Reporter’s Note: Sunday was a day filled with non-stop action at both the Perfect Game/EvoShield Upperclass National Championship and the PG/EvoShield Freshman National Championship. Three playoff rounds – 18 games – were played at the Upperclass tournament and one round – two games – was played at the Freshman event. Pool-play also wrapped-up Sunday morning at the Freshman tournament and there were dozens of consolation games contested at both events.
What follows is a rundown of some of the day’s action that will be updated periodically. By the end of a very long day, the four semifinalists in both tournaments will have been decided. The semifinal and championships games will be played Monday in Goodyear (Upper) and Glendale (Freshman).
Defending champ CBA takes long road
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – When CBA Marucci won the 2015 Perfect Game/EvoShield Upperclass National Championship, it did so as the playoffs’ No. 2 seed. When CBA finished as runner-up at the same tournament in 2014, it was the No. 1 seed.
Going back just a few months, when the Marucci’s finished 7-1-0 after a second-round loss to the East Cobb Astros at the 17u PG WWBA National Championship in Cartersville, Ga., in early July, they did so as that tournament’s No. 2 seed. Later in the month, when they finished 6-1-0 and as runner-up to T-Rex Baseball at the 17u PG World Series, they were playing as the No. 1 seed.
Those seeding slots might be why CBA Marucci could be excused for feeling a little out of sorts after earning the No. 12 seed at this weekend’s PG/EvoShield Upper despite finishing pool-play 3-0 and outscoring its three opponents by a combined 22-7.
But that seven runs allowed hurt CBA in the seeding process and meant it would have to play a first-round playoff game Sunday morning instead of getting a free pass into Sunday afternoon’s second round. That’s a ticket-to-ride handed out only to the top-10 seeds.
The consequence is an obvious one. The winners of the six first-round games have to play and win two more games on Sunday in the 100-plus degree desert heat in order to advance to Monday’s final-four. It could realistically be 21 innings of baseball played in about a 12-hour span.
“It hasn’t happened very often lately, but I also don’t think it’s anything foreign to this group,” CBA Marucci general manager/manager Jon Paino said before he sent his team out to face the No. 21 Angels Scout Team in its first-rounder on the Cleveland Indians side of the Peoria Ballpark Complex.
“We tried to give some kids some opportunities in those pool-play games – especially some of our uncommitted guys – and we gave up seven runs, which wasn’t bad. But in an event like this with a tight field, seven runs can come back to bite you; nothing’s ever easy.”
This is a team built to win, as its 13-2-0 overall record in the 17u PG WWBA and 17u PGWS indicates. PG All-American middle-infielder Tyler Freeman (ranked No. 51 nationally; a Texas Christian U. recruit), corner-infielder Tyler Hardman (No. 142; Oklahoma); outfielder Donte Williams (No. 152, Arizona), catcher Chris Jiminez (No. 417; Long Beach State), outfielder/left-hander Kenny Oyama (t-500; Loyola Marymount) and third baseman Jonathan Schiffer (t-500; Washington) are among the top 2017s playing this weekend.
In Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Angels Scout Team, it was another top 2017, right-hander Jonathan Stroman, who answered the bell. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Stroman, an Arizona recruit from Albuquerque, N.M., ranked 148th nationally, threw a complete-game, one-hit shutout at the Angels, striking out eight and walking three. Oyama tripled, singled and scored a run; Williams singled twice and drove in a run; and Anthony Boetta (’17 t-1,000; Santa Clara) doubled and scored a run.
“They’re just phenomenal guys, guys that we’re going to be friends with probably for the rest of our lives,” Paino said. “I can say that depth-wise, this is probably our best team that we’ve ever had. That’s made it fun because every time we come out it’s somewhat of a different mix.”
The first-round victory setup a second-round pairing with No. 5 Birds Black (3-0-0) out of Corona, Calif. If the Marucci’s get past the Birds, they would face the winner of the second-rounder between the No. 4 AZ T-Rex Baseball Club (3-0-0) – the squad that beat them in the championship game of the 17u PGWS in July – and the No. 13 Sacramento Sports Center Easton Cats (4-0-0) in a Sunday night quarterfinal.
