Tournaments | Story | 10/12/2019

Maturity Rules Top Tier Roos

Blake Dowson        
Photo: Aidan Miller (Perfect Game)

2019 WWBA Freshman World Championship Event Page | Top Tier Roos American 2023 vs. South Jersey Young Guns Game Recap | Top Tier Roos American 2023 vs. Bo Jackson Elite 2023 Game Recap

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Top Tier Roos American 2023 is loud.

Not in a 15-year-old kids messing around with their friends in the dugout sort of way, although you certainly couldn’t blame them all that much if that were the case.

No, the Roos are yelling “TALK!” when a fly ball is hit to the outfield. They yell at hitters to stay patient at the plate, as the opposing pitcher continues to struggle to find the zone.

The runner that just scored is pulling the on-deck hitter aside to tell him what he saw from the pitcher when he did get him in the zone.

This is a mature group. If they were all 20 years old, it would be a mature group.

It’s the kind of maturity that keeps everyone engaged, even as they rolled to a four-inning, run-rule victory in their first pool play game, 13-0 over South Jersey Young Guns.

“A lot of it has to do with these kids having played together since they were 10, 11 years old,” Top Tier Roos coach Jason Miller said. “They’ve always been in big moments, so they always lean on each other, and no moment is too big for them. You see the same approach game-to-game, regardless of the score. They take quality at-bats, they’re always ready to make a play in the field. We’ve been fortunate. A little bit is from their training but a lot of it is the makeup a kid has.”

The Roos roster is headlined by Aidan Miller, the No. 2 player in the 2023 class and 14u PG Select Festival participant. Miller looks every bit the part of a top prospect, and backs that look up with his play on the field.

In game one, Miller went 0-for-3, although he did drive a run in with a sac fly in the third inning. It showed how balanced the lineup can be, even with the star not producing at the plate.

Miller got a fastball in the zone in game two, however, and deposited it over the outfield wall for a touch-em-all.

He talked after the Roos first game about how he just needed to stay patient heading into their second game of the day.

“I just take my time and try to find a fastball," he said. "Look fastball and once you get one, don’t miss it and hit it hard.”

Five different Roos hitters collected a hit in game one, from leadoff hitter and PG Select Festival participant Colton Wombles to eight-hole hitter Landen Maroudis.

The approach from each of them at the plate was, as one could guess, extremely mature. Every batter seemingly wanted to go middle-away with whatever they were given. If they didn’t get anything good to hit, they spit on it and gladly took their walk.

South Jersey pitchers surrendered 10 walks in the game, but that number doesn’t do them any favors whatsoever. They were around the zone for the most part, it was simply the Roos hitters proving it nearly impossible to get them to expand the zone.

“One thing I preach to them is to make sure they’re aggressive,” Jason Miller said. “Hunting fastballs and driving fastballs in the zone. A lot of 3-0 counts we’re swinging the bat. I want them to know they always have the green light to go up there and be aggressive in the zone. With wood bats at this age, you’re looking to stroke the ball the other way.”

Although the 10 walks would seemingly contradict the preached approach from their coach, the Roos were aggressive in the zone.

Miller’s sac fly came on a fastball in the zone that he drove deep to right-center field. Wombles took a hanging breaking ball and smoked it over the left fielder’s head for a double.

Selective aggressiveness, if you will.

The shared approach can be traced back to practice, which is only possible because the kids are all from the same area, Miller said.

“We train together,” he said. “That’s one of the benefits of having all the kids from Tampa. We all work together. They’re in the game. They’re in the moment.”

The quiet X factor in a 13-run rout is typically the pitcher who goes about his business on the mound, putting up zeroes and putting the bats back into his teammate’s hands.

Anthony Gualemi tossed three scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. More importantly in a tournament with pitch-count limits, he needed only 42 pitches to get through those three frames. A modest three strikeouts and no walks got him through his outing quickly.

Vance Celiberti closed out the game in the top of the fourth with a scoreless frame, collecting a strikeout while only dealing 11 pitches.

It was the same story in game two against Bo Jackson Elite 2023, as the Roos tromped to a run-rule victory, 10-0 in five innings. Along with Miller's home run, Cade Kurland and Cristofer Walley both had two-RBI games.

Run-rule victories mean fewer innings for pitchers, which means fewer pitches, which means the Roos are sitting pretty heading into the playoff bracket.

“[Short games] help,” Jason Miller said. “It knocks out a game for us. Anthony pitched really well for us today and can come back on Monday. So we’re in a pretty good spot, pitching-wise.”

The Roos are a tough out. That applies to each and every at-bat, and it applies generally to their chances of making their way through a tournament bracket.

Aidan Miller knows his team can make a run, but it will be one game at a time. According to him, so far so good.

“After the PG World Series, we took a little break,” he said. “So first game back, I’d say it went pretty well. Everyone took good pitches, took their walks, we were patient. It was an all-around game for us.”

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