Tournaments | Championship | 7/21/2017

Sox win 15u WWBA championship

Steven Walters        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – The East Coast Sox Select beat the Evoshield Bombers Texas by a score of 8-2 to win the 15u WWBA National Championship at LakePoint.

Braiden Broussard took the mound for the Sox and came in relatively fresh, only appearing 2 2/3 innings before the start, including a 1/3 of an inning against GBG Marucci in the semifinal game. Jovan Gill opposed him on the mound. The No. 32 overall player in the class of 2020 pitched 4 1/3 innings coming into the championship game, surrendering three hits and one walk, while fanning six.

Cade Crosby led the game off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the first run of the game on a double by Dylan Carmouche. The Bombers responded quickly, scoring a run of their own in the bottom half. Yanluis Ortiz singled to score Jorge Figueroa, who reached on a leadoff walk. The early run scoring would set the tone of the game early, showing the potential that each had at the plate.

The juggling of the lead continued in the top of the second. A hit-by-pitch sent Peyton Donaldson of the Sox to first base and he stole second and third to put himself in scoring position. Trip Wilson hit a two-out RBI single to score Donaldson and take back the lead. They would threaten again in the third with runners on second and third, but would not be able to push another run across.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the fourth, Carmouche blooped a two-run double to center field. As the throw came home, Carmouche was on his way to second, which drew a threw to second. As the throw went to second, Slade Wilks and would advance home, which drew another throw that could not be handled by Cash McNicholas, allowing Carmouche to move up to third. Don Williams singled home Carmouche to push the lead to 6-1.

“I just had to stay confident and just remember what I’m doing and just know that my team is going to help me out with whatever,” Carmouche said about his performance.

Francisco Hernandez singled to start a rally in the bottom of the fifth. McNicholas would follow him up with a double off the left field wall, placing runners at second and third with no outs. The bases would be loaded after a one-out walk to Jackson Berry, but Broussard would escape unscathed, notching a strike out and inducing ground out to retire the side. He would escape a jam in the bottom of the sixth as well, keeping the high-powered Bombers offense from making the game any closer.

The Sox would add two insurance runs in the top of the seventh, pushing the lead to 8-1. Broussard would come back for the bottom half and would retire the first batter before giving up a double. His day would be over after throwing 6 1/3 innings, surrendering just four hits and one run, walking six and striking out three, reaching his daily pitch limit.

“I just had to throw strikes, you know start on top and stay on top. I started off with a fastball and my curveball started working, so I started off with that, made sure I got a first pitch strike and I just threw my game.” Broussard said. “My curveball was really working for me this game.”

Although two runs would score in the inning, the Bombers fell short, and the Sox claimed the championship trophy, putting them atop the amateur baseball world. Sox head coach Jeff Mauldin, a high school coach at Hewitt-Trussville High School in Alabama and in his first time coaching in the WWBA, said that this tournament was a completely different experience from winning a state championship, one that took a lot of grit.

“It’s tough, because in high school, in the playoffs you play and then have a week off to prepare. We had no time to prepare, you’re playing in 30 minutes, and it was the physical grind and the mental grind that this tournament brings out. It brings out the best in you, the best and the worst in you and we kept telling our guys, ‘Who’s going to be physically better? Who’s going to be mentally better over these next 24 hours?’ We were the ones that did that,” Mauldin said.

That mentality was needed to be able to beat the No. 2-seeded Bombers, who impressed in pool play by run-ruling six teams, including a three inning, 15-run performance against Foundation Sports PTC. The staff for the Bombers tossed three one-hitters as the pitching surrendered only four runs against opponents in their pool.

Bracket play saw the Bombers return closer to reality, playing in two, one-run games to start their run. A 4-1 victory over Team Elite 15u Prime and a 6-1 win over Midwest Elite 15u secured their spot in the championship game. Masyn Winn started for the Bombers in that game and hurled 4 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. That performance would help solidify the MV-Pitcher honors for the 5-foot-8 righty, who finished the tournament with 24 strikeouts and no earned runs allowed over 11 1/3 innings.

The East Coast Sox coasted to the No. 9 seed in the playoffs, scoring 55 runs in pool play. Their pitching shutout four teams in pool play, giving up 11 runs over the seven games, and would continue that pitching success in the playoffs, keeping some of the best offenses in the tournament relatively quiet, including a 7-1 win against a hot GBG Marucci 2020 team in the semifinals.

“The last two teams we played, we knew they were very, very offensive and very, very aggressive, so the two kids we threw were more or less off-speed pitch guys,” Mauldin said. “The fastball’s okay, but we had a really good changeup for a strike, really good curveball and we just threw all three pitches for strikes.”

The offense was also a vital part of the success of the Sox, scoring 35 runs in bracket play. One of the catalysts to the lineup was the shortstop, Crosby, who compiled a .500 average (15-for-30) with five doubles, two triples, nine RBIs and seven stolen bases out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup. That effort would garner him the MV-Player award for the tournament.

“I mean if I could cut it into pieces, I’d share it with my team, but I can’t, but it’s awesome. It really is,” Crosby said.

That team first approach was echoed by Mauldin, who said that it was a team approach that really helped them bond together. He focused on how it is not individuals, but a team that wins ball games, and all week long he saw them play for each other, which ultimately led to their WWBA National Championship victory.

“The biggest thing was playing as a team. You didn’t see a lot of individuals out here trying to be selfish. They played as a team, and I told them a lot of teams have a bunch of individuals on it and we can be a team of one,” Mauldin said. “I just think the love for each other and the chemistry that they grew with each other during the week was the biggest difference in the last two days, because the last two days is tough. Five games in 24 hours. To go 12-0, but 5-0 the last two days against the best competition in the country is huge for these guys to do.”

2017 15u WWBA National Championship runner-up: Evoshield Bombers Texas

2017 15u WWBA National Championship MVP: Cade Crosby

2017 15u WWBA National Championship MV-Pitcher: Masyn Winn

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