Tournaments : : Story
Monday, October 16, 2017

Squad remains Elite

Bryan Cooney        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The championships just keep coming for the Elite Squad program, claiming the inaugural WWBA Sophomore World Championship with a 9-0 victory over the same Florida Burn Platinum program they defeated a week ago in the Underclass World Championship final.

Prior to that, the Elite Squad program had not tasted victory in some of the big Perfect Game events throughout the summer despite some close calls. After claiming the WWBA Underclass World Championship a handful of the players were back at it for more this weekend to try and claim another big trophy.

On Sunday Elite Squad rolled through the first set of playoff games relatively unscathed, and when they found themselves trailing 2-1 to Canes Black 2020 in the sixth inning of the semifinals Monday morning, unsung hero in Kolbe Aven (2020, Plantation, Fla.) came through again, knocking a go-ahead three-run double. Coupled with Alejandro Rosario’s strong outing on the mound, Elite Squad would again meet with the Florida Burn Platinum, this time a matchup of their 2020 teams in the tournament final.

Elite Squad produced some early offense, as Gavin Casas’ three-run triple in the second inning gave starting pitcher Connor Manning (2021, Coral Springs, Fla.) all the support he would need in their 9-0 championship victory.

“For the program to go back to back in big events like this, it was a big win for us to finish what they had started this weekend” Elite Squad head coach Scott Morrison said. “Our president Richie Palmer has built a powerhouse down there and we’re just trying to continue to grow it and follow in the footsteps of all of the previous guys that have previously played for us.”

In the first inning Elite Squad took advantage of a dropped throw at second base on a potential double play ball, allowing Jordan Carrion (2020, Miami, Fla.), who led off the game with a single, to come in to score from third to make it 1-0. Christian Eiroa (2020, Miami, Fla.) hit a fly ball deep enough to center to score Casas (2020, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) to give Manning a two-run lead before he stepped to the mound.

The righthander only needed five pitches to retire the side, and in the second his teammates would rack up six more runs with Joel Perez (2020, Miramar, Fla.) bringing in a run on a RBI single to center, Carrion lining an RBI single to left and Casas driving a shot up against the right-center field wall to plate three more runs to put the contest well in hand early.

From there, Manning only allowed two singles and would throw only 53 pitches in the five-inning complete game effort. Despite making it look easy all weekend, Elite Squad certainly may not have been in the situation to claim the championship without the clutch at-bat from Aven, the tournament MVP in the semifinal.

“I had a good count to hit in, and I was expecting fastball with the bases loaded there 2-0,” Aven said. “I got it and I just tried to hit it hard.”

Aven’s 15 RBI led the tournament, and he tallied nine hits in 13 at-bats, good for a .692 average, a performance that he hopes will propel him moving forward.

“It’s going to give me a lot more confidence at the plate, showing that I can hit like this day in and day out.”

Rosario (2021, Miami, Fla.), the third-ranked player in the class of 2021 rankings and a Miami commit, only saw action in Monday’s semifinal, but his seven strikeouts in five innings of work earned him the Most Valuable Pitcher of the tournament.

“I saw some good hitters, (Canes Black 2020) had some big guys and warming up in the bullpen I was a little off,” Rosario said. “Once I got out there, I think I threw first-pitch strikes to all but two batters. I felt good with my fastball and my breaking ball today was really good. It was a good outing.”

Rosario’s performance capped off a stellar few months of ball, which included an appearance at the 14u PG Select Baseball Festival over Labor Day weekend.

“That was a fun experience, it was such good competition with some of the best players in the country all together,” Rosario added. “It’s been fun playing in all of the big events that I’ve been able to be in this year.”

Some participants from this event will be making their way over to Jupiter and West Palm Beach next weekend at the WWBA World Championship and the WWBA Freshman World Championship, with action beginning on Thursday and Friday respectively.

2017 WWBA Sophomore World Championship runner-up: Florida Burn Platinum

2017 WWBA Sophomore World Championship MVP: Kolbe Aven

2017 WWBA Sophomore World Championship MV-Pitcher: Alejandro Rosario

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