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Tournaments  | Championship  | 10/14/2019

Top Tier is Tops at Freshman

Blake Dowson     
Photo: Top Tier Roos American 2023 (Perfect Game)

See also: Maturity Rules Top Tier Roos

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Top Tier Roos American 2023 head coach Jason Miller waited until the championship game of the WWBA Freshman World Championship to play his ace card.

Aidan Miller, Jason’s son, is the No. 2 ranked player in the 2023 class, but that’s largely due to his bat and his work at third base.

On Championship Monday, facing 5 Star National 2023 Dobbs with a title up for grabs, Jason turned to Aidan to get him outs on the mound.

21 outs later, Top Tier was dogpiling under Aidan on the mound he started and finished the game on, after having thrown a complete game shutout to beat 5 Star, 5-0.

“I worked a low pitch count, which was good,” Miller said. “I trusted my defense and tried to hit my spots as much as I could.”

84 pitches was all he needed to get through seven innings of work, carving up the 5 Star lineup to the tune of eight strikeouts versus no walks and only three hits allowed.

Jason’s hope was to keep Aidan off the mound until the championship game, but knew it was a longshot with the grinding nature of a tournament this long, with so many talented lineups in dugouts opposite them.

He got more than enough from the rest of the pitchers on his staff, including Wesley Mendes, who threw 4 1/3 innings in the team’s semifinal matchup against Tri State Arsenal Scout Team 2023, allowing only one earned run and striking out nine.

“Wes Mendes this morning did a great job,” Jason Miller said. “The stars aligned. Coming off the 14u World Series win this summer with the same group of guys, it just felt like these guys know where they need to be in order to get to the end of a tournament.”

Aidan Miller was a large reason why the team hoisted a trophy at the end of the week.

Besides his work on the mound in the championship game, Miller hit .333 during the tournament, including 11 runs and 11 RBI, both of which led the pack at the Freshman Worlds. Among his five fits in the tournament were two loud doubles and a home run.

For his work, Miller was named MVP of the tournament, although he said he didn’t deserve it.

“Without the team, I wouldn’t have the award,” he said. “Everyone on this team was the MVP.”

Top Tier jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after Mendes walked, stole a base, and came around to score on a Cade Kurland RBI single to right field.

Kurland was at it again in the third inning. After Fletcher Hislop walked and Colton Wombles singled to start the inning, Kurland followed a Miller sac fly that made it 2-0 with another RBI single that stretched the lead to three.

Wombles did a little bit of everything for Top Tier in the championship game, and throughout the tournament as well. Along with a hit and a run scored, he was Miller’s batterymate the entire way.

Jason Miller said the energy Wombles brings is contagious.

“He’s a maniac,” he said. “He does what Wombles does. He’s a sparkplug. He’s a gamechanger on the field. You never know what you’re going to get out of him in terms of communication, his ra-ra. He’s a great dugout kid, top of the lineup guy for us, and a great leader.”

On the losing side of the title game was 5 Star, who bullied its way through pool play and the playoff bracket until it ran into Miller on the mound in the championship game.

The team scored 25 times in its first four bracket games, on top of the 11 it scored in its two pool pay games.

Connor Crisp dealed a gem in the team’s semifinal matchup against the Louisiana Knights, tossing all five innings of a 10-1 run-rule win, tossing seven strikeouts and allowing only three hits. The run Crisp allowed was unearned.

Crisp was named the MV-Pitcher of the tournament, a thought far from his mind heading into the tournament after not spending much time on the mound as of late.

“Feels great to win the award,” he said. “First time on the mound [in over a month], so that was really good…my feel came back right away. Slider, fastball, curveball were all working. In the bullpen I felt good, and I was like, ‘Alright, let’s do it.’”

For Top Tier and 5 Star both, getting to the championship game of the Freshman Worlds is a great accomplishment.

It’s the end of a long fall season, which followed a long summer season.

This was the final game of the year for Top Tier. Every team wants to win its last one. Not many get to.

“Can’t get any better than this,” Jason Miller said. “Win the last game of the season. We’ve done it two times in a row now, summer and here… For us, for most freshman teams, this is the biggest event of the year. So you come down here and play against the best teams and the best players in the country. You get a good preview of what you’re going to get next summer, which is really exciting.”

2019 WWBA Freshman World Championship runner-up: 5 Star National 2023 Dobbs

2019 WWBA Freshman World Championship MVP: Aidan Miller

2019 WWBA Freshman World Championship MV-Pitcher: Connor Crisp