T-Rex claims another PG championship
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – No one wanted the championship at this year’s Perfect Game/EvoShield Upperclass National Championship decided this way, but everyone agreed it was the only option to be considered.
With both teams worn out from long, extra-inning semifinal games and with PG continuing to demand strict adherence to PitchSmart guidelines, No. 4-seeded AZ T-Rex Baseball Club (7-0-0) was awarded the championship trophy at the PG/Evo Upper National when No. 7 Trosky Mizuno Baseball (6-1-0) forfeited after four innings of play because it had exhausted its pitching resources.
AZ T-Rex led 10-7 at the time of the forfeit in what had been a wild back-and-forth affair played-out in hot and humid conditions and under overcast skies at Goodyear Ballpark.
Trosky Mizuno used four pitchers in its 11-inning semifinal victory Monday morning and AZ T-Rex used three in its 10-inning semifinal win. The coaches from both teams met with PG officials at home plate before the start of the championship game and agreed that if one team or the other ran out of pitching once the game was official, that team would forfeit.
PG Vice President of Business Development Brad Clement was in attendance and part of the pregame meeting with the teams’ coaches when it was explained that the PitchSmart guidelines would be followed without a fault. Both teams had already used two pitchers each through first four innings, but while T-Rex had enough horses in its stable to continue, Trosky simply did not.
“Having to play an 11-inning game in the semifinals certainly had some bearing on this,” PG’s Clement said after the Trosky forfeit. “And obviously, (Trosky) didn’t want to take the chance of putting somebody in to pitch who wasn’t ready to do that. There was no animosity or hard feelings. They just didn’t have enough pitchers.”
Both sides were hoping their starter would deliver an efficient, low-maintenance effort but that didn’t happen. Trosky scored one run in the first inning, four in the second and two in the third before being shutout in the fourth. AZ T-Rex answered with four in the first, three in the second and three in the fourth.
While all eyes were on the pitchers, it was the hitters from both teams that were putting on a show. T-Rex PG All-American Jacob Gonzalez was 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored; Giani Tomasi went 2-for-3 with a run; both Trevor Hauver and Scott Mehan were 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Trosky’s Cole Roberts singled twice, drove in a run and scored three; Jake Figueroa doubled, singled and drove in a pair; Matthew Happ delivered a pair of singles.
“We just got it done,” AZ T-Rex Baseball Club founder and head coach Rex Gonzalez said with a hint of relief in his voice. “This wasn’t some of the best baseball that we’ve played all year long but in this game the bottom line is a win’s a win.”
Most of the players on this AZ T-Rex BC roster were on hand here in late July when the T-Rexers won the elite 17u PG World Series, their first PG national championship in 2016. The one thing that has been known about this lineup for a couple of years now is it can flat-out rake, and it showed it again this weekend when it recorded a team batting average of .402 with a team OPS of 1.035 while averaging just under 10 runs per game.
The lineup boasted at least three legitimate Most Valuable Player contenders with 2017s Hauver, Gonzalez and Tomasi. Hauver (ranked No. 204; an Arizona State commit) went 12-for-23 (.522) with three doubles, three triples, nine RBI and seven runs scored; Gonzalez (No.45; TCU) finished 14-for-27 (.519) with four doubles, a triple, nine RBI and six runs; and Tomasi (t-1,000, St. Mary’s) 15-for-27 (.556) with two doubles, 13 singles five RBI and nine runs.
The award went to Hauver, a 6-foot, 185-pound infielder from Chandler, Ariz.
“This weekend was amazing,” he said. “These Perfect Game tournaments (bring out) nothing but excellent talent, and we just try to come out here and just put our best effort in. We’ve been fortunate to come out on top the last couple of times we’ve played in one.”
Twenty-two of AZ T-Rex’s 76 hits went for extra-bases, AZ T-Rex ended up hitting .402 as a team with 22 of its 76 hits going for extra bases, or almost 30 percent. Thirteen pitchers combined to compile a 2.64 ERA over 45 innings and could no better than a 47-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“I thought we swung the bats pretty well,” Rex Gonzalez said. “(Our pitchers) walked a few more guys than we would like to them do – we’d prefer our pitchers throw more strikes – but all-in-all they battled through it. We had some timely hitting when we needed it, and that’s kind of the way the whole summer and coming into this fall season has been so far.”
