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Tournaments | Story | 7/14/2019

29ers Baseball soars into semis

Annika Wall        
Photo: Ryan Radek (Perfect Game)

MARION, Iowa – The 29ers Baseball '21 Black doesn’t play a lot of wooden bat tournaments. But no one would have been able to guess, considering they’ve outscored their opponents 31-4 at the inaugural 17u Midwest Invitational. As one of four teams remaining, the 29ers have relied on smart pitching and timely hitting to lead them toward victory.

“In a wood bat tournament, it’s easy to make easy plays, so we’re throwing strikes and making the plays,” head coach Nathan Gray said. “We’re also putting the ball in play and taking advantage of extra bases.”

One athlete who’s been putting the ball in play every at-bat is Carter Markham. Markham is batting at a tournament-high .800 clip, in addition to scoring seven runs and stealing four bases. He’s reached base 11 out of 13 times without striking out once.

“He’s just doing what he’s been doing all year long,” Gray commented. “He’s looking to hit the ball, not trying to do too much and it’s paying off. It’s working well.”

“At this age, a lot of pitchers go for the first-pitch fastball, so I usually hop on that,” Markham explained. “If not, later in the count they’ll usually leave one up. I always wait for my right pitch and I always take it.”

Teammates Zach Carpita and Nathan Beneke’s numbers aren’t anything to scoff at either. Carpita has five hits and five RBIs in addition to a tournament BA of .455. Beneke’s batting .375 with a triple and two stolen bases to his name.

What’s really impressive, though, is that in four games the 29ers have only gone through four pitchers. Combined, the pitching staff has only given up four runs while striking out 23. Connor Corrigan has led the pack, striking out nine in the team’s quarterfinal victory over Sluggers Baseball 2021. Seven of Corrigan’s strikeouts came off of his curveball, a pitch that was nearly untouchable by his opponents.

Offensively, the duo of Markham and Ryan Radek led off the quarterfinal matchup with back-to-back left field doubles. Carpita and Lukas Wenz joined in the fun, adding in singles of their own to the first inning total, making the score 3-0.

Beneke led off the second inning with a ground ball single to left field, grabbing a hold of a 70 mph fastball. The 29ers forced three consecutive walks before the Sluggers were able to get an out. Carpita stepped up again with bases loaded to drive in a pair of RBIs after Jacob Formenti was hit by a first-pitch curveball.

The 29ers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth before the Sluggers responded with two of their own. Once again, though, it was Corrigan who shut down the offense with two strikeouts in the inning before forcing a ground ball routine out to escape the inning.

“[They’re] making my job a lot easier. Saving arms for tomorrow and next weekend as well,” Gray said. “We have everyone coming out of the bullpen ready and fresh for tomorrow.  It’s making me sleep a lot easier tonight.”

The 29ers will open up semifinal play against 12th-seeded Great Lakes Baseball 16u. The other semifinal game will feature No. 2 seed Cangelosi Sparks 15u Black and No. 6 seed Cangelosi Sparks 17u Silver. Cangelosi Black is the only other undefeated team left in the tournament. 



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