. They want to focus on one game and one team before getting too ahead of themselves and underestimating an opponent.
“Every time we step on the field the most important game of the summer is today,” continued Trosclair. “It’s not tomorrow, it’s not two days from now, but it’s today. If you don’t win today then you don’t move on. We concentrate one game at a time. Give me three or four hours of your day and then the rest of the day go enjoy Atlanta.”
“We definitely want to keep the streak going,” added Bolden. “We want to win all the games. We don’t want to let it come down to runs allowed or whatever it may be. If we just win all of our games we can make it to bracket play.”
Unfortunately for Marucci Elite they ran into some trouble against the Excel Blue Sox as they fell 3-2. Marucci led 2-1 for the majority of the game but the game was on the line in the bottom of the sixth. Dalton King, the No. 13 righthanded pitcher in the state of Alabama for the class of 2017, came through for the Blue Sox and knocked in two runs with a double to give the Blue Sox the lead. Marucci would succumb in the top of the seventh and the loss was sealed.
Marucci falls to 4-1 in the pool and one game behind first place MSI Bubba. Their next game will be against MSI with the pool, and a bracket spot, potentially on the line. The offense was stagnated on this day but look for a bounce back on all fronts as Marucci Elite makes its playoff push over the final two pool play games.