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Tournaments | Story | 7/8/2018

5 Star sprints to 14u BCS title

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: 5 Star-14u King (Perfect Game)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Eager to put a capper on a seven-day Perfect Game 14u BCS National Championship that at times became a marathon over its first six days, 5 Star-14u King decided to sprint to the finish line Sunday morning at jetBlue Park.

No. 2-seed 5 Star-14u King (9-0-0) jumped out to a 4-1 lead three innings in and, behind the workman-like precision of starting pitcher Thomas Hoff, rode that early lead to a 4-2 victory over the No. 5 East Cobb Astros 14u (9-1-0) in the championship game; the finale wrapped-up in a snappy 1-hour, 20-minutes, in a game played at the MLB spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.

“We were just ready to come out here and play a team that we knew was good, but we were really ready to play them,” 2022 RBI-machine Nick Wrubluski said. “We got in a rhythm and were throwing strikes and getting outs (pretty) easy.”

The ability of the 5 Stars to get into its peppy rhythm was the direct result of the job Hoff did on the mound. A 5-foot-8, 135-pound right-hander, he worked quickly and efficiently, and threw plenty of strikes while using a 70-mph fastball and 60 mph curveball to keep the talented Astros 14u hitters off balance.

He delivered a complete game, six-strikeout, no-walk six-hitter and – working with that early lead – threw 72 percent of his 97 pitches for strikes.

“This group is special, and they came out with a lot of energy from the beginning; we talked about it throughout the whole tournament,” 5 Star head coach Eric Hurley said. “We came out hot and we scored some runs early, and Thomas pitched a heck of a baseball game.”

The 5 Stars (Jacksonville, Fla.) bolted to a 2-0 first-inning lead thanks to an RBI single from Hoff and a run-scoring fielder’s choice groundout from Wrubluski; Andrew Tabor contributed an RBI single in the second.

Hoff led off the third with a walk, stole second and came around to score on a single from Wrubluski. A 5-foot-10, 165-pound 2022 catcher from Jacksonville, Fla., Wrubluski went 8-for-21 (.381) with a double and 10 RBI over the course of the week and was named the Most Valuable Player.

“It’s the best,” he said of his experience here. “This is so much fun playing against everyone and getting all the wins; (5 Star) is the best thing ever.”

The Astros 14u (Kennesaw, Ga.) scored single runs in the top-halves of both the second and seventh innings. Thaddeus Ector and Trey Sanders hit back-to-back, one-out singles in the second and Kain Collins chased Ector home with a single of his own. The run in the seventh came courtesy of a hit batsman, a fielding error and a fielder’s choice pop-out from Sanders.

Astros 14u 2022 right-hander Dylan Lesko was literally unhittable this past week here in Southwest Florida. A 6-foot-2, 170-pounder from Buford, Ga., Lesko pitched nine hitless, shutout innings over four appearances, striking out 14 and walking five; he was named the Most Valuable Pitcher.

2022 catcher Jared Jones also turned in an MVP-caliber performance for the Astros 14u, batting 10-for-23 (.435) with four doubles, a triple, eight RBI and seven stolen bases.

But this day belonged to 5 Star-14u King, and Hurley knows the reward is a result of hard work and the ability to turn a marathon into a sprint. In fact, there were a few moments in the top of the fifth inning when it looked like the only thing that might derail 5 Star-14u King was a rogue swarm of honey bees that momentarily forced the team from the third base dugout.

“They’ve gotten a lot better,” he said. “They’ve put a lot of hours in everywhere from the gym to the field. They came together and they’ve been playing some good baseball lately. It’s a special group; it’s fun to be a part of.”

Although every player on this 5 Star-14u King roster is a 2022, Hurley added that some of them could hook-on with one of the half-dozen 5 Star teams that will play at the PG 15u WWBA National Championship up in the Atlanta area July 13-20.

“It’s going to be a good time,” he said. “5 Star is a special place to play, without a doubt.”

2018 14u BCS National Championship runner-up: East Cobb Astros 14u

2018 14u BCS National Championship MVP: Nick Wrubluski

2018 14u BCS National Championship MV-Pitcher: Dylan Lesko

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