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Tournaments | Story | 10/1/2018

Coastal Prospects take Florida

Bryan Cooney        
Photo: Coastal Prospects Upperclass (Perfect Game)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Kobe Branch (2019, Orange Park, Fla.) tossed a six-hit shutout and contributed the go-ahead RBI double in the fourth inning to cap off a week of perfection for the Coastal Prospects Underclass at the WWBA Florida Qualifier.  With the win, a 4-0 victory over FTB Tucci 55, the Coastal Prospects secured a spot with a paid invitation to the WWBA World Championship to be held in Jupiter, Fla. in late October.

Throughout the week, the Prospects had received excellent pitching leading up to Monday’s early morning semifinal matchup. In the five games building up to the final day only seven runs were surrendered by the staff. Austin Hollis (2019, Jacksonville, Fla.) and Zach Mercer (2019, Fleming Island, Fla.) combined for 10 1/3 innings and a lone earned run between them in their first two playoff victories on Sunday.

The Prospects needed its staff when it mattered most in their semifinal game against Florida Burn 2019 Premier. The two teams were tied after seven innings and extra innings would decide who would play for the championship.

D’Emiliano Whiters (2019, Palm Coast, Fla.) came out of the bullpen in the fifth inning for the Prospects after Cameron Terrian (2019, Navarre, Fla.) went the first four innings. Whiters was brilliant with four scoreless frames before the Burn picked up a run in the 10th. That run was answered as Whiters helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, and after he kept the Burn off the board in the 11th, Branch’s RBI infield single sent the Prospects to the title game.

FTB Tucci 55’s roster was littered with college commitments left and right and also had a stingy pitching staff lead them to the championship game. In their 3-1 semifinal victory over Scorpions 2019 Founders Club, Kevin Melendez (2019, Kissimmee, Fla.) and Anthony Martens (2019, Port St. Lucie, Fla.) combined to allow just three hits to set up a much-anticipated championship game bout.

Branch and FTB starter Mitchell Fairgrieve (2019, St. Johns, Fla.) matched zeroes through three innings, but the Prospects went ahead in the fourth with Branch’s double, which scored Mercer against FTB reliever Abdiel Camacho.

In the fifth, Jacob Bennett (2019, St. Johns, Fla.) led off the inning with a double for the Prospects. With the bases loaded and nobody out he would come in to score on a Hollis RBI squeeze bunt to make it 2-0 Prospects.

Ethan Jenkins (2019, Jacksonville, Fla.) added on another run with an RBI single to left and Whiters made it a three-run inning with a sacrifice fly to left. With a 4-0 lead, Branch navigated through some traffic on the bases in the final two innings unscathed to wrap up long weekend of games for the Prospects with a coveted ticket to Jupiter.

For his efforts on the mound in the semifinal and his prowess at the plate for the seven games (8-for-19, five stolen bases and seven RBI), Whiters was selected as the event’s Most Valuable Player.

Branch’s sterling championship game performance made him a deserving pick for MV-Pitcher honors as he ended up scattering six hits over his seven innings and finished with four strikeouts for the Prospects.

2018 WWBA Florida Qualifier runner-up: FTB Tucci 55

2018 WWBA Florida Qualifier MVP: D'Emiliano Whiters

2018 WWBA Florida Qualifier MV-Pitcher: Kobe Branch

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