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Tournaments | Story | 6/18/2019

EC Astros win 10u World Series

Jack Nelson        
Photo: East Cobb Astros 10u Navy (Perfect Game)
Top Performers | All-Tournament Team | Final Results 

MARIETTA, Ga. – The East Cobb Astros 10u Navy were the best team all tournament, and they finished their undefeated title run with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Banditos Black 10u to win the inaugural Perfect Game 10u World Series.

The Astros got the bats going early by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Roscoe Hayes started things off with a double, and then the Astros got clutch RBI singles from Grant Barden, Bru Milner, and Brayden Mentzer.

The Banditos showed fight and clawed their way back, cutting the lead to 3-2 by the bottom of the fourth inning. But the Astros' Reid Shelton had other ideas, leading off the home half of the inning by launching a triple down the right field line, scoring on an overthrow and adding a huge insurance run.

The sixth inning brought the drama befitting of a championship game. Astros pitcher Bryant Hopkins started with a strikeout, but the ball kicked away from the catcher, allowing Banditos hitter Francisco Soria to reach base. But Hopkins was nails the rest of the way, getting a huge strikeout and then two ground balls to strand the tying run on third to preserve the victory.

“I’m really proud of the boys,” said Astros coach Tyler White. “We had three weeks off before this, but they came out here and went 10-0 in this tournament. Everyone did their part, whether that be pitching, hitting, and fielding. I’m especially happy we got to be the first team to win the 10u Perfect Game World Series.”

One player that really had himself a week was Austin Neese. He hit .579 over 10 games played, included three doubles, a home run, and five RBIs. For this performance, he was named tournament MVP. It will certainly be a week Neese, his teammates and coaches will surely not forget.

“There’s so many memories,” said White. “We had so many comeback wins earlier, including in our playoff game this morning against a really good CBA team. But probably my favorite memory will be watching these kids come out and finish the job they started. We went 29-1 in Perfect Game events this season. I’m just so proud of the way we finished. It makes me so happy to watch these kids celebrate and get their picture taken.”

As happy as White was to see his team dog pile, he was also appreciative of how his boys reacted to the trials and tribulations they faced along the way. The coach couldn’t help but smile as he reflected on the growth of his players and the lessons learned.

“We learned that you have to be a team player,” said White. “When your number is called, you have to go out and do your job, and we proved we could do that when we came back from a four run deficit in the bottom of the sixth in our first playoff game. It takes a unit to win, and sometimes you need to sacrifice what you want so your brother on the team can do his job. That lesson is going to prepare them for high school, college, and just for the rest of their life. And some of these kids faced adversity for the first time, but they handled it so well. I’m really proud of these kids.”

Although they came up just a bit short, Banditos Black had a great tournament and will leave Georgia knowing they can play with the very best in the country. The Banditos got great pitching all week, and were led on the mound by Brody Smith, who was named the Most Valuable Pitcher. Although disappointed by the loss, coach Cory Gafford was impressed by the way his boys competed.

“Sometimes we forget these kids are 10 years old because they produce some things that high school kids can’t even do,” said Banditos coach Cory Gafford. “They have the baseball IQ of older kids and perform so well under pressure. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Gafford was especially appreciative for the opportunity to compete at the World Series. It provided his team from Texas the stage they needed to show that this group of boys is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

“It was an honor to be invited to the inaugural Perfect Game World Series,” said Gafford. “It’s something I think we earned, but it’s a blessing I don’t take for granted. The tournament staff put on a great event. It was first class.”

Like Astros coach Tyler White, Gafford also saw this week as a chance to teach his boys life lessons. Wins and losses aside, baseball is going to impart the virtues of toughness and grit. And as painful as those defeats and failures feel in the moment, learning from them will only benefit you down the road.

“The biggest thing it does is it builds character,” said Gafford. “You can’t ever think you’re out of anything. It’s just like life. Even if things aren’t going so well, you still have to pick yourself up and keep going.”

2019 10u PG World Series runner-up: Banditos Black 10u Texas

2019 10u PG World Series MVP: Austin Neese

2019 10u PG World Series MV-Pitcher: Brody Smith

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