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Tournaments | Story | 5/27/2019

3 champs mine WMDC gold

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: AZ T-Rex Easton (Perfect Game)

AZ T-Rex Easton  claims a second straight 18u WMDC crown

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Second verse, same as the first.

For the second straight year, Scottsdale-based AZ T-Rex Easton proved difficult to keep up with Monday afternoon, claiming a 4-1 victory over Las Vegas-based LVR in the championship game at the PG WWBA 18u West Memorial Day Classic. The game was played under perfect weather conditions on the Reds’ side of the Goodyear Ball Park MLB spring training complex.

No. 2-seeded AZ T-Rex (6-0-0) and top-seeded LVR (5-1-0) were the favorites coming into the event, and they didn’t disappoint. The two programs have developed quite a nice little rivalry at the PG WMDC over the last three years, with their teams always in title contention at all three of the event’s age levels (18u, 16u, 14u).

“It’s always fun playing against them; they’re good guys,” AZ T-Rex founder/general manager/manager Rex Gonzalez said after his team had accepted its championship trophy and banner. “They’re a great organization … and they’re always very gentlemen-like, so it’s always a pleasure to play against them.”

The T-Rexer’s pushed across two runs in the top of the third and added two more in the top of the fifth which proved to be enough on this day. Standing in with a 3-2 count, Travis Warinner stroked a two-out, two-run triple to plate the first two runs in the third. Two innings later, Kenneth Jimenez came through with a bases loaded, two-run single – his second single of the day – to score AZ T-Rex’s final two runs.

2020 right-hander Noah Rodriguez made the start for AZ T-Rex and threw 2 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings, striking out three and walking two. 2020 lefty Ronan Kopp, an Arizona commit ranked No. 49 nationally in his class, threw the final 4 2/3, allowing only one unearned run on two hits, striking out eight and walking three.

LVR scored its only run in the bottom of the fourth when Zachary Rodriguez received a lead-off walk, eventually made his way to third base and then stole home with two outs. 2021 right-hander Garrett Cutting, a Stanford commit, threw the final three shutout innings for LVR, allowing three hits and striking out five without a walk.

Jimenez, a 2020 catcher and a New Mexico State commit out of Tumacacori, Ariz., was phenomenal over the long holiday weekend, batting 7-for-10 (.700) with a home run, nine RBI, three runs scored and three stolen bases; he was named the Most Valuable Player.

LVR’s Trevor Meisner, a 2020 right-hander from Las Vegas, made one start over the weekend and threw a seven-inning, four-hit, 11-strikeout shutout, and was named the Most Valuable Pitcher.

The Recruits earned the No. 1 seed by outscoring their three pool-play opponents by a combined 25-1; AZ T-Rex was seeded No. 2 because it held an 18-6 advantage over its three foes. These are two very good teams and two nationally prominent organizations and they aren’t going away. AZ T-Rex was just happened to be three runs better on Monday.

“They really did a good job and fortunately for us all our of kids are 17, so this is a 17u team,” Gonzalez said of his players. “Everything that we could have asked for them to do, they did it. We probably didn’t hit as well as we wanted to but we got some timely hitting, and Jimenez was lights-out for us this weekend; he kind of put the  whole team on his back, so to speak. … All-in all it was just a well-played team performance.”


CV Marlins walk-off PFA Matadors 2021 in 16u WMDC championship

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – No lead is ever safe, especially the one-run variety. And, as teams have learned the hard way many, many times over the history of this great game, not even after the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh are retired.

Eddie Saldivar, an unheralded 2021 middle-infielder, drove a 1-2 fastball down the right field line for a double that scored two baserunners, and sent the No. 3-seeded CV Marlins (6-0-0) past the No. 5 PFA Matadors 2021 (5-1-0), 3-2, in an all-California championship game at the PG WWBA 16u West Memorial Day Classic; the game was played on the Reds’ quad at the Goodyear Ball Park MLB spring training complex.

The Matadors (Pasadena, Calif.) had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the second only to watch the Marlins (Madera, Calif.) tie the game with a single run in the bottom of the third. PFA then took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth, only to see that advantage erased when the Marlins were down to their final out of the ballgame with Saldivar at the plate.

“That was a good one,” Marlins head coach Jameil Haddard said postgame. “From the time we showed up until the time we just finished that game, it was a big team effort collectively. Whoever came off the bench contributed and it was awesome, it was great.”

