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Tournaments | Story | 7/19/2019

Canes take 15u WWBA crown

Jack Nelson        
Photo: Canes National 15u (Perfect Game)

EMERSON, Ga.- The Canes have done it again. Just two weeks ago, Jeff Petty’s boys took home the WWBA 17u National Championship. On Friday, Canes National 15u left no doubt who the best team was, as they closed out their dominant run in the WWBA 15u National Championship with a 12-2 win over Five Star National Dobbs.

Just how impressive were they? Well, the Canes went 12-0, but more strikingly outscored their opponents 113-8. Their closest game was a 7-2 decision against the Louisiana Knights 15u Gray back in pool play.

They hadn’t been challenged, but it seemed like that was going to change in the championship. Five Star had just steamrolled an excellent Keystone War Eagles team, 10-2. Riding the bats of Cole Mathis and Gage Harrelson, it looked like the team from Warner Robbins, Ga. could be the ones to dethrone the mighty Canes.

Scoring was quiet through two innings as starting pitchers Lane Essary and Matthew Matthijs traded scoreless frames. Five Star took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a fielder’s choice, and the momentum was certainly in their favor. But that all changed with one swing of the bat. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Nathan Fink got a hanging 3-2 curveball and smashed it into the left center gap for a triple.

It was the spark the Canes needed, and they never looked back. A six run third inning was followed by another six runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by an inside the park home run from Cole Young.

“Once it got over his head I was definitely thinking about a triple,” Young said of his homer. “I saw my coach waving me home and I was like ‘Alright, let’s do this.’”

When the onslaught had finally ended, the Canes were crowned champions after a 12-2 mercy rule victory.

“All this hard work pays off,” said Young, who was also named tournament MVP. “Being able to play with all these great players was a privilege.”

From the very first pitch of the week, Young asserted himself as the top talent in attendance. He carries himself like a pro, and his numbers back it up. He hit .607 with three doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 15 RBIs. He added 16 runs, and had OBP of .711.

“Cole battled some adversity earlier this summer,” said coach John Batchelor. “He got sick and missed about a month after the high school season. But he fought through the adjustments, got his timing back, and has really started clicking at the right time. But he’s also a great teammate. Duke got a good one.”

While the lineup averaged nine runs per game, the pitching staff did their part in posting a team ERA of .66. Leading the way were Tristan Smith (12.2 IP, 1.11), Gage Ziehl (6 IP, 0.00), Wyatt Evans (8 IP, 0.00), and Kaden Varela (8 IP, 0.00.)

Yet no one was as impressive on the hill as Evan Siary. The Inman, Sc. native worked nine shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out 11. He went right at hitters with his upper 80s fastball, but credits his teammates for much of his success this week.

“It felt great to perform like this on the biggest stage,” Siary said. “But we have the best defense in the country, so that makes it easier to pitch.”

“Evan is a dude,” said Batchelor. “I saw him pitch in the fall, and since then I knew he was going to be something special. He’s been lights out all summer long, and has continued to get better and better. He’s a strike thrower. He’s so projectable, too. I’m really looking forward to following him in his future.”

The Canes made it look easy, but nothing is ever as it seems. Batchelor said he was pleased with the way his 15 year olds handled the trials and tribulations that faced them.

“We battled some adversity earlier in the week with some stuff off the field,” he said. “But I’m proud of the way these guys came back. We talk a lot about being selfless. We preach it from the top of organization all the way down. It doesn’t matter where you hit in the lineup and it doesn’t matter where you play in the field. We want guys that are all about the team, and that’s what we had.”

The Canes already have 10 players committed to colleges, including Nathan Fink (Virginia), Adam (AJ) Shepard (Indiana), James Trientos (UNC), and Gage Ziehl (Miami.) There are sure to be many more, as the likes of Siary, Lamar King, and David Mershon remain on the board.

Batchelor was optimistic about this week because he knew what he had. Sure, they added a few pieces along the way, but the core of this 2019 15u National Championship team also won the WWBA 14u National Championship last year.

“We had most of this group at last year’s 14u WWBA,” he said. “We had an opportunity to win that. It’s just a super talented roster. So I knew we had a good chance coming into the tournament.”

The WWBA National Championship season has come to a close, but it was another banner year for the Canes organization. 17u and 15u claimed titles, while the 14u was the runner up in Hoover.

“Dan Gitzen and Jeff Petty have done a really good job of building this thing,” Batchelor said. “We get kids to buy into what we’re doing. We tell them the exposure will come if you continue to play selfless baseball. Perfect Game provides a great opportunity for these boys to be seen by college coaches. We say everything takes care of itself if you just focus on the game in between the white lines. We’re really proud of the way these boys have performed.” 

2019 15u WWBA National Championship runner-up: 5 Star National 15u Dobbs

2019 15u WWBA National Championship MVP: Cole Young

2019 15u WWBA National Championship MV-Pitcher: Evan Siary

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