Tournaments | Story | 9/16/2019

GBG takes two at Fall Champs

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: GBG Marucci Navy 2020

GBG Marucci Navy 2020 claims Upperclass Fall Championship

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – It’s become the best and biggest travel ball rivalry on the West Coast, and whenever teams from the Southern California-based GBG and CBA organizations lock horns with a Perfect Game national championship on the line, the only expectation is excellence. And that expectation was met once again on Monday afternoon

Smooth and easy 2020 right-hander Brandon Madrigal was lights-out during a sterling complete-game effort and his teammates were able to push across a pair of runs, which proved to be just enough to lead GBG Marucci Navy 2020 to a 2-0 win over CBA Marucci 2020 in the championship game at the PG WWBA Upperclass Fall National Championship Protected by G-Form; the championship game was played at Goodyear BallPark.

“This is special especially because this team has been together for so long,” Madrigal told PG postgame before he walked over to get fitted for his PG National Championship ring. “It’s not like we have a ton of different players at each event, it’s been the same core – all of us have been together for about 10 years or more because we started playing in youth baseball even before GBG.

“It’s really special to be able to finish it with a victory, this being one of the last events we’ll play together; it’s really special for all of us.”

Madrigal was workmanlike while throwing the complete-game shutout, limiting CBA 2020’s potent batting order to just three singles while striking out six and walking two. He threw 91 pitches, 61 percent of them for strikes, seemingly content to let the CBA hitters put the ball in play and, in turn, let his fielders do their jobs behind him.

But he was challenged in the seventh inning because, well, that’s just what CBA teams do.

Clinging to a 2-0 lead, Madrigal walked Ildefonso Ruiz to lead-off the top of the frame and  Landon Wallace followed with a single, putting runners on first and second with no outs. But Madrigal got the next CBA batter to pop out and the next two to strikeout swinging and strikeout looking, and the game and the championship were secure.

“In the seventh inning I was gassed; in between pitches I was laboring quite a bit and I was tired,” Madrigal said. “I kind of got this surge midway through the inning and I was like, I’ve just got to finish this, I’ve come this far and I don’t want to stop now – I’ve got to finish what I started. I was exhausted but the adrenaline kind of kicked-in and gave me the chance to finish it.”

The No. 2-seeded GBG Navy 2020s (6-0-0) scored their first run in the bottom of the first when Jacob Wilson stroked a one-out single, moved to second on a fielder’s choice and came around to score on a two-out, RBI double from Diego Baqueiro.

They struck again in the bottom half of the fourth with an unearned run when Baqueiro reached on an error and scored when Brett McCauley also reached on a CBA fielding miscue; Baqueiro finished with a single and a double, the only player on either team with multiple hits.

“What a pitching performance from Brandon Madrigal and some clutch hits  from our boys,” GBG founder/owner/head coach Michael Garciaparra said postgame. “It’s a special group of guys who have played together for a long time and have known each other for maybe eight to 10 years … and it’s super fun to see that.”

No. 4-seeded CBA Marucci 2020 (6-1-0) also received a fine start from its pitcher, 2020 left-hander Brett Wozniak. He allowed only the one earned run on six hits in five innings of work, with two strikeouts and no walks.

But this was an especially satisfying outcome for Madrigal, who started his travel ball career with CBA as a youngster before jumping over to GBG in the summer between his freshman and sophomore years in high school.

“It feels good because I’ve never gotten to play against them before,” he said. “Being able to play with these guys on this (GBG) team that I’ve played with for (a long time) now, it’s been a blast. Coming into the game I just wanted to do whatever I could to give us the best chance to win and I’m just happy; there’s really nothing more to say.”

Garciaparra revealed that Madrigal had approached him once the playoffs got underway on Sunday and told the head coach that if GBG and CBA met in the championship game he wanted the ball; Garciaparra was more than happy to oblige.

“I told him, we’ll get you there, man, you go win it, and he suited up and he was ready to go and he did it,” Garciaparra said. “Especially in that last inning he was battling adversity and throwing clutch pitches when we needed him to, and he regained his composure; that’s just kind of the special kid he is.”

Perhaps this goes without saying, but Madrigal – a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander and a Columbia University commit from Moorpark, Calif., ranked as a top-500 prospect nationally – was named the event’s Most Valuable Pitcher based on this outing alone.

CBA’s Rocco Peppi, a 2020 infielder and a No. 416-ranked Long Beach State commit from Huntington Beach, Calif., was named the Most Valuable Player. He went 6-for-16 (.375) with a double and five singles, and also walked 10 times (.615 on-base), drove in three runs, scored eight others and  stole four bases from his place at the top of the CBA 2020 batting order.

The Upperclass Fall Championship capped a pretty memorable day for those associated with the Garciaparra Baseball Group. GBG Marucci Navy 2023 kicked the morning off by winning the PG WWBA Freshman Fall National Championship title on the same field (see below).