Holding onto that one-run lead, the Matadors managed to get two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh before things fell apart. The bases that were empty only moments before were suddenly full thanks to three straight walks, setting the table for Saldivar’s dramatic walk-off double.

Finnegan Wall delivered a lead-off single in the top of the second  for the Matadors, two one-out walks followed to lead the bases, and Wall promptly stole home for a 1-0 lead. The Marlins’ Andrew Smith drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third, advanced on a single from Mikey Ramirez and eventually scored when Saldivar reached on an error for a 1-1 tie.

The Matadors made it 2-1 in the sixth when Keller Strauss led-off with a single and eventually scored when Beto Beltran delivered a bases-loaded single, still with no one out.

Eldridge Armstrong, a 2021 infielder from Simi Valley, Calif., was a one-man wrecking crew for the Matadors over the weekend. At the plate, he was 7-for-19 (.368) with two doubles, five RBI, five runs scored and nine stolen bases and also made two appearances on the mound, allowing two earned runs on eight hits in eight innings (1.80 ERA) with 10 strikeouts and three walks. He was named the event’s Most Valuable Player.

Most Valuable Pitcher recognition went to the Marlins’ Temo Becerra, a 2021 right-hander out of Clovis, Calif. Becerra made one start, threw five no-hit, shutout innings, striking out seven and walking one.

“This was amazing,” Haddard said. “Sometimes you get to Arizona and the weather is a little hot, but it’s been perfect since Friday. You couldn’t ask for better circumstances as it relates to the weather and the boys showed up from start to finish.”


3D Gold puts on overwhelming offensive display on way to 14u WMDC championship

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It was impossible for anyone to see this coming. It bordered on incomprehensible. It was not only head-scratching, it was mind-boggling. Run and hit totals such as these seldom show up during Perfect Game WWBA tournament pool-play games, let alone on Championship Day.

Just allow this to sink in. In three games played on Monday at the PG WWBA 14u West Memorial Day Classic – a playoff quarterfinal game, semifinal game and the championship game – 3D Gold outscored its opponents by a whopping 43-3. It was a run-scoring orgy that included putting 25 on the board in the championship game. The championship game!

Phoenix-based 3D Gold, which was the last team to reach the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, used 22 hits – 22 very hard-hit balls, by the way – to absolutely destroy No. 3-seeded and Las Vegas-based LVR, 25-0, in a game played on the White Sox side of the Camelback Ranch MLB spring training complex. It mercifully came to an end after three innings.

The Gold scored 21 runs in the first inning, for crying out loud, added three in the second and one more in the third, almost as if they couldn’t help themselves. Keep in mind that the LVR program is one of the best west of the Rocky Mountains and isn’t used to that kind of punishment. But then, who is?

“One thing that happens a lot when I get these groups together is it’s a bunch of alpha dogs who are trying to feel each other out and see where they fit and where their place is,” 3D Gold program founder and manager Dominic Robinson told PG after the last out was finally recorded.

“Hopefully, throughout the course of a tournament we have time for everyone to figure that out, because this bound to happen. … The big one is coming, so just stay with it, be yourself, don’t change who you are because it’s coming.”

Here’s the rundown:

Eight of the 13 3D Gold with an official at-bat had at least two hits and five had three. Among those with three hits Demitri Diamant doubled, drove in five runs and scored 3; Owen Egan doubled, with three RBI and three runs; Quinn Carrier doubled, drove in two ad scored two; Cam Grenert had three singles with 2-2; Alexander Anderson also singled three times with two RBI and three runs scored.

Of those that collected two hits, Zach Wadas doubled, drove in four and scored two and Duce Robinson doubled with two RBI and three runs.

Egan, a 2023 right-hander, threw three shutout innings, allowing two hits while striking out four and walking one. Those numbers right there are all that need to be seen to know that there wasn’t a lot to be celebrated on the LVR side; Dominick Rush and Leighton Mercurius managed to scratch-out singles against Egan.

3D Gold started the day Monday by beating the No. 1-seed MVP Hustle, 7-3, in a quarterfinal game where it rapped out 14 hits; it totaled 15 hits in an 11-0 win over No. 5 AZ National Baseball Academy 14u Red in the semifinals. How many different ways can “dominance” be spelled?

“Anytime you see a 3D team that’s scoring under five runs, I have always said that’s trouble for the next team,” Robinson said. “I told those guys that (on Sunday) that you snuck in as the 8-seed and I feel sorry for whoever has to play you tomorrow.”

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