Tournaments | Story | 12/12/2019

NCTB Announces Its Presence

Blake Dowson        
Photo: NCTB Prime (Jim Sammons)

NCTB’s biggest foray is hosting its own tournaments in northern California, something it has been doing since 2005.

It hasn’t been more than a couple years since they started putting their own teams together and sending them to tournaments to compete with the NCTB name across their chests.

“We’ve really just started in the past couple years taking teams to different events,” General Manager and Coach Jim Sammons said. “The [WWBA Freshman World Championship] was basically the first Perfect Game event we had ever taken a team to…It was an event we had kind of had circled.”

From running the different tournaments and leagues they put on, it was apparent that the talent they had on their hands was as good as any other region in the country, Sammons said.

NCTB sent out a feeler to all of the players that participate in The League, an eighth grade developmental league for the top players in northern California, to see if there would be any interest in travelling to West Palm Beach to play in the Freshman Worlds.

There wasn’t a single ‘no’ from the group.

“It was crazy,” Sammons said. “We didn’t think it would be anywhere as easy as it was. We had planned to do one team. We sent it out to everyone in the league, and everyone said yes, so we were like, ‘Alright, we’ll do another team.’”

NCTB Alpha Dogs was created, a collection of the best players from the northern California area. To fill out a second roster, which became NCTB Prime, Sammons used his connections with USA Baseball to create a larger national roster, with players from all over California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and one from Kansas.

The recruiting pitch to the kids was easy, according to Sammons.

“One of the draws, obviously, was as big as the recruiting stuff is now, that was one of the big pitches,” he said. “Going to that event, you’re going to be able to play guys that are ranked really high and teams that are ranked really high. And then with all of our connections with college coaches, they basically said, ‘If you guys come to this event, you’re going to get a ton of really good coverage.’ Which ended up being true.”

Both NCTB squads went 2-0 in pool play. Alpha Dogs did it with its bats, scoring 15 runs over the two games, and Prime did it with pitching, tossing consecutive shutouts to win Pool U.

Tanner Forbus took care of the first shutout all by himself for Prime against Vipers Baseball Club 2023’s, allowing only three hits over seven innings while striking out six. Brad Grindlinger, Sammy Vander Hill, and Ty Southisene combined for the second shutout against MA Show 2023 National.

The dominant pool play performance earned Prime the No. 4 overall seed in bracket play, where it grabbed a dramatic first round, walk-off victory against GRIT BLACK, with Southisene pushing across the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Prime lost a close 6-4 matchup against eventual semifinalist Tri State Arsenal 2023 Scout Team in the second round, while outhitting Tri State, 10 hits to four.

“That group ended up being really young,” Sammons said of his NCTB Prime team. “I think we had six 2024s. But they were awesome, they showed really well and I was really happy with how they played.”

Prime ended up with nine all-tournament players – Jp Acosta, Casey Borba, Derek Curiel, Forbus, Grindlinger, Ashton Larson, Greg Pierantoni, Hideki Prather, and Southisene.

The young roster that ended the tournament at 3-1 and earned the No. 4 overall seed at the tournament ends the year at No. 31 in Perfect Game’s final 2019 14u travel team rankings.

NCTB Alpha Dogs got in on the pitching too, with a shutout in its opening game against Scorpions 2023 Founders Club. Carl Rice, Carson Timothy, and Kyle Connelly combined to shut the door.

In Game 2, the team scored six runs in the first inning and two runs in each of the next three innings to beat Baseball U 2023, 12-6 in four innings.

After a 5-4 loss to Resmondo FTB, ranked No. 5 nationally in PG’s latest 14u rankings, in the first round of the playoffs and a 7-6 win over USA Prime National 15u in a consolation matchup, NCTB Alpha Dogs ended the tournament at 3-1.

The impressive performance from the northern California roster earned them the No. 25 national ranking in Perfect Game’s final 2019 14u travel team rankings.

NCTB Alpha Dogs ended up with six all-tournament selections – Connelly, Ryder Helfrick, Isaiah Landry, Rice, Cameron Schneider, and Nolan Stevens.

Sammons said the two teams didn’t travel to West Palm Beach in search of a national rankings and all-tournament selections, though. The goal was to play well against some good teams and in front of some big schools.

Check and check.

“You go into it, you want to find a way into the bracket,” he said. “If there’s an overarching hope or expectation or goal, let’s find a way to get into the bracket and get the boys a chance to play against some of the better teams and hopefully be seen by as many people as possible. Both groups got a chance to do that, and we’re pretty thankful for that. Neither game ended the way we wanted it to, the Alpha Dogs team got a tough draw against a really good FTB team…and with Prime, we had a really good game against Tri State Arsenal, we had chances in that one, but they just got it done.

“We thought the event was awesome. We’ll be back next year for sure. It was definitely worth it.”

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