Tournaments | Story | 7/22/2018

17u PGWS celebrates its final-4

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Glenallen Hill Jr. (Bill Mitchell)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Just about everyone watching Sunday afternoon’s playoff quarterfinal-round games at the 17u Perfect Game World Series would have been in agreement that there was one monumental upset that pushed the No. 1 seed to the sidelines while allowing the No. 8 seed to advance.

Just don’t let Pleasanton, Calif.-based NorCal Baseball general manager/manager Rob Bruno hear any mention of “upset” when the conversation turns to his No. 8 NorCal 2019 team coming from behind to knock off No. 1 CBA Marucci, 6-4, in one of the quarters played on the Padres’ side of the Peoria Sports Complex.

“This was not an upset to our team. We feel we’re the best team here and we really don’t care who we play,” Bruno told PG Sunday. “I know that everybody (knows about) CBA and they’ve had success but we felt we were the better team coming in.”

Regardless of anyone’s opinion on who was the better team, NorCal 2019 (5-1-0) used the win to advance to Monday’s 17u PGWS final-four. It will face the No. 4 Playa Vista Orioles (5-1-0) out of Los Angeles in one of the semifinals at 8 a.m. (PDT) on the Mariners’ side of the PSC.

No. 6 USA Prime Elite 17u Gowins (5-1-0) from Carrollton, Texas, faces the No. 2 Trosky National Team 17u (4-1-0) out of Los Angeles in the other semifinal, also at 8 a.m. on the Mariners’ side. The championship game is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the PSC Stadium.

Temecula, Calif.-based CBA Marucci (4-1-0) had displayed such dominance in reaching the quarterfinals that it looked unbeatable. It earned the No. 1 seed by outscoring its four pool-play opponents by a combined 41-1.

The Maruccis arrived in the desert with a roster that included many players who were a part of the CBA Marucci National team that was co-champs at the PG 17u WWBA National Championship a month ago over in Georgia.

The CBA Marucci coaching staff led by CBA program director/manager Jon Paino came into the 17u PGWS knowing he had a special group, consisting of players that had come up through CBA’s youth programs and regional teams.

Paino said their play coming into the quarterfinal contest had exceeded his expectations as the coach but probably had not exceeded the expectations the players had for themselves.

“It’s been fun,” he added. “We get to come out here and play against some really good teams (and) really good competition in front of all kinds of professional scouts and college guys. It’s just been a lot of fun.”

The quarterfinal against NorCal 2019 started out being pretty fun, too, with CBA leading 1-0 after two innings and 4-1 after four. NorCal plated a run in the top of the fifth to make it 4-2 and that’s where it stood heading into the top of the seventh.

Brock Jones smacked a one-out single to get the rally started, and three straight walks forced in a run to make it 4-3. Up stepped top 2019 middle-infielder Glenallen Hill Jr, who delivered a two-out triple that cleared the bases and put NorCal up for good at 6-4.

Bruno described the players rostered on this NorCal 2019 team as a “very close group” that has been together for the last three years. He said they have made bonds and friendships that will last for a lifetime and have shown that they are willing to go out of their way to play for one another and not themselves. Teams like that have a track record of winning championships.

“This team is run by the players, not the coaches,” he said. “It’s a culture fostered by some guys like Bill Bartlett, (Glenallen) Hill, Brock Jones. These kids are special human beings and I really attribute it to the leadership of those kids and some others; they’ll never quit.”

Hill Jr. is the son of a former big-leaguer by the same name and is ranked 112th nationally; he’s committed to Arizona State. William Bartlett is a 2019 top-500 uncommitted catcher/first baseman and Jones is an uncommitted 2019 outfielder/first baseman/left-hander who is ranked 89th.

Heading into the semis, Bartlett, Ethan Cloyd and Brady Hormel each have six hits: Cloyd has three doubles and three RBI, Bartlett two doubles and five runs scored and Hormel a double, three RBI and three runs. Nick Vogt has five hits, including a double and a triple, with three RBI and four runs; Carter Benbrook has five hits with two doubles and five RBI.

“We expected to win this tournament,” Bruno said. “I know we’re still just going into the semifinals but this is the tightest group of players that I’ve had in 26 years. They’re special character kids who compare very favorably to my class of 2005 that had six major-leaguers.”

Bruno said NorCal is going to send 2019 top-500 left-hander Peter Hansen – a Texas commit – out to the mound for Monday's semifinal matchup with the Playa Vista Orioles. The NorCal 2019s seem to have plenty of options with 13 top-500s – including the No. 89 Jones, No. 91 Joseph King (Washington State), and the No. 112 Hill Jr – on the roster; 11 NorCal prospects have committed to NCAA Division I schools.

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