Tournaments | Story | 10/23/2017

Dirtbags freshmen reign supreme

Bryan Cooney        
Photo: Perfect Game

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Tommy Hawke’s walk-off double capped off a perfect week for the Dirtbags as they went 3-0 in pool play, went into the playoffs as the top overall seed and emerged victorious in the championship game of the 2017 WWBA Freshman World Championship, defeating Canes Black 2021 6-5 at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

“I just saw the center fielder running back and I put my hands up going around first,” Hawke said of his winning hit. “I thought I knew it right when I hit it. I’ve never had a hit that big in my life. We really hit and pitched well and just put it all together to win it all.”

The championship game featured multiple lead changes and back and forth action, all starting with Dirtbags righthander Brandon Hudson (2021, Waxhaw, N.C.) looking strong early, striking out the side in the first.

His teammates would give him plenty of early run support in the home half as Hawke (2021, Oak Island, N.C.) bounced a single up the middle to lead the inning off and moved to third on a hot shot to second off the bat of Jacob Orr (2021, Frederick, Md.) that kicked into center field to set the table for Joshua Hartle.

Hartle (2021, King, N.C.) had a great approach the other way, dropping a single to left-center field to bring in Hawke to make it 1-0. Cooper George (2021, Okatie, S.C.) would follow up with another nice piece of hitting, lining a single the opposite way to right-center that scored two more runs to make it a three-run first for the Dirtbags.

The Canes had a golden chance to capitalize on three walks from Hudson that loaded the bases in the second with one out, and Jaxon Masterson (2021, Raleigh, N.C.) worked a fourth straight walk to force in a run.

Jeremy Beamon (2021, Charlotte, N.C.) greeted George, who came to the hill in relief of Hudson, with a single through the right side that brought in two runs to square the game at three apiece.

Payton Green (2021, Cary, N.C.), who had come on in relief for Canes in the first inning, was able to keep the Dirtbags’ bats at bay up until the fifth. In the fifth, Jacob Cozart (2021, High Point, N.C.) lined a two-out single to right that scored Carter Holton (2021, Guyton, Ga.) from second to put the Dirtbags back up 4-3.

That lead was short-lived as the Canes got a leadoff double into the left field corner from Ryan Williams (2021, Kansas City, Mo.) and two wild pitches allowed him to score and tie the game at four. After Green lined a two-out single to center, pinch hitter Cyle Phelan (2021, Fuquay-Varina, N.C.) launched a shot to right-center field that no one could run down and Green was able to motor all the way from first to put the Canes up 5-4.

Heading to the bottom of the seventh with the Canes still holding their one-run advantage, Gregory Clucas (2021, Wilmington, N.C.) was called in to try and close the game out. The Dirtbags got their leadoff man on as Holton reached on a fielding error, and got another free baserunner after Cozart was hit by a pitch.

Down to their final out, Joshua Deslauriers (2021, Greensboro, N.C.) fell behind 0-2 but was able to drop in a soft liner to center that brought in Holton to tie the game at five. Hawke, the next batter attacked on the first offering from Clucas and drilled a shot that eluded the Canes’ center fielder to allow pinch runner Zackery Middleton (2021, King, N.C.) to race home and set off a frenzied celebration.

“This group has been together now the past two to three summers with some kids here and there coming aboard and they came up just short at the Memorial Day event this summer at LakePoint,” Dirtbags coach Ray Allen said. “It was great for the kids to get to finish this one off. Tommy (Hawke) had an outstanding tournament as did a lot of guys throughout the lineup.”

“It was a great way to end a lot of baseball they’ve played this summer and in the fall as they go get ready for their high school seasons.”

Hawke was named the MVP of the tournament, with not only the heroics in the championship game factoring in, as the Dirtbags’ leadoff man collected 11 hits in 23 at-bats, good for a .478 average. Hawke had four doubles, a triple and drove in four runs and also added five stolen bases.

Many of Hawke’s teammates also had strong showings offensively as Orr (10-for-20 with six RBI) and George (8-for-16 with five RBI) batted .500 and Holton picked up nine hits in 20 at-bats, good for a .450 average. Cozart led the Dirtbags with seven RBI for the tournament.

The two teams reached the championship final with two lefthanders tossing excellent games in the semifinals. Joshua Hartle, who starred at the plate in the championship game, carried a no-hitter with two outs in the seventh and struck out 10 in the 4-1 victory over 5 Star National Gold and Jordan Izzary (2021, Virginia Beach, Va.) fired four scoreless innings with four strikeouts in the Canes’ 9-0 victory over Diamond Jacks Super 15.

Brogan Napier (2021, Saint Augustine, Fla.) of 5 Star National lined an RBI single to center which erased the no-no and the shutout bid for Hartle, as the big lefthander was masterful using a fastball/curveball combination that the opposing hitters simply couldn’t figure out.

For his terrific performance in the Dirtbag’s semifinal victory, Hartle picked up the Most Valuable Pitcher for the event as he also added two more strikeouts in an earlier outing in the tournament to give him 12 strikeouts in eight innings of work.

“I actually had a little bit of trouble in the bullpen and in the game I still walked two guys and hit two batters, Hartle said of his performance. “But all in all it was a really good outing when I got it going.”

George starred at the plate for the Dirtbags in the semifinal win, collecting three hits and an RBI.

In the Canes’ 9-0 semifinal victory, Izzary and Nick Morgan (2021, Cataula, Ga.), who pitched the final inning, combined for the shutout and got a lot of help from Ethan Ott (2021, Chesapeake, Va.), who was in the middle of the action offensively for the Canes. Ott’s RBI double in the first opened the scoring and his leadoff double in the fourth started a four-run inning that blew the game wide open.

2017 WWBA Freshman World Championship runner-up: Canes Black 2021

2017 WWBA Freshman World Championship MVP: Tommy Hawke

2017 WWBA Freshman World Championship MV-Pitcher: Joshua Hartle

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