Tournaments | Story | 10/14/2018

Canes earn Ways to Play title

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Canes National (Perfect Game)

EMERSON, Ga. – In a weekend where there were not only elite players from elite teams, but there was a good amount of experimentation and situational baseball as the Ways to Play powered by MLB and PG ended with the Canes National outlasting MLB Breakthrough Series by a final score of 6-4. Both teams had shown the highest of highs throughout the weekend and look to be nicely prepared for the WWBA World Championship next weekend in Jupiter, Fla.

Both teams had taken pretty different routes to arrive in the championship. The Canes had beaten every team up to that point in a run-rule victory, a dominant combination of offense and pitching while MLB Breakthrough used pitching to suffocate offenses before the semifinals where there were late game heroics.

The game started off slowly with each starter, Nick Hoffmann and DJ Jefferson of the Canes and MLB Breakthrough respectively, limiting the opposing offenses to an even draw through the third inning. In the top of the fourth, Andrew Compton roped a single to right field that brought home the first run of the game; MLB Breakthrough would respond quickly, however, as a sacrifice fly and an Aaron Roberts RBI single would give MLB Breakthrough the lead.

The Canes struck right back thanks to the performance of the tournament Most Valuable Player, Corbin Carroll. The lefthanded hitter drove a fastball deep to right centerfield that struck one of the shopping kiosks beyond the field of play. Carroll is an elite draft prospect as the No. 8 overall player in the 2019 class and Coach Jeff Petty was very impressed with his play throughout the weekend.

“I think what you see is for him (Carroll) to go dead center on a home run and then the very next at-bat hit a line drive over the shortstop’s head, that shows you he’s really trying to hit the ball the other way and stay inside the baseball,” said Coach Petty.

Relieving Hoffmann on the mound was righthander Will Smith, who closed out their first playoff game and came into the game despite suffering an injury earlier in the game as a courtesy runner. Smith delivered a gutsy performance, sitting 89-91 with his fastball while mixing in his breaking ball effectively and striking out six batters in a little over four innings.

The Canes eventually tacked on a few more runs to lead 6-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. A double following a leadoff walk led to runners on second and third to start the inning for MLB Breakthrough. Using two more relievers, the Canes would escape with a big tournament victory and momentum heading into Jupiter.

“Last year, if I’m going to be honest, the situation where you were out with a called strike got us in a funk. Our hitters were overly aggressive and I feel like the switch to the 1-1 counts this year made it feel more like actual baseball,” said Coach Petty. “The competition here is good and really prepared us for what we’ll see next week.”

Carroll was named the MVP of the tournament after knocking in an absurd 14 runs over the course of the weekend, including three home runs in five games. Michael Harris II was named the MV-Pitcher of the tournament after tossing five no-hit innings while striking out seven; Harris also hit the game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth in the semifinals which MLB Breakthrough eventually won in ten innings.

“I think I was just trying to play simple baseball. I haven’t been playing for two months, so really I was just trying to get locked in for Jupiter. I think that very simple approach of trying to drive the baseball back up the middle worked well for me,” said Carroll.

2018 Ways to Play powered by MLB & PG runner-up: MLB Breakthrough Series

2018 Ways to Play powered by MLB & PG MVP: Corbin Carroll

2018 Ways to Play powered by MLB & PG MV-Pitcher: Michael Harris II

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