The semifinal games played Monday morning on the Indians’ side of the Goodyear Ballpark complex were both epic affairs, with both going several extra innings and reaching the 3-hour mark in duration. When they finished, AZ T-Rex had escaped with a back-and-forth, 6-5, 10-inning victory over the No. 9 Lamorinda Upperclass (5-1-0) and Trosky won a classic pitchers’ duel with a 1-0, 11-inning win over the No. 11 Solana Beach Cardinals.
The contest between Trosky and Solana Beach was scoreless through 10 ½ innings, and even when Trosky broke though in the bottom of the 11th it was a most unconventional manner. With one out, Jonathan Murad reached first on catcher’s interference, Roberts walked and Figueroa singled to load bases; the winning run came home when Colter Nisbit was hit by a pitch.
The Mizunos totaled four this and were issued 10 walks, and left nine runners on base. The Cardinals had three hits and accepted seven walks and left 12 on base. The game was all about the pitching.
Four Trosky pitchers combined on the 11-inning three-hitter with 13 strikeouts and seven walks. Murad, a 2018 right-hander, gave up one hit, walked two and struck-out three while working the final 3 2/3 innings. Solana Beach received a very workmanlike three-hit, seven shutout innings from 2017 left-handed starter Jacob Frankel, who struck-out one and walked six.
Gonzalez led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a double and one out later came home to score on a hard groundball single into right field off the bat of Blake Paugh to give AZ T-Rex the hard-fought win over Lamorinda. The T-Rexers led this ballgame 4-0 after three innings but the Upperclassmen rallied to take a 5-4 lead after six; AZ T-Rex tied it at 5 with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh.
Gonzalez finished 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two RBI and two runs scored and Paugh had a pair of singles and two RBI in T-Rex’s 11hit attack. Lamorinda totaled 10 hits off the first two T-Rex pitchers but 2017 right-hander shut the door, pitching five no-hit, shutout innings with five strikeouts and two walks to finish the game.
Lamorinda’s Max Heverly reached base five times with three singles and two walks, and drove in a run; Andrew Meggs had three singles and scored a run. Three Upperclass pitchers combined on the 11-hitter with three strikeouts and four walks.
Next up for this T-Rex Baseball Club outfit is its first trip to Jupiter, Fla., for the PG WWBA World Championship at the end of October. “We’re just a bunch of kids from Arizona trying to play against the top kids in the country,” Hauver said. “These are kids we’ve been playing with our whole lives and we want to put our best effort in trying to get a ‘W.’”
The T-Rexers will be tested in Jupiter, but so far they’ve answered just about every other bell in 2017. Rex Gonzalez can hardly wait.
“We’re really looking forward to going to Jupiter,” he said. “The best of the best will be out there and that’s kind of what we’re looking for – a measuring stick. And that’s definitely a measuring stick for everybody, with future pro ball players and even future major-leaguers. I think Jupiter is going to be a good stepping stone, if you will, to evaluate some talent and see exactly where they’re going to be.”
2016 PG/EvoShield Upperclass National Championship runner-up: Trosky Mizuno Baseball
2016 PG/EvoShield Upperclass National Championship MVP: Trevor Hauver
LVR romps to PG/Evo Freshman title
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The two teams that faced-off in the championship game at the Perfect Game/EvoShield Freshman National Championship Monday afternoon at the Camelback Ranch MLB spring training complex were not among the playoffs’ top-two seeds.
The No. 3-seeded Las Vegas (Nev.) Recruits (LVR) and No. 4 GBG I.E. (Inland Empire) from Highland, Calif., both had to win play-in games Sunday just to get a seat at the final-four table alongside No. 1 GBG Marucci Navy (Los Angeles) and the No. 2 CBA Wave (San Diego).
But after LVR found some late footing and raced past GBG I.E. in the title game played on the White Sox's side of the expansive Camelback layout, co-head coach Evan Greusol firmly believed that play-in game worked in his team’s favor.
“Looking at the games this week and playing one game a day, and with GBG I.E. making the finals, as well as us, I think playing that game last night was beneficial,” Greusol said Monday. “It was more at-bats against quality teams … and I think sometimes getting one of those top seeds you can think too much trying to plan your pitching out.