“It’s kind of surreal; you’re like, holy cow,” Garciaparra said. “I couldn’t be more excited for our freshman group, which is brand new to our program; they’re a much better group from summer until now. … It’s super fun to see with our coaches and our program how they’ve developed them in a short time, and the players bought in. …

“And then to come back with this upperclass group that has a lot of success at the PG events for years,” he added. “It’s our last hurrah in Arizona which kind of makes it bittersweet … but I couldn’t be more happy for them and how they came together and battled adversity.”

2019 PG Upperclass Fall Championship Protected by G-Form champions: GBG Marucci Navy 2020

2019 PG Upperclass Fall Championship Protected by G-Form runner-up: CBA Marucci 2020

2019 PG Upperclass Fall Championship Protected by G-Form MVP: Rocco Peppi

2019 PG Upperclass Fall Championship Protected by G-Form MV-Pitcher: Brandon Madrigal

GBG Marucci Navy 2023 captures Freshman Fall crown

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – The first inning of play wasn’t very pretty regardless of which dugout the viewing was done from, but in the end the kids from California cleaned up their act and claimed yet another Perfect Game national championship.

Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based GBG Marucci Navy 2023 trailed 2-0 after a half inning but scored five unanswered runs the rest of the way, and beat South Jordan-based MBA Utah 2023, 6-2, in the championship game at the PG Freshman Fall National Championship Protected by G-Form played Monday morning at Goodyear BallPark.

The No. 2-seeded GBG Navy 2023s completed a 6-0-0 run through the tournament field while claiming the championship in the event’s fourth year. The MBA Utah 2023s finished up at 4-1-1.

“I’m proud of the way we were able to come back even from- them scoring two runs in the first inning; it shows who we really are as a team,” GBG 2023 middle-infielder Julien Cojulun said postgame. “We were able to bounce back and after that first inning we had control the whole time.”

MBA Utah got on the board in the top of the first when Cade Nalder and Billy Bird both received two-out walks, and Nalder was driven in by a two-out single off the bat of Nolan Miller. Jacob Faust also walked and during his at-bat, Bird scampered across the plate on a passed ball.

GBG Marucci answered with three runs of its own in the bottom half, also taking advantage of a pitcher’s wildness. Henry Leipart received a lead-off walk just before the No. 2 hitter Cojulun was hit by a pitch. Tyler Shulman stepped in and delivered an RBI single that pushed Leipart across the plate. After Jason Roah and Jaden Alba were plunked by pitches, Shulman scored on a passed ball.

“I was really happy our hitters were disciplined; we weren’t chasing things,” GBG Navy 2023 head coach Zak Krislock said. “We made the most out of what they gave us at the start and I think that was the big key.”

They GBG Navy 2023 tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the third on the strength of two, one-out walks, a two-out walk and a two-run, line-drive single to left off the bat of Caden Abraham. They pushed across a single run in the bottom of the sixth on a leadoff walk to Charlie Greenleaf, a one-out single from William Shulman and an RBI, line-drive single to center from Leipart.

2023 right-hander Madden Ocko made the start for the Navy 2023 and labored through 2 1/3 innings with some back tightness, giving up two unearned runs on one hit while walking five. Zach Mora, another 2023 righty, came on in relief and shutout the Utah 2023s the rest of the way, allowing five hits and striking out six while walking two.

“Obviously, the turning point in the game was when we brought Zach Mora into the game,” GBG Marucci Navy 2023 head coach Zak Krislock said. “He settled the whole thing down and the strike-rate went up, and we played great defense the whole tournament.”

Cojulun seemed to be on base the entire tournament for GBG, going 6-for-18 (.333) with three doubles, three singles, three walks (.500 on-base percentage) with seven RBI and eight runs scored and was named the Most Valuable Player.

“This is great; this is amazing,” Cojulun said of the team championship. “You never expect to make it this far, but we played great, the whole team. Everyone in the lineup, it didn’t matter where we were, you had confidence in whoever was up.”

GBG’s Greenleaf, a 2023 right-hander, made two appearances and worked 8 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run (0.81 ERA) on five hits while striking out nine and walking two, and was named the MV Pitcher.

“We played all three phases as good as we could probably play them,” Krislock said. “We pitched well, we didn’t walk a lot of people, we threw strikes, we forced contact and our defense was spectacular the whole time. We put together two-out clutch hitting – I’d like to see how many runs we drove in with two outs the whole week. That kind of clutch hitting is always going to help you in the long run.

“We played with the lead almost the whole tournament … and that makes the game a lot easier when that happens, too.”

2019 PG Freshman Fall Championship Protected by G-Form champions: GBG Marucci Navy 2023

2019 PG Freshman Fall Championship Protected by G-Form runner-up: MBA Utah 2023

2019 PG Freshman Fall Championship Protected by G-Form MVP: Julien Cojulun

2019 PG Freshman Fall Championship Protected by G-Form MV-Pitcher: Charlie Greenleaf

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