Tournaments | Championship | 10/23/2017

Canes Prospects rule in Jupiter

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

JUPITER, Fla. – At the risk of going overboard with worn-out battlefield clichés, Monday’s marathon championship game at the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship at the Roger Dean Stadium Complex truly did involve plenty of guts and glory combined with equal parts of fatigue and attrition.

Nearly 3½ hours after the first pitch was thrown in the title tilt between the No. 28-seeded Canes Prospects and the No. 11 FTB/SF Giants Scout Team at Field 4 on the Marlins’ side of the complex, a cease-fire of sorts was observed and a champion was crowned.

Truth be told – and be forewarned another worn-out cliché is in the offing – there was no loser on this partly cloudy, windy but quite pleasant day at a site not far from Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

The Canes Prospects’ Tucker Flint hit a hard, one-out groundball single into right field that chased home a run in the top of the second extra inning to lift the young Prospects to an 8-7, nine-inning victory over the more veteran FTB /SF Giants. This marks the fourth time in the last five years a team from the Virginia-based Canes Baseball organization has won the championship at the PG WWBA World.

The epic championship game put to bed a nine-hour day in which both the Canes Prospects (7-1-0) and the FTB/SF Giants (7-1-0) had played and won two games in the hours leading up to the final. Both teams had also played three games on Sunday, so it went without saying that pitching was at a premium.

“This group … I’ve had them all year and they’re just winners; they compete, and they’ve got tons of heart,” Canes Prospects head coach Mike Petty said. “They’re all 2019s and it’s awesome what they’re capable of doing.”

What a wild and wacky, back-and-forth affair the championship game turned out to be. The Prospects were up 4-0 after 2½ innings and 4-3 after three, but the SF Giants enjoyed precarious leads of 5-4 after four and 7-6 after five. The game was tied 7-7 after six innings and it stayed that way until Flint delivered in the top of the ninth.

“I was just trying to drive the ball; put it in play,” he said. “I got the pitch I needed, and I put a good swing on it.”

The Prospects rattled the beleaguered FTB/SF Giants’ pitching staff for 14 hits – CJ Rodriguez scored the eventual winning run after smacking a double in front of Flint’s single – and Flint was a key contributor with a 3-for-5 effort, driving in the run and scoring another one.

Andrew Compton was 4-for-5 – four singles – and scored two runs, Patrick Alvarez was 2-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run and Rodriguez finished 2-for-5 with a double, two RBI and a run. The four pitchers Petty used combined on an eight-hitter with 2019 left-hander Tyler Kehoe picking up the win after working the final four, two-hit, shutout innings.

The FTB/SF Giants ST totaled eight hits, led by Riley Greene’s two singles and three RBI, and Jarrett Ford’s 2-for-3 effort that included a double, an RBI and a run scored. The FTB/Giants coaching staff used six pitchers, none of whom worked more than 2 1/3 innings.

“We came into today and we were in the same situation that we had a couple of weeks ago at a different tournament,” Flint said. “We were just like, we’re the youngest team out here so let’s just do what we can. Let’s go as far as we can – no one expects us to go anywhere – so we got here and everything went perfect.”

The Canes Prospects were an underclass team in this sea of high school seniors with a 22-man roster that included 20 2019s (juniors) and two 2020s (sophomores). Ironically, or perhaps coincidentally, their only loss over the weekend came on Sunday morning when they were playing for the Pool L championship against another 2-0-0 team, the FTB/SF Giants Scout Team.

Yes, the two finalists came out of the same pool with FTB winning the championship because of its 5-3 win over the Canes, and the Prospects gaining one of 10 at-large berths into the playoffs. The pool-play game was important in terms of bracket-play seeding but really all it did was show just how evenly matched these two teams were.

“That wasn’t on our mind at all,” Petty said of the pool-play loss. “That game, honestly, was probably the worst game we had played here. We dropped a fly ball that ended up costing us two runs and we had another error that cost us a run, and we lost by two runs; that wasn’t on our minds at all.”

Perfect Game All-American Preston Hartsell, a 6-foot, 195-pound left-handed swinging outfield and Southern Cal commit from Versailles Newport Coast, Calif., was 1-for-3 with an RBI in the championship game. He finished the tournament 8-for-19 (.421) with two doubles, a triple and seven RBI and was named the Most Valuable Player.

Canes Prospects 2019 top-500 and uncommitted right-hander Dylan Delucia from Port Orange, Fla., pitched 11 2/3 innings over two appearances and gave up only one earned run on nine hits while striking out 17 and walking three; he was named the tournament's Most Valuable Pitcher.

