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Tournaments | Story | 7/20/2019

Dodgers deliver at 16u BCS

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Dulins Dodgers-Godwin

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Temperatures are on the rise all across the country as summer reaches its mid-point, and the Dulins Dodgers-Godwin are heating up, too, just when it matters the most.

The No. 5-seeded Dodgers broke a 2-2 tie by pushing across a single run in the top of the seventh inning and held on for a 3-2 win over the No. 3 Team Elite 16u Prime in the championship game at the Perfect Game 16u BCS National Championship played Saturday at Hammond Stadium.

The Dodgers, coming off a strong playoff run at last week’s PG 16u WWBA Championship, made amends for coming up just a little bit short in Atlanta by winning this PG national championship here in Southwest Florida.

“I feel like we had some momentum coming in from last week and we were coming in strong,” the Dodgers’ Chandler Benson told PG postgame, referring to their 8-1-0, third-round of the playoffs run at the WWBA. “Having that momentum behind us and knowing what we can do and we came out and played the best we can; just played baseball.”

Dulins finished its championship run at the 16u BCS at 9-1-0, winning seven straight after a loss in its third pool-play game of the tournament. Team Elite settled for a tie in its first pool-play game of the week, won eight straight, and finished 8-1-1.

The 16u Prime jumped to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when David Wiley was hit by a pitch to lead-off the inning, moved all the way to third on a Dodgers’ fielding error and scored on an RBI fielder’s choice groundout off the bat of Benny Montgomery.

The Dodgers made it 2-1 in the top of the third when Tanner Reaves and Braden Montgomery walked and Dylan Leach delivered an RBI single that plated Reaves; Montgomery then scored on a David Jeon sac fly.

The lead didn’t last long. The 16u Prime knotted it at two in the bottom of the fifth when Adam Ebling led-off with a single, moved to third after a pair of walks and scored on a fielder’s choice groundout from Wiley.

That’s where things stood in the seventh before Patrick Turner got what proved to be the game-winning rally started with a one-out double to deep center. Jaeger Self was sent-in to pinch-run and he scored the Dodgers’ third run on a 16u Prime fielding error.

Leach had a pair of singles to lead the Dodgers, accounting for two of their five hits. Dodgers starter David Jeon, a 2021 right-hander, threw 4 1/3 strong innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks; 2020 left-hander Ryan Ward and 2021 lefty Jeffrey Ince finished things off on the bump for the Dodgers.

Ebling doubled and singled, accounting for two of the 16u Prime’s five hits. 2021 right-hander Aidan McConnell and 2022 lefty Andrew Jergins combined on their own five-hitter, striking out three and walking three.

“I feel like we performed the best we could,” Leach said of the Dodgers’ effort. “We came out and we played, we shut them down; we just played ball like we’re supposed to. Our mindset was the same as every game; we just play ball.”

Dodgers head coach Chris Godwin noted that this is a team that just doesn’t allow itself to get rattled and is always focused on doing the little things right. It’s just a matter of making pitches, having quality at-bats and overall execution.

“For us, we’ve been in these situations before,” he told PG postgame. “We won the (15u) PG World Series last year, we made a deep run at the WWBA, we’ve been in some big tournaments, big ballgames and this is what we play for. We have a mental performance coach on staff who really works with us on controlling our emotions and keeping our anxiety levels down and I think that paid off right here.”

Leach, a 2021 catcher/infielder and an Arkansas commit from Carthage, Texas, went 12-for-33 (.364) with two triples, a double, an event-high 17 RBI, nine runs scored and a 0.963 OPS and was named the Most Valuable Player.

Benson, a 2021 right-hander out of Frisco, Texas, made three appearances on the mound and didn’t allow an earned run on six hits over 11 innings, striking out eight without a walk; he was named the MV Pitcher.

“I would just say we came out and played baseball up to our abilities,” he said of the championship run. “We played and did the best that we can do and we just focused on ourselves and playing baseball.”

Five members of this Team Elite 16u Prime team played for the Team Elite 16u Scout Team that won last week’s PG 16u WWBA National Championship in Atlanta. Those guys and others will be back with the Scout Team at next week’s 16u PG World Series in Sanford, Fla.; the Dulins Dodgers will also have a team at the PG national championship event.

Early Saturday afternoon, however, there was very little talk of the 16u PGWS. The Dodgers-Godwin players and coaches allowed themselves a few moments to soak in this BCS National Championship.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” Godwin said. “If you go back and look up and down the lineup, everybody contributed, everybody played their role all throughout the week. … Everybody was pulling for each other and I can’t be prouder of these guys; they did awesome. They’re tired, they’re dragging … but they’re so freakin’ resilient – I’m proud  of these guys.”

2019 16u BCS National Championship runner-up: Team Elite 16u Prime

2019 16u BCS National Championship MVP: Dylan Leach

2019 16u BCS National Championship MV-Pitcher: Chandler Benson

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