EMERSON, Ga. — The Nelson Baseball School punched its ticket to the championship day of the 2017 18u WWBA National Championship with a 6-3 win against the East Cobb Yankees on Wednesday.
“We’ve been scoring a lot of runs and hitting the ball really well,” said head coach Brian Nelson. “Our starters have given us good [outings] now every game, eight in a row, which has really helped save the pitching going into the playoffs.”
Timely hitting and defense came together, as starting right-handed pitcher Jordan Krueger shutdown the opposing East Cobb team, which previously won the championship in 2012 and 215, to earn a complete-game win—giving up seven hits with six strikeouts.
“He just threw a lot of strikes,” said Nelson. “They hit some balls hard that we made some great plays on, and he just threw a lot of strikes, which this summer he really hasn’t done a lot of until this tournament, so he’s done a tremendous job.”
Krueger started the tournament pitching 6 1/3 innings, giving up one earned run off four hits with seven strikeouts and two walks to notch the second win of the tournament for NBS, 6-1. The Kennesaw State freshman is coming off 16 appearances out of the bullpen in his first season, with the most innings out of the freshmen class with 22 1/3.
“I was just trying to dominate with the fastball, keep it away from them, keep it in and get them to roll over it and get a lot of ground balls,” said Krueger. “Our defense and hitting have both been on. We haven’t made many errors and we’ve been hitting the heck out of the ball.”
Fellow teammate and left fielder Gavin Harmon had an equally strong day, at the plate, going 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
“Our fielding and pitching has been dominating,” said Harmon. “Our fielding, literally nothing gets through the holes. Our hitting is solid too. We’ve got big hitters one through six. [For me, I’m] just going up there and having fun and staying relaxed and just putting bat to the ball, just do my job.”
Harmon is ranked as the 26th catcher in Georgia by Perfect Game and is headed to Chattanooga State Technical in the fall.
“I feel like these tournaments really get you ready for college ball,” said Harmon. “You see good pitching, especially if you’re on a good team and get to go to the playoffs and a championship, it’s a good confidence booster.”
The Nelson Baseball School has plenty of opportunities to take advantage of high-caliber talent, as it is located 16 miles away from the LakePoint complex in Kennesaw, Georgia.
“[This] is a first-class facility, and this is one of our selling points,” said Nelson. “We can stay here and play all these big tournaments, and we have been successful in these tournaments, and it’s been awesome to have this right here for us.”
Going into the championship round, NBS will be joined by reigning champion East Cobb Astros, Chi-Town Cream and semifinalist opponent Game On West Braves.
With the East Cobb Astros looking for a repeat of last year’s success, they will be seeded against Chi-Town Cream, who’s deep pitching and occasional offense has brought them to the last day.
NBS’s matchup with Game On West Braves will feature plenty of offense, as Game On West Braves has scored on average, 6.75 runs a-game.
“[We need to] keep building on what we’re building on, and keep getting the big hits,” said Nelson. “It’s a war of attrition tomorrow with only four teams left, and you’ve played so many games in a row. It’s just about getting the key hits when we get players on.”