“We came into the tournament and everybody was doubting us because we were the (Canes) 2019s,” Delucia said. “When (pool-play) ended, we were like, ‘Alright, let’s step it up, let’s make this trip worth it.’ We said why don’t we just give it 100 percent and just go at it.”

This was an important outcome for both programs. Florida-based FTB is one of the most respected travel ball organizations in the country and was on the verge of capturing its first PG WWBA World Championship crown in its first championship game appearance, but came up just inches short.

Canes Baseball is riding an unprecedented high in the nearly 20-year history of the event, and when its top underclass team can win the title here, it has to give the other 87 teams in the field reason to pause looking ahead to 2018.

“For most of these kids, we come down here and it’s really just kind of to get their feet wet,” Petty said. “We kind of think to ourselves, let’s get out of pool-play and just try to do the best that we can and these guys – most of them it's their first time here – and it’s incredible (what they’ve accomplished).

“There’s just a lot of heart in this group,” he added. “A lot of people thought we didn’t belong here, but you couldn’t tell these kids that. … This whole team will be coming back. My brother (Jeff Petty) owns the organization and he coaches the older team, and he’s going to inherit a great group of kids.”

Mike Petty's young players agreed:

“This was awesome,” Flint said through a smile. “I’ve never seen anything like it with the scouts and everything at every game; it’s really amazing. Hopefully this group comes back (next year) and everything goes well again.”

“I’ve never been here, and I’ve never played in a tournament like this; it was truly a blessing to witness,” Delucia said. “The experience with the Canes, with the trip here, everything was 100 percent amazing. There’s not one place I’d rather be than here.”

A pair of long semifinal games preceded the championship game, with the FTB/SF Giants pushing past the No. 18 Ohio Warhawks, 11-5, and the Canes Prospects outlasting the AZ D-Backs Scout Team, 3-1 in 11 innings.

The FTB/SF Giants hammered out 13 hits in their win over the Warhawks (6-1-0). Riley Greene singled three times, drove in four runs and scored one; both Hartsell and Kendrick Calileo tripled, drove in two runs and scored one; Nander De Sedas singled twice, drove in a run and scored one, and Isaiah Thomas singled twice and scored twice.

Griffin Zito doubled, singled and scored a run, and Jacob Godman singled twice and scored a run to lead the Warhawks.

Cortland Larson came through with an RBI single that broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the 11th  and Patrick Alvarez stepped in and brought him home with a line-drive triple to right field to lift the Prospects past the D-Backs (6-1-0).

Delucia was spot-on in his 7 2/3 innings of work, allowing only one unearned run on six hits while striking out eight and walking one. Tyler Nesbitt, another 2019 righty, took care of business over the final 3 1/3 shutout innings, giving up just one hit while striking out two and walking one.

AZ D-Backs Scout Team 2018 right-handers Hayden Baker and Abraham DeLeon along with 2018 lefty Cole Yocum combined to limit the Prospects to just one run on four hits over the first eight innings of play. Jonathan Ornelas and Jonny Weaver each singled twice to lead the D-Backs at the plate.

In quarterfinal play Monday morning, the Ohio Warhawks whacked the No. 7 Canes American (5-1-0), 9-0 in five innings; the Canes Prospects downed the No. 20 Dallas Tigers (4-2-0), 4-1; the FTB/Giants escaped the No. 14 Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team (4-1-1), 2-1 in eight innings and the AZ D-Backs ST held off the No. 1 East Coast Sox Select (5-1-0), 8-5.

Highlights from the quarters include:

  • Drew Hamrock was 3-for-3 with two triples and two RBI, Tyler Tolve was 3-for-3 with two RBI, Buddy Floyd tripled and drove in three and Luke Boyton hit a two-run home run to lift the Warhawks; 2018 right-hander Peyton Berry threw a five-inning, five-hit shutout.
  • 2019 right-hander Jack Jasiek threw a complete-game two-hitter with six strikeouts and now walks in the Canes Prospects’ wins; he needed just 74 pitches in the effort.
  • Alec Sanchez delivered an RBI single to left field with the bases loaded and one-out under the tie-breaker rule in the bottom of the eighth to send the FTB/Giants to the win. 2018 right-handers Angel Tiburcio and T.J. Brock combined on a nine-strikeout, five-hitter threw six innings, and 2018 righty Kerry Wright threw two no-hit, four-strikeout, no walks innings to finish it.
  • The D-Backs ST used eight singles to score their eight runs and pull out the win. Griffin Hampton smacked a pair of them and drove in two runs, and C.J. Schauwecker singled once and drove in two.

2017 WWBA World Championship runner-up: FTB/SF Giants Scout Team

2017 WWBA World Championship MVP: Preston Hartsell

2017 WWBA World Championship MV-Pitcher: Dylan Delucia

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