Tournaments | Story | 7/22/2017

DRB, new team same faces

Tiffany Seal        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. — DRB Elite arrived at the 17u PG Summer Showdown as a new name in travel baseball, but with several faces who have played together for years. 
The team has hit the ground running during the five-game set this week, winning its first two, including a 6-1 win Saturday against Top Notch 17u.

Starter Cole Stupp threw 3 1/3 innings of two-hit baseball, with two walks and two strikeouts.

“At first I was a little wild, and then I [buckled down] and started throwing my off speed for strikes,” said Stupp.

Righty Michael Allegri relieved Stupp and tossed two-thirds of an inning before handing it over to knuckleballer Jake Bearden.

“My knuckleball was working well, I got up to 83 [mph] which has probably been the hardest for me this year,” said Bearden.

Bearden continued the dominant pitching trend, going two innings, giving up two hits with two strikeouts.

“My dad threw [a knuckleball] one year in college, and I just picked it up just throwing with him and my brother in the backyard,” Bearden added of the pitch's genesis.

DBR came out playing both sides of the baseball, with Chad Knight leading the run production.

“I was just seeing the ball well and looking for a ball up in the zone and I got it,” said Knight. “It was a great team inning right there, Nate [Camp] led off with a great at-bat with a walk, and Bradley [Prince Jr.] had a great hit and really got that inning started. Hitting is contagious, so I think as a team, we really came together in that inning.”

The No. 1 ranked player in Connecticut went 1-for-2 with a two-RBI triple in the sixth as part of a five-run inning for DRB. Prince Jr. had an equally strong day, going 2-for-3 with a RBI, as the two combined to produce half of the run production for the day.

“We got pitchers that throw strikes,” said head coach Josh Meade. “And a really good defense behind them, so pretty much what we are built on is attacking hitters and letting our defense really go to work back behind them. If we hit the ball like we know we can, we are in really good shape, but lately, we have really been relying on pitching and defense.”

For Stupp, Bearden and Knight, the only difference with this team is the name.

“This is everyone’s first year, it’s a brand new team but same coaches from a different organization,” said Stupp. “They help me out with college recruiting and talking to the schools I want to talk to, and getting done what I need to get done at the right time.”

Based out of Alpharetta, Georgia, the DRB program is led by Meade, who previously coached for the Georgia Jackets.

“[We] are a new team that has been formed really recently,” said Meade. “A lot of these boys have played together, so I have had the privilege to coach these boys for three, four years. They are pretty familiar with each other, new jerseys, new name but other than that, they’ve been together for a little while.”

The DRB Elite might be a new program but is no stranger to Perfect Game.

“Definitely playing down here at LakePoint you are playing against the best players in the country,” said Knight, who was a part of the 2016 15u PG Tournament All-American Team. “I think anytime you get to compete against those kids you get to improve your game. It’s really fun getting to compare yourself to some of these kids that you may not see on an everyday basis. When you get to play against them with a great group of guys and a great group of coaches, I think it’s inevitable that you are going to become a much better ballplayer.”

DRB has several commits, with Knight heading to Duke, Prince Jr. to Purdue, righthanded pitcher/first baseman Cain Tatum going to Georgia and middle infielder Michael Wein to Wake Forest.

“Really it’s a spotlight on them every week,” said Meade about the recruiting visibility at Perfect Game. “We are pretty much playing Perfect Game stuff all summer because we are pretty local, but it’s a platform for these guys to really get seen. So when they show up to the field every single game, especially at LakePoint, you are going to have eyes on you, so it’s a good pressure to put on them.

The team will look to continue its timely hitting and strong pitching and defense to take them deeper into the tournament, as they hit the halfway mark Sunday against Rising Stars Baseball.

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