Tournaments | Story | 10/10/2019

Scorpions Have Balanced Attack

Blake Dowson        
Photo: Dylan Crews (Perfect Game)
JUPITER, Fla. -- Baseball is a game won between the lines, one out at a time. That has always been true, and it always will be true.

You can’t win a game on paper, no matter how good a lineup looks against another.

Scorpions Founders Club head coach Jerry Kennedy knows that, but you couldn’t blame him if he said it with a little wink.

His team is a paper giant, looking to translate that to the field this week against the best travel ball teams across this country, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

“These things are so tough to win, you’ve got to have some luck along the way,” Kennedy said. “I never go into these things thinking about a clear-cut favorite, because you’ve got to play, and anybody can beat anybody.”

He didn’t wink when he said that. Because he knows it’s true.

That being said, Scorpions Founders Club has what could be the deepest lineup in the entire tournament, with four Perfect Game All-Americans and five total top-100 players in the 2020 class. That makes for a pretty piece of paper.

Dylan Crews leads off for the team. The outfielder is the No. 8 prospect in the class and hits the ball all over the yard at every tournament he attends.

Crews, an LSU commit, has never hit worse than .333 during a calendar year at Perfect Game events. He’s the first out you have to try to get against this Scorpions team.

“We’ve got to make sure he gets his four at-bats,” Kennedy said of Crews. “So he’s been leading us off in the past and will again this weekend.”

In any order after Crews, opposing pitchers have to deal with PG All-Americans Zac Veen, Michael Brooks, Jack O'Dowd, and No. 95 2020 prospect CJ Kayfus, who was recently named the MVP of the WWBA Florida Qualifier, the tournament the Scorpions won to get into the World Championship.

Baseball is a game won one out at a time. It’s rather hard to find outs against this lineup, especially when Kennedy lines all those bats up at the top of the order.

“This summer we pretty much stacked them the entire time,” he said. “This fall we haven’t been playing a ton of ball. We’ve only done two events, with the qualifier. I think we’ll stack it, and depending on the matchups we might go a little righty, lefty split.”

Matching up against a certain pitcher might change the order of the five-headed monster around a bit, but there’s balance among the group. Crews and Brooks hit from the right side. O’Dowd, Veen, and Kayfus hit from the left.

The lineup doesn’t stop after those five, either. It’s deeper than that. It also includes Florida State commit Richie Morales, a shortstop, who looks every bit the part of an ACC middle infielder. Fellow Seminole commit Colin Apgar mans an outfield spot by Crews, Devin Burkes is the team’s backstop, and he’s headed to Kentucky soon to be a Wildcat.

Tripp McKinlay and Lucas Costello are a pair of shortstops heading to Washington and Wake Forest, respectively.

You get the point. But what about pitching?

“Our pitching is good. We’ve got a lot of strike-throwers,” Kennedy said. “We don’t quite have the power arms that we’ve had in the past coming into Jupiter, but we’ve got three-pitch mix guys that mix it up. We’re not going to light up the radar, but we’ll pitch.”

So they have the hitters and they have the pitching necessary to make a lot of noise this weekend. That looks promising on paper.

But it takes experience to win a tournament like this, and that doesn’t show up on paper.

Go figure, the Scorpions have that, too.

This group was a co-champion at the WWBA Underclass World Championship a year ago, playing with basically the same roster as they brought to the World Championship this weekend.

As it turns out, a championship at this tournament this weekend is the only one not in the organization’s trophy case.

“This is pretty much the same team. I think we’ve added a few arms and a couple position players, but this is for the most part the same team,” Kennedy said. “That absolutely helps. The team camaraderie is really good. They’re good kids. They’ve been playing together for a long time now. From Underclass last year, throughout this summer and up until now. Now this is our last go-around.

“They know what’s at stake. They’re coming in here with a goal, and that’s to win the whole thing. This is the only Perfect Game event that eludes us, we haven’t won this one yet.”

That goal has to start by getting out of Pool M, which includes PG Iowa, Mets Scout Team/Georgia Bombers, and Rawlings National Scout Team – Sticks.

A pair of top-100 prospects highlight the Rawlings National Scout Team in Masyn Winn and Ethan Long, so the Scorpions are not alone in that regard.

It does seem like their pool to lose, however. At these on paper.

Kennedy knows that doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you actually go out and win, though.

“Perfect Game does a great job of getting these top players in the country and the top organizations to this event,” he said. “In that sense, everyone is coming in here on an equal playing field. There might be some that come in with a little more confidence because on paper they look pretty good, but again, you’ve got to play.”

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