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Tournaments | Story | 7/16/2019

Keystone cruises into playoffs

Cory Van Dyke        
Photo: Lorenzo Carrier (Perfect Game)
EMERSON, Ga. -- Using a 16 hit outburst, Keystone War Eagles defeated SmarTense Angels 15u, 15-3, to improve to 6-0 at the 2019 WWBA 15u National Championship. With the win, Keystone clinches the pool with one game remaining and will be one of 39 teams advancing to bracket play.

In Tuesday’s triumph, 11 different players recorded a hit, and Ryan Costello led the charge with a 3-for-4 day at the plate with three RBIs. Aidan Deakins worked through 3.2 innings on the mound, allowing just one run to pick up the win.

“It’s great carrying that into our next game and eventually into the playoffs,” said shortstop Carson Applegate who batted lead-off and tripled in the game. “It’s good. We’re all coming together as a team. Our pitching is doing well. Bats are waking up. We’re just in the game every time.”

Applegate, a University of Kentucky commit, represents the spark plug atop Keystone’s lineup. The No. 56 overall player in the 2022 class is batting .412 so far with a home run. Applegate and two-hole hitter Brody Colbert have scored 23 of Keystone’s 50 runs this week.

Flanking Applegate in the infield at third and moving over to short when he pitches is Lorenzo Carrier. Carrier, a University of Miami commit, has been on a tear over the six games, hitting .500 including a 2-for-4 day at the plate on Tuesday.

“I’m just jumping on the ball early in the count and not letting any pitches go by me that I can mash,” said Carrier, the top player in Delaware and No. 71 player in the 2021 class. “That’s been the goal.”

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the War Eagles. Keystone won the first two games of the tournament by walk-offs, both by way of errors to end the game. Since getting their sea legs, Keystone has outscored opponents 42-7 over the previous four games.

“I think we’re getting a little bit better each game,” Keystone head coach Jeff Sauve said. “We came out of the gate and got challenged pretty early in the tournament. Won our first two games with walk-offs, so we showed a little bit of grit, a little bit of heart. I think we’re getting hot at the right time.”

For the Pennsylvania based club, it’s been a unique journey to get to this point at the 15u WWBA.

Keystone Baseball Club officially began in 2017, but the process was underway far earlier. Having played at Clemson University and later in the Red Sox organization himself, Sauve felt that his son Logan Sauve was skilled enough to play collegiately as well.

It sparked Sauve with the idea to surround Logan with players as good or better and create a team dedicated to helping kids reach the next level. 

“I basically did what a college coach does,” Sauve said. “I went out three years down here at LakePoint and I started introducing myself to the parents of the better players in the northeast part of the country. Just kind of sold my background and what I was looking to do. 

“I told them I had a lot of contacts in college and I would help them if they stayed loyal to me. I would help them place their kids in a college appropriately. That’s how we started and we stuck with it. We have a great group of parents which in travel baseball has a lot to do with it.”

Sauve admitted that it was tough sledding over those first two years, but now his team is locked and loaded to make a run at the biggest tournament of the summer. With 312 teams at the 15u WWBA, Keystone has already secured itself as one of the best 39 teams here and they’re not done yet.

“We had high expectations coming down here years one and two and we got our eyes opened,” Sauve said. “This is the best baseball in the United States right here every single year. I was hoping that we would come down here and get in the championship bracket, and that was sort of my expectation. Fortunately for us, we’ve gotten hot at the right time and hopefully we can take that into championship play.”

Up and down Keystone’s roster are players already committed to play in college. It’s a rare sight for a 15u team, but one that’s a testament to what Sauve has had a hand in building over the past three years.

Currently, Applegate (Kentucky), Carrier (Miami), Sauve (West Virginia), Nick Barone (Virginia Tech), Noah Burke (Penn State), and Josh Heath (West Virginia) have made verbal commitments. 

“If you noticed, the committed kids put stickers on the back of their helmets,” Sauve said. “We did that for good reason. That’s to let them know, ‘Hey, you guys are on the big stage now. Let people know who you are. You’re not only representing Keystone, but you’re representing that university.’”

Keystone finishes up pool play on Wednesday afternoon versus Action Baseball 15U Prather. Then, the War Eagles will be marching into bracket play looking to continue establishing a name for themselves.

“We come to this tournament to play in those high level games,” Sauve said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Wherever the rest of the 15u WWBA tournament takes Keystone, the product on the field is the culmination of the dream that was unleashed by Sauve several years ago. The culmination of a team that has been stitched together through a love for the game.

“The biggest part about playing out here is just being with my guys,” Carrier said. “Every game we come out here we play hard. We don’t pay attention to all the scouts or any of that. We just try to go out, compete, and win.”
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