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Tournaments | Story | 7/18/2018

Team Nike holding strong

Bryan Cooney        
Photo: Jonathan Dube (Perfect Game)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – One of the prominent programs in the Northeast is making some noise at the 16u BCS National Championship as Team Nike New England, part of the Seacoast United organization based in New Hampshire, has rattled off four wins in five games heading into the final day of pool play leading up to playoff bracket competition.

With two victories on Wednesday following up their lone defeat late Tuesday afternoon, Team Nike sits in good shape to continue the good form that the organization has shown during the summer.

At the 17u WWBA Championship earlier this month, Team Nike’s Class of 2019 roster made a run into the second round of the playoffs at LakePoint. The youngest Team Nike club also survived the first round of pool play to advance to the next stage as the New England Prospects have made a nice showing at the 16u BCS National Championship.

The top team led by Scott Dubben, who is the Director of Baseball for Seacoast United’s baseball division, has seen the progression from year to year bringing teams down to LakePoint and Fort Myers, with each year being better in terms of stacking up well against the top clubs in the country.

“We’re getting more competitive, absolutely,” Dubben said. “When I started the program, I wanted to bring the kids out here to show them what they are up against because with our little bubble up north, our kids think they’re really good. We’ve got to challenge ourselves and get out of New England and come down south to play in these big championships. The kids see how good these teams are and when they go back home, they want to work harder.”

The national public has seen players from the Northeast such as World Series MVP George Springer and Game 7 hero Charlie Morton from the defending world champion Houston Astros, who each grew up playing in Connecticut. Former three-time all-star pitcher Chris Carpenter hails from New Hampshire, far from the standard places where baseball’s best hone their skills on their way to the top of the game. However, with more and more programs making baseball a priority in colder weather states, an influx of talent from places like the Northeast are becoming more frequent.

Dubben’s organization gets to utilize multiple indoor facilities in the New England area, creating an environment that breeds more skilled players that have the ability to come to Perfect Game events and not look overmatched once they go up against higher caliber competition.

“Our program has 5-6 facilities that we can utilize, and it really does go a long way,” Dubben said. “I remember our first year we came down here, we won only one game. We couldn’t hit 85 mph pitching because our kids had never seen it, but now 3-4 years later, we’ve seen a lot of that and we are able to compete. New England baseball has come a long way, and we’re representing our region well.”

Through five games at the 16u BCS National Championship, the entire Team Nike offense has been contributing with five players sporting .400 averages or better.

Jonathan Dube (2019, Gonic, N.H.), Garett Langis (2020, Rochester, N.H.) and Dan Sims (2019, Sanbornville, N.H.) each have six hits, with Dube leading the club with five RBI. Alec Lawry (2020, Exeter, N.H.) and William Maclean (2020, Exeter, N.H.) both have five hits in 11 at-bats, giving Team Nike the depth you need in a lineup that can hold up as the competition wears on against tougher pitching staffs.

On the mound, Team Nike has used multiple arms to spread the workload, but Sims produced the best start out of the rotation with a six-inning effort and surrendering just two hits in an 8-2 victory over Florida Burn 2020 UHit on Monday.

As the lone player committed to a program at the moment, Garret Roberts (UMass-Lowell, 2019, Stratham, N.H.) has had a strong week defensively in center field, has touched 85 mph in relief and provided the big hit early on in Team Nike’s 9-1 win over FTB Gulf Coast in their afternoon game on Wednesday. In that contest Roberts lined a two-run double into the right-center field gap in a five-run second inning for the New England-based program.

With the prospect of going head-to-head against the top programs left in the field, Team Nike can lock up a spot in the playoff bracket with a victory Thursday afternoon with a matchup against Knights Prime Nation 2020. Having seen what his club has done to this point, Dubben believes that he has the team to continue to build upon what has been a successful trek to Fort Myers already.

“Everyone’s contributed to this point, we’re swinging the bat well,” Dubben said. “The one thing we do struggle with is the fact that we don’t have 20 guys on our roster with guys that only pitch. We try to mix and match the best we can with the PitchSmart guidelines. I think we’re set up okay for Friday and Saturday, but we need to plan on winning tomorrow to make sure we get there.

“We’ll have guys on rest ready that threw earlier in the tournament, but I’m happy where we are, we’re looking pretty good.”

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