Tournaments | Story | 6/27/2019

GRB Rays claim 18u Showdown

Cory Van Dyke        
Photo: GRB Rays Yellow (Perfect Game)

DUNWOODY, Ga. – GRB Rays Yellow clung to one run lead over TC 18u, but runners were on first and third. They were one out away from the 2019 18u PG Summer Showdown Protected by G-Form championship.

Parker Jones had thrown a gem to this point, needing that final out for the complete game. Faced with a 3-2 count, Jones had one more pitch, having reached the 105-pitch limit. He let out all the gas he had left in the tank, unleashing an 81 mph fastball that eventually made its way to center fielder Andrew Schroeder’s glove for a fly out to earn the GRB Rays Yellow the 3-2 victory for the title.

“It was a big relief,” Jones said after the last out. “The whole game I didn’t really have any trouble. The last inning there I had a little hiccup, but I trusted my stuff and got through it.”

Relief. That was the biggest emotion for Jones. While some teammates were celebrating around him, Jones’ cool, calm, and collected demeanor eventually let out a half-grin knowing he had just pitched his team to a championship.

“We had a couple little dicey situations, but [Parker] just battled through it,” head coach Adam Kilp said. “That’s kind of his personality too. He’s real stoic on the mound. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion. Even when the game was over, I don’t think he was pumping up or anything. He just came off and said, ‘Yeah, that was a good game. That was fun.’ He’s a real laid back kid, and I can’t say enough about him.”

Jones’ poise on the bump carried him to a standout performance. He went the distance, allowing just two runs, four hits, and two walks. Using pinpoint control and a nasty hook, Jones collected 11 strikeouts and was named MVPitcher of the tournament.

“My curveball was working really well,” Jones said. “Just getting up with the fastball and striking them out with the curveball later in the count.”

Schroeder opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third inning. Another run scored in the inning on a passed ball. The Rays added another run in the fourth on a Kyle Fluegel sacrifice fly.

GRB Rays Yellow found themselves in the championship game with a 2-0 shoutout over Bullpen Redstitch 108 17u in the semifinals. Andrew Rajkovich led the offense with a solo home run, but the real story of the game was Domenic Adair’s job on the mound.

Adair was one out short of a complete game shutout, having to be taken out for the pitch count limit. He threw a one-hitter, striking out five batters and walking four. 

“Parker and Dom, I think as far as I’m concerned, it was kind of a coin toss between those two guys who was going to be MVPitcher,” Kilp said. “[Dom] did a whale of a job too.”

For the GRB Rays Yellow who are based out of Wisconsin, this was the beginning of the process where things finally started to click. Before this tournament, Kilp estimated that they had won only two games, having traveled to tournaments in Indianapolis and Nashville. In his mind, it was that newfound connection that made the difference down south in Georgia.

“Everybody is stuck together, so they’re forced to learn how to gel and all that stuff,” Kilp said. “It’s just a testament to how communication is such a huge part of the game. Now that they know each other, they’re not so timid, they can talk to each other, they can rib each other… Part of it is they started to learn to have some fun when we were playing. Baseball is fun, right? This makes it even more fun.”

The title run for the Rays gives them some momentum heading into the 2019 WWBA 17u National Championship that begins tomorrow. They proved that a team from up north can compete and beat teams from down south. In the days ahead, GRB Rays Yellow will continue to earn that respect with the hopes of sustained strong play.

“It’s gives them a little bit of confidence now,” Kilp said. “We know we can play with some of the teams that are down south. Northern baseball doesn’t get as much credit as some of the southern programs do. Even with Michigan being in the World Series, some northern baseball teams can hold their own against some guys from down here. It’s fun. I love being down here because Georgia is a great place. This has been a really fun time.”

Lujames Groover III of TC 18u was named MVP of the tournament. He tallied seven hits, including three home runs and six RBIs.

2019 18u PG Summer Showdown runner-up: TC 18u

2019 18u PG Summer Showdown MVP: Lujames Groover III

2019 18u PG Summer Showdown MV-Pitcher: Parker Jones

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