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Tournaments | Championship | 7/23/2019

NLB collects World Series title

Autumn Jones        
Photo: Next Level Baseball (Perfect Game)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The PG World Series brought together the best of the best at the highly skilled 18u level, especially during the final matchup where Next Level Baseball battled to defeat the No.2-seeded Mississippi Rays, 11-7. Next Level went undefeated in this week’s tourney and the Rays had only tailed one other loss in the opener yet again to the champions themselves.

This time last month talented Next Level saw success in the PG 18u Southeast Championship, where they claimed the championship title for the third consecutive year. To come back to Fort Myers and receive the World Series title proves their efforts while holding a Perfect Game record of 23-3-1.

Next level earned an early lead in the title game and were up 4-0 in the first, but The Rays went on a steady run and even got a mid-game lead in the fourth. NLB scored yet another four runs in the fifth and added two in the sixth to secure the win.

“To come in and compete with first class organizations like the Mississippi Rays is special,” said head coach Justin Bruce. “That is a great team makeup wise and skill-set wise. It makes our guys better playing competition like that.”

Jason Roberts (2020, Pensacola, Fla.) pitched in the final round Next Level allowing three hits and walks while striking out two batters in his three innings. The high follow worked consistently in the 82-86 mph range and complemented his fastball with a 72 mph curveball. Lake Sumter commit Shawn Snyder, who also ranks a High Follow, came in the game as a relief allowing just one hit in his two innings.

Jaden Rudd (Lynn Haven, Fla.), went 2-for-3 offensively with a triple and three runs scored. Florida Atlantic commit Victor Castillo (2019, Tallahassee, Fla.) went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. The two primary outfielders are ranked in the Top 500 Nationally by Perfect Game.

The tournament’s MVP was earned by NLB’s Dilan Lawson. The primary third basemen and righthanded pitcher led the way throughout the tournament talling three runs, seven hits, and six RBI. The top prospect was recently drafted in the 2019 MLB draft by the New York Mets.

“I’m just real proud of this team and our success this week and this whole summer” said Lawson. “We played great ball all throughout and the hard work we put in payed off. We came in and got the job done.”

Besides half of the players rostered on this talented Tallahassee Fla.-based team are committed to playing college ball, that includes Castillo, Brice Dillmore (2019, Wallace CC-Dothan), Jace Dunsford (2019, Tallahassee CC), Cade Parker (2019, Florida Atlantic), and Andrew Yeager (2019, Chattahoochee Valley CC).

Coach Bruce express how going undefeated in this tournament is special and what makes this team so special is the culture and love they have for one another.

“It speaks a lot about the kids we have,” said Bruce. “The culture of this team and the character kids we have is why we keep winning. They never give up. They compete every at bat and will battle every game. We have a lot of depth on the mound and every time one of our pitchers take the mound so far, they have performed.”

This devoted group is a senior driven team who has been with the NBL organization for several seasons and are built by togetherness. The team sets high standards going in each and every game and certainly made a statement coming out this week.

“They always pick each other up and motivate each other,” added Bruce. “They are competitive with each other and even more competitive when they step between the lines. It is a senior driven team that plays with a chip on their shoulder and each day they want to prove the type of players they are. The seniors want to pass the torch to the younger players and are committed to finishing their time with next level the right way.”

Pearl River CC recruit Nick Skaggs of the Mississippi Rays was named the event's Most Valuable Pitcher. In his team's 5-2 quarterfinal win over Powermill Brown, Skaggs struck out 10 batters in five innings without giving up an earned run.

2019 18u PG World Series runner-up: Mississippi Rays

2019 18u PG World Series MVP: Dilan Lawson

2019 18u PG World Series MV-Pitcher: Nick Skaggs

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