Tournaments | Story | 5/25/2019

3D Gold seeks WMDC riches

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Tyler Avery (Perfect Game)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Its roster is as diverse and as deep as any in the 32-team field at this weekend’s Perfect Game 16u West Memorial Day Classic, and that’s totally by design. Dominic Robinson wouldn’t have it any other way.

Robinson is the founder and director of Phoenix-based 3D Sports Performance and 3D Gold athletics and he has teams playing under the 3D Gold banner entered in both the 16u and 14u WMDC tournaments being played at the Camelback Ranch and Goodyear Ball Park complexes.

Both teams are especially talented but the 16u group stands out. It boasts prospects from the classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023 that come from far-flung locales mostly in Arizona, California and Nevada for this particular event, but that doesn’t mean Robinson won’t look even further outside the box if he thinks his players will benefit in any way.

“When I started this I wanted to give kids opportunities to experience what it’s like to be in dugouts with guys that are different from those in their region,” he told PG Saturday morning, speaking from the White Sox quad at Camelback Ranch.

“It’s fun to go play with the guys from Florida, it’s fun to play with the guys from Texas, so I definitely wanted to give the kids that type of experience.”

With this event taking up a spot on the calendar that is generally recognized as the unofficial start of the summer, a lot of players couldn’t travel so far this early in the season. But the ones that are here and wearing the 3D Gold jerseys are happy they made the trip.

One of the key guys on the roster is Carter Doorn, a top-500 2021 right-hander/infielder and Purdue commit from Schererville, Ind. He played with Robinson for the first time at an event in Indiana three years ago and just really liked the way Robinson coached him up.

After that experience, when Robinson reached out to him again and asked if he’d like to play with 3D Gold here this weekend, the answer was an emphatic yes. “So here I am, having a good time and playing some baseball,” Doorn told PG on Saturday.

There are six players on the roster from Las Vegas, including Garrett Cutting, a 2021 shortstop and Stanford commit ranked No. 227 nationally. Cutting is doing double-duty here this weekend, also playing for LVR in the 18u WDMC. “I’m just trying to play as much baseball as I can,” he said with a smile.

The other Las Vegas prospects are 2022 left-hander/outfielder/first baseman Mason Neville, the No. 45-ranked overall national prospect in his class, 2022 infielder Demitri Diamant (No. 55-ranked overall), 2021 outfielder Tyler Macke, 2022 right-hander/first baseman Tyler Avery and catcher/corner-infielder Jewell  Williams; Neville and Macke both attend Vegas’ Palo Verde High School.

Another top prospect on the roster is 2021 catcher/third baseman/right-hander Tanner Smith, an Oregon State commit from Chandler, Ariz., ranked No. 219 nationally.

The Gold certainly got off to a great start Friday when they raced past the Mesa-based Reapers, 10-2, in five innings. Neville, Smith and 2022 righty Tristan Kim from Los Altos Hills, Calif., combined on a 13-strikeout no-hitter (the Reapers’ two runs were unearned), striking out 13 and walking five.

Smith struck-out all six batters he faced and also singled and drove in three runs; Cutting doubled twice and drove in a pair of runs in the win.

“From past experiences with 3D Gold, I’ve noticed that we come out kind of flat the first game because the guys are getting to know each other,” Neville said Saturday morning. “This weekend we came out and 'mercied' our first team so I think we jelled pretty early.”

“That first game (Friday) you’re playing with a bunch of guys you’ve never played with before but I thought it went really well,” Doorn added. “We all came together; we saw where we fit and how we stand with the other guys. Now we look to be better today than we were yesterday and build on that every single day … but the feel with the guys is really good so far.”

Incredibly, Avery, 2021 right-hander Aaron Limon and Doorn came back Saturday morning and combined to no-hit Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based Bulldogs Baseball, striking out six and walking five. The Gold did give up one earned run, however, and was forced to settle for a 1-1 tie; Ryan Lee doubled and drove in 3D’s only run.

For those keeping score at home, 3D Gold’s pitching staff’s line after two games reads: 12 innings pitched, 0 hits, 1 earned run and 19 strikeouts. The Achilles’ heel? 10 walks.

“When you come into a tournament like this you’re looking to compete every game,” Doorn said. “You want to compete and you want to play hard. Sometimes the wins and losses don’t show that but you want to come out and play hard every single game and hope to win it.”

Dominic Robinson was a four-sport athlete at Diamond Bar (Calif.) High School and went on to play both baseball and football at Florida State for legendary coaches Mike Martin and Bobby Bowden, respectively.

Now a coach and mentor for today’s young athletes and students, Robinson founded 3D Sports Performance five years ago because he saw a lot of kids who needed a platform on which they could showcase themselves outside of the participation they enjoy with their regular summer ball teams.

“I’m not going to take them from their teams but maybe those teams aren’t playing in a specific tournament,” Robinson explained. “Maybe their coach feels like they need a week off but maybe their parents don’t or they don’t (feel that way). … It’s my idea to fill gaps in development. I feel like it’s our job to develop the kids and prepare them for their high school coaches, and sometimes their (summer season) teams can’t do that.”

The 3D Gold 14u team is also a talented group with highly regarded 2023s like Derrick Mitchell, Owen Egan, Zach Wadas, Trent Caraway, Matthew Bates and Duce Robinson, Dominic’s son. 3D Gold’s rosters are always going to be mix-and-match based solely on players’ availability but that collection of 2023s certainly provides a solid foundation.

As for the 16u Gold, the tie with the Bulldogs is certainly a difficult pill to swallow but was not a deal-breaker as far as making the playoffs. The Gold and the ‘Dogs are tied atop the pool standings at 1-0-1 and both complete pool-play Sunday morning, so nothing will be decided until then. And, most importantly, everyone is still excited to be here.

“This is awesome,” Doorn said. “Being back in Indiana and playing in 50-degree, rainy weather almost every day, it’s nice to be down here where it’s in the upper-80s, lower-90s and the sunshine and just playing some baseball.”

Neville said on Saturday that he started thinking about the PG 16u West Memorial Day Classic right as his high school season was coming to an end. He felt like he was on a team that could possibly win the whole thing and after enjoying an important role in Friday’s no-hitter he was looking forward to playing in this tournament right up until its conclusion on Monday.

“I definitely want to come out here and treat it like a learning experience,” Neville said. “Especially playing with some older guys, learning some life lessons through them and playing against the top competition that always comes to Perfect Game tournaments.

“This is a good way to start the summer and get things rolling,” he added. “I just hope to get better, meet new guys and build relationships from the whole experience.”

It should be noted the 3D Gold players wore a patch with the No. 42 that was displayed on the left sleeve of their game jerseys in honor of Jackie Robinson. Dominic Robinson was asked if he was related to the man who was responsible for changing the fabric of the game, and he said that while both came from Southern California and there is some lineage, if they’re related it’s by a fair distance.

In the meantime, he wants to keep running a program that offers young ballplayers extended opportunities, and if Jackie Robinson stood for anything, it was fairness, equal opportunity and sacrifice.

“Really quick, it caught fire,” he said of 3D Sports Performance/Gold. “When we started, we were OK and since then we’ve had families, amazing kids and it’s grown like wildfire. Every time we play get a little bit better and we get better players, and when we get better players, obviously, we have more success and I look like a better coach than I actually am.”

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