“They’re going to take it one inning at a time and one game at a time,” Paino said. “They’ve been through the wars and they’ve had success, and I don’t think there is any group that is a prepared to do that. I’m pretty confident in them and their ability as a group and we’re looking forward to the three games, and we were even kind of joking about it this morning. Their heads are in the right place.”
Paino called this summer of near-misses as far as winning PG national championships goes, “very successful” – CBA did win an elite USA Baseball event this summer – especially in terms of the number of prospects on the roster that have signed with the college of their choice.
“At the end of the day, do you want a room full of accolades or do you want relationships with some of the best kids, knowing that what you put together helped them and was a platform for them to move on.”
When the CBA Marucci Uppers end their stay at this event they can look ahead to an appearance at the PG California Upperclass World Series in San Diego Oct. 1-3 before heading to Jupiter, Fla., for the season ending, blockbuster PG WWBA World Championship Oct. 20-24.
“We tried to get a lot of the kids that are on our Jupiter roster out here (for this tournament), but with school and everything else kids have going on nowadays, you can’t force it; you have to worry about the kids first,” Paino said. “But the goal here is to play into Monday.”
Sunday morning’s other first-round winners, joining CBA Marucci and the SSC Easton Cats, were also from California: No. 11 Salana Beach Cardinals (4-0-0), No. 14 GBG Marucci Navy (3-0-1), No. 15 NorCal Guns (3-0-1) and No. 17 Trombly Braves (3-1-0). The PG/EvoShield Upper playoff bracket can be found by clicking here.
PG/Evo Upper final-four in place
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – After the completion of pool-play involving 88 teams, first-round playoff games involving 12 teams and second-round bracket-play games that paired up 16 teams, the eight-team quarterfinals got underway Sunday night at the Goodyear Ballpark Complex.
The field consisted of six teams from California, one from Arizona and one from Oklahoma, the latter which just happened to be the No. 1-seeded Midwest Elite 18u out Norman. The eight quarterfinalists represented the Nos. 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 15 seeds in the playoff bracket.
And when the final results were in, Nos. 1 and 3 were counted among the teams that were set home about 12 hours before their goals of playing in the final-four Monday morning were realized.
In one of the two quarterfinals played on the Cleveland Indians’ side of the Goodyear complex, No. 9 Lamorinda Upperclass (5-0-0) from Pleasant Hill, Calif., knocked-off No. 1 Midwest Elite (4-1-0), 8-7, and in one of the two played on the Cincinnati Reds’ side, the No. 11 Solana Beach Cardinals (6-0-0) from Dana Point, Calif., got past the No. 3 CAB Soldiers (4-1-0) out of Rancho Cordova, Calif., 6-1.
Those two upsets, combined with No. 4 AZ T-Rex Baseball Club (5-0-0) from Scottsdale’s 5-2 victory over No. 12 CBA Marucci (5-1-0) out of Temecula, Calif., and No. 7 Trosky Mizuno (5-0-0) from Los Angeles’ 6-2 win over the No. 15 NorCal Young Guns (4-1-1) from Escalon, Calif., left Monday’s semifinal pairings looking like this:
No. Lamorinda Upperclass vs. No. 4 AZ T-Rex Baseball Club, and the No. 11 Solana Beach Cardinals vs. No. 7 Trosky Mizuno. The SB Cards are the only team of the four that had to play a first-round game on Sunday, meaning the quarterfinal matchup was their third game of the day.
Lamorinda Upperclass totaled only four hits in its victory, but took advantage of five walks, three errors and three wild pitches to score four unearned runs. Midwest scattered seven hits and was issued six walks but four of its seven runs were unearned, as well, thanks to a Lamorinda error and four wild pitches. Lamorinda led 6-5 after four innings and both teams scored twice in the sixth which led to a scoreless seventh and the final one-run outcome.
All four of Lamorinda’s hits were singles, and Christian Encarnacion Strand managed to collect one of them; he also drove in two runs and scored twice. Midwest scattered six singles and a double from Ricky Lewis, who scored twice; Kaden Polcavich singled, drove in two runs and also scored twice.
The Soldiers took a 1-0 lead on the Cardinals in the third inning of their game, but Solana Beach rallied for two runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth, which ended the scoring. The Cards totaled eight hits – seven singles – but only two of their six runs were earned.