“But coming out today with the arms we had and swinging it the way we did, you can’t be happier about the way we came out of it today.”
Holding on to a precarious 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, LVR (6-0-0) busted loose for seven runs in the frame to take a 9-1 lead and end the championship game by the eight-run rule. GBG I.E. (5-1-0) had successfully withstood every challenge during the PG/Evo Freshman’s four-day run, but it had no answer for this onslaught.
Tyler Whitaker smacked a three-run double, Carson Wells delivered a two-run single and Bradley Stone contributed an RBI single in the sixth; Whitaker finished the game 2-for-3 with four RBI and a run scored.
Meanwhile, 2020 right-handers Zach Hose and Stone combined on a six-inning three-hitter, giving up only one unearned run while striking out three and walking six; Hose allowed the three hits and the one unearned run in five innings of work, while striking out three and walking five. GBG I.E.’s Gabriel Perez had two of GBG I.E.’s three hits, both singles.
Whitaker, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound 2021 infielder/outfielder/right-hander from Las Vegas, went 9-for-14 (.643) with two triples, four doubles, eight RBI and six runs scored in LVR’s six games; he also pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings, giving up just one hit while striking out three and walking three. Whitaker was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Jaden Agassi, a 2020 third baseman and right-hander from Las Vegas ranked No. 13 nationally in his class, was the winning pitcher in LVR’s play-in game, working six, one-hit, shutout innings with 11 strikeouts and three walks. He was named the Most Valuable Pitcher on the heels of being named the MV Player at the 14u PG WWBA West Memorial Day Classic in late May, another PG tournament LVR won.
As talented as the mentioned above truly are, Greusol came up with a couple of other names when asked what it is that puts this team over the top: 2020 catchers Josiah Cromwick and Emilio Morales.
“It really starts with our catchers; I think we have two of the top catchers at their age anywhere,” he said. “They might not be the biggest or the strongest or the most high-profile, but they call their own pitches, it’s their game and they’re in-tune with all the pitchers. We (the coaches) call maybe three or four pitches a game and they usually get shook-off, anyway. It really starts with them and our pitching staff.”
And there is also no deep, dark secret to LVR’s success. Even though these prospects are young, this LVR team has pitchers who throw strikes and attack hitters and who allow the defense to play loose and relaxed behind them. Add in some timely hitting from batters up and down the order and this is really difficult team to beat.
“We have a great group of kids and at any time anyone can carry our team,” Greusol said.
Both semifinal games were played on the White Sox’s side at Camelback Monday morning and the outcomes were both upsets in terms of seeding, with LVR rallying for a 4-2 victory over the No. 2 CBA Wave (3-1-0) and GBG I.E. also scoring late in its 5-3 win over No. 1 GBE Marucci (3-1-0).
GBG IE scored three runs in the top of the sixth to secure a 5-1 lead and held on for the 5-3 win despite GBG Marucci Navy scoring two of its own in the bottom of the sixth.
I.E.’s Jacob McClure doubled, singled and drove in three runs, and Matthew Bardowell singled, walked twice, drove in a run and scored a run as part of a five-hit attack. Marucci Navy totaled seven hits; Daylen Reyes doubled, singled and had two RBI and Chase Melnick contributed a double.
Whitaker stroked a one-out, two-run triple to right field in the top of the seventh inning that erased a 2-1 deficit, and Kade Higgins’ double an out later brought home an insurance run in LVR’s victory. Whitaker also teamed with 2020 the righty Morales on a five-hitter, with four strikeouts and seven walks.
Grant Anderson hit a two-run single in the bottom of the third to account for the Wave’s two runs; Jude Littrell doubled and scored a run.
“I think Perfect Game is the best experience for these kids,” Greusol said. “It brings in the top talent across the board and there are no gimme games, so you have to be in on every pitch and every at-bat. These tournaments really teach you that every out matters, every run matters, every game matters.”
2016 PG/EvoShield Freshman National Championship champions: LVR
2016 PG/EvoShield Freshman National Championship runner-up: GBG IE
2016 PG/EvoShield Freshman National Championship MVP: Tyler Whitaker
2016 PG/EvoShield Freshman National Championship MV-Pitcher: Jaden Agassi