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Tournaments | Story | 7/21/2018

Trosky lands in 17u WS playoffs

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Nathan Martorella (Perfect Game)

PEORIA, Ariz. – All 35 teams that first invaded the Peoria Sports Complex on Thursday accepted their invitation to the exclusive 17u Perfect Game World Series intent on leaving the Valley of the Sun Monday afternoon shortly after their players and coaches had been fitted for PG national championship rings.

Trosky National Team 17u, with is base of operations in Monterey, Calif,, can certainly be counted among the teams with national championship aspirations. It split a pair of pool-play games on Saturday which allowed it to claim one of the 14 berths in Sunday’s 17u PGWS playoffs.

Reaching bracket-play was certainly a goal of Trosky’s coming in -- it ended up as the No, 2 playoff seed -- but now it’s been replaced by the goal of making a deep run into bracket-play. That thought had everyone associated with the team chomping at the bit to be here in the first place.

“This was marked on our calendars as a big event that we knew we had to show up for and then show well in,” Trosky National Team 17u head coach Abe Ruiz told PG on Saturday, a couple of hours after the 14 teams playing early games on both the Mariners’ and Padres’ side of the complex had waited through an hour-long lightning delay.

“These guys have been excited about it for the last couple of months when they found out they had been selected for the (Trosky) National Team,” Ruiz said.

Yes, there was lightning – and some rain showers – in the desert Saturday morning, but not enough to dampen the enthusiasm the players on the Trosky National Team had for being here this weekend. Even after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Texas-based Premier Baseball Futures to start the day, they knew there was still plenty to play for.

“There are a lot of scouts out here so we’re going to play hard and see what we can do in front of them,” 2019 middle-infielder Nico Marinconz said Saturday. “We’ve never really played together (as a team) and we’ve got guys from all across the country, and it’s fun to play with them and it’s good to be out here.”

The Trosky National Team 17u’s won their pool with a 3-1-0 record, outscoring their opponents, 23-6. They hit .360 as a team – Jake Tsukada was 6-for-11 (.545) with two doubles and an RBI; Nathan Martorella was 4-for-12 (.333) with a triple and three RBI; Marinconz went 4-for-13 (.308) with a double and two RBI and Trevor Hinkel was 3-for-8 (.375) with three RBI – and eight pitchers combined to allow just three earned runs in 24 innings (0.88 ERA).

“We have a lot of new faces but it’s all come together and now we’re playing together (as a team).” Martorella told PG on Saturday. “We’re jelling, so that when one person gets a good hit we all start getting good hits; we pick each other up and stuff like that.”

While the Trosky Baseball organization has established roots in California's Central Coast region – and this Trosky National Team 17u roster is built with California prospects at its core – there are players from Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii (Tsukada) and Oregon added to the mix.

Several of Trosky Baseball’s top 17u players weren’t able to be here due to other commitments but there certainly some very good ones here.

Catcher/utility/right-hander Brant Voth is the highest nationally ranked 2019 at No. 267, and eight other 2019s are ranked as top-500s: Hinkel (Pepperdine commit), Martorella (California), Marinconz (Cal Poly), Austin Raleigh (UNLV), Sean McLain, Artie Ramirez, Graham Osman, and Jake Connelly; 2020 Arizona State commit Hunter Barnhart is a top-500 in his class.

Luke Spillane (UC Irvine) and Dylan Beavers (Cal) are a couple of 2019s not ranked in the top-500 but ones who have made noteworthy college commitments.

“This is a talented group,” Ruiz said. “We have a lot of high-level players, and obviously that’s what we’re seeing out here on the other side. It’s a good opportunity for our guys to measure themselves against the best of the best in the country. … We’ve got a good group and we’re competing our tails off and that’s really all you can ask for as a coach.”

When a young player comes into the Trosky Baseball program, the first thing the coaches and directors emphasize is the sixth tool: the mental game. They want grinders – baseball rats – guys that are playing the game the right way and know the situations that constantly change during the course of a ballgame.

“A big part of what we preach is that mental toughness,” Ruiz said. “Obviously, scouts and (college) coaches are out here to see how hard you throw, how well do you run, how do swing it, but that separator from good to great is that sixth tool.

“That mental tool is going to separate you from being a decent college player to now you’re a big-leaguer just by your mental toughness.”

Marinconz has been a part of the Trosky Baseball program for three years now and calls it an excellent fit: “I wouldn’t be here without them, obviously,” he said. “They pushed me to a level that helped me get into college, so they’ve helped me a lot. … They tell us to get better every day and try to reach the (highest) level that you can.”

Trosky National Team 17u’s four pool-play games were against Canes National 17u (Virginia), Team Ohio Pro Select (Ohio), Premier Baseball Futures (Texas) and Team California 17u (Calif.), and Ruiz liked what that schedule had to offer. Those are the types of teams from diverse geographical regions that can provide a level of competition the Trosky Nationals don’t see every day.

“Most of these guys are from California and we want them to see the SEC commits, the ACC commits,” Ruiz said. “We have a lot of West Coast school commits, and it’s a good opportunity for them to measure themselves against the rest of the country. …

“We’ve played really, really good programs from different regions and it’s a good experience for our mostly California/West Coast guys to see what’s baseball like in other parts of the county.”

Added Martorella: “A lot of it is learning and adapting to different players. You try to see how good they are and then try to show what you can do. … It’s fun just to see how your talent compares to everyone else.”

This has been a long summer for every one of the athletes competing at the 17u PGWS, quite a few of the guys playing for the Trosky Nationals will leave here with their eyes on the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Fla. Ruiz strongly believes that an event such as this one will challenge his players and provide an opportunity for them to learn something about themselves as competitors.

“That’s what coaches are looking for at the next level,” he said. “They want winners, they want guys who compete, guys who are going to battle and grind it out. We hope that’s what our guys are learning here this week, is that they just can’t go through the motions and walk out of here with a victory.”

The players that took to the field for the Trosky National Team 17u the last three days could never be accused of going through the motions, not even in their one loss, a game they had several opportunities to win.

“We’ve all been looking forward to it because we’ were here (at an event) a month ago and we didn’t do as good as we wanted to,” Martorella said. “So, we wanted to come here and put on a good show.”

And that show goes on for the Trosky Nationals on Saturday with the start of the 14-team playoffs. They head into bracket-play with a pretty full head of steam and seem to playing with a relaxed sense of confidence.

“We just need to be at our best, play well,” Marinconz said, before adding with a laugh, “and maybe get lucky, I guess.” Pulling up a chair for Lady Luck and sitting it by your side will never hurt a thing.

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