Ivan Luna doubled, drove in a run and scored a run to lead them at the plate; Jacob Frankel singled twice and also drove in a run and scored one. 2018 right-hander Jack Lafaro and 2017n righty Frank Salzo combined on a five-hitter with four strikeouts and a walk. Five CAB batters collected one single apiece.
The game between AZ T-Rex Baseball Club and 2015 PG/Evo Upper champion CBA Marucci was a rematch of July’s championship game at the 17u PG World Series, which AZ T-Rex BC also won, albeit in a romp. This one was a little closer.
Unheralded 2017 right-hander Marcus Christy, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound, top-1,000 uncommitted prospect from nearby Mesa, Ariz., managed to allow only two unearned runs despite giving up 10 hits and one walk – he struck out five – in his seven innings of work. It was the sort of flawed masterpiece that really good teams need to have every now and then to reach the ultimate destination.
T-Rex BC managed nine hits itself, with 2017s Scott Mehan (t-500, uncommitted) collecting three singles and driving in a run, Gianni Tomasi (t-1,000, St. Mary’s) rapping out a couple of singles, driving in a run and scoring one, and Trevor Hauser (No. 204, Arizona State) smacking a triple, driving in a run and scoring another.
CBA Marucci PG All-American 2017 Tyler Freeman (No. 51, TCU) went 3-for-4 and scored a run and 2017 Tyler Hardman (No. 142, Oklahoma) was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Semifinal pairings set at PG/Evo Freshman
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Once the completion of pool-play Sunday morning determined which two teams earned the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds and free passes into the semifinal round of the playoffs at the PG/EvoShield Freshman National Championship, a pair of play-in games determined which two teams would join them in the final-four Monday morning. All of Sunday’s play took place at the Camelback Ranch Complex, as will Monday’s final-four.
No. 1-seed GBG Marucci Navy from Los Angeles and the No. 2 CBA Wave out of San Diego completely dominated their pool-play opponents on the way to earning the top seeds in the six-team playoffs. The results of the play-in games went according to script with, the No. 3 Las Vegas Recruits (4-0-0) from Nevada and No. 4 GBG I.E. (4-0-0) out of Highland, Calif., both winning to take on the Wave (3-0-0) and the Navy (3-0-0), respectively, in the semis.
GBG Marucci Navy hit .385 as a team and eight pitchers didn’t allow a run in 14 2/3 innings, and its 35-0 runs for/against differential cemented the No. 1 seed, with 2020s Roc Rigio, Daylen Reyes and Eli Paton swung the big bats. Rigio hit a home run, two triples and a double, drove in eight runs and scored two; Reyes homered, tripled and singled, with six RBI and six runs scored; Paton had three doubles, two singles, five RBI and four runs scored.
The eight Navy pitchers allowed only one hit in their 14 2/3 shutout innings, and they struck -out 20, walked three and hit two batters.
The CBA Wave were almost as good in their three pool-play wins, hitting .377 collectively with a staff ERA of 0.49 while outscoring their three pool-play foes, 29-1. 2020s Grant Anderson (3 2Bs, 2 1Bs, 8 RBI, 2 runs), Zavien Watson (2B, 4 1Bs, 7 RBI, 6 runs) and Jude Littrell (2 2Bs, 2 1Bs, 2 RBI, 6 runs) led the way at the plate. Five Wave pitchers combined to allow one earned run in 14 2/3 innings of work (0.49 ERA) with 11 strikeouts, three walks and two hit batters.
In the two quarterfinals, No. 3 LVR beat No. 6 Phenom AZ Elite 2021 (3-1-0), 7-0, and No. 4 GBG I.E. downed the No. 5 Southern California Bombers 2020 (3-1-0), 5-4.
LVR 2020 right-hander Jaden Agassi pitched six innings of one-hit, 11-strikeout, shutout ball with 2020 righty Bradley Stone needing only 12 pitches to complete a perfect seventh inning, with one strikeout. Stone was also 2-for-3 with a triple and a run scored, and six other LVR batters had one hit apiece, with Tyler Whitaker and Josiah Cromwick each smacking doubles.
GBG I.E. 2020 righty Matthew Bardowell didn’t allow an earned run on just one hit in 5 2/3 innings of work, striking out eight and walking three. Seven GBG batters had one hit apiece, with Jacob McClure hitting a double and driving and two runs and P.J. Torrez Jr. and Lucas Gordon each contributing a single and an RBI.