Tournaments : : Story
Sunday, October 15, 2017

Elite Squad sophs thinking big

Bryan Cooney        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – With as talented of a roster the Elite Squad has at the 2017 WWBA Sophomore Championship it is almost unfair for one of their unheralded members of their roster to have a breakout performance to help Elite Squad earn a place in Monday’s semifinals.

Elite Squad boasts eight members of Perfect Game’s top 200 in the 2020 class, along with No. 3 ranked Alejandro Rosario (2021, Miami, Fla.) in the 2021 class, but Kolbe Aven (2020, Plantation, Fla.) has stole the show with his bat. Heading into Saturday, Aven had collected six hits in seven at-bats to go along with six RBI in three games to help Elite Squad to a 2-0-1 record, good enough to win their pool.

Going into the playoff rounds, Aven continued to do damage, driving in three more runs in a morning 11-1 victory over FTB-Tucci Berryhill. Later on Sunday in the quarterfinals against an unbeaten Power Baseball 2020 team, Aven’s two-run double in the second inning was all that righthander Jordan Carrion (2020, Miami, Fla.) would need as he would toss a no-hitter to send Elite Squad onto the semifinals with a 10-0 victory in five innings.

“I’ve been looking up the middle and away, trying to to drive the ball and hit line drives and get the job done,” Aven said of his successful approach. “It’s been nice having guys on base in front of me. We want to try and keep getting out front early and let our pitching shut it down from there.”

Elite Squad head coach Scott Morrison has enjoyed seeing Aven break through over the five games and is hopeful he can continue to produce more runs on Monday.

“He’s been unconscious this weekend, and he’s come up in big situations and he’s yet to let us down,” Morrison said. “He puts together quality at-bats and we’re going to try and keep riding him and hopefully good things continue for him tomorrow.”

Carrion, a Florida commit, has been known more for his tremendous abilities in the middle infield defensively, and with the bat, but threw a complete game three-hitter last Monday in Elite Squad’s 4-1 victory over Florida Burn 2019 Platinum. That win game in the championship game of the WWBA Underclass World Championship and he picked up right where he left off on the bump.

Just a lone baserunner in the fourth inning reached on an error, as Carrion was economical only requiring 44 pitches in his five innings while collecting six strikeouts.

“Once we got up with the lead, it’s all about just getting outs,” Carrion said. “They gave me confidence giving me a lead and once I had that everything was pretty easy. Getting ahead early has been our gameplan, putting pressure on the other team and just take it from there.”

Elite Squad’s Enrique Bradfield (2020, Hialeah, Fla.) had two hits, including a double, and picked up three RBI. With the wins Elite Squad will match up with unbeaten Canes Black 2020 on the Brett Field at Terry Park at 9 a.m. in one semifinal.

The Canes scored a 7-3 victory over Ostingers Baseball Academy 2020 in the quarterfinals, with Bryson Dansberry (2020, Suffolk, Va.) driving in three runs and Cannon Pickell (2020, Moyock, N.C.) working a quality outing on the mound as he struck out seven over 4 1/3 innings.

On the opposite side of the bracket, FTB-Tucci Cleveland and Florida Burn 2020 Platinum will square off at the Stadium at Terry Park in the other semifinal.

FTB had to hold off a late seventh-inning rally from Canes Gold 2020, but Ryan Carroll (2020, Chuluota, Fla.) completed a strong effort on the mound by stranding the bases loaded after allowing three runs to wrap up a 5-4 victory. Carroll also did some damage with the bat, driving in a pair of runs while Tommy Ricketts (2020, Babson Park, Fla.) and Brenden Vern (2020, Lakeland, Fla.) each had a pair of hits.

In the best quarterfinal matchup out of the four, Matthew Barnhorst (2020, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) laid down a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the eighth as a tiebreaker rule was implemented in extra innings to bring home the winning run to send the Burn by the FTB Rockets 2020 3-2. Santino Cervone (2020, Fort Myers, Fla.) gave the Burn six solid innings, surrendering an unearned run while striking out four, and Jacob Faulkner  (2020, Venice, Fla.) tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up the victory.

The semifinal winners will duke it out at the Stadium on the grounds of Terry Park at 11:15 a.m for all the inaugural WWBA Sophomore World Championship.

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