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Tournaments | Story | 6/30/2020

3n2 Sticks on top at WWBA 17u North

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: 3n2 Sticks Baseball 17u National (Perfect Game)

MARION, Iowa – The 3n2 Sticks Baseball 17u National ventured away from their base of operations in Little Rock, Ark., last week, determined to do everything possible to stay safe and compete with a vengeance during the ongoing global pandemic.

They landed here amongst the farm fields of Eastern Iowa, overcame an early setback and eventually ended up right where they had both hoped and expected to be all along: On the top of the hill.

The No. 12 seeded 3n2 Sticks used 15 hits and a big assist from 11 walks and waltzed past No. 2 Wisconsin-based Hitters 2022 Navy by a 12-6 count in the championship game at the PG WWBA 17u North Championship, played at the Prospect Meadows Sports Complex on a warm and breezy late June Tuesday.

“Anytime you come out and you win six or seven games against good competition … you’ve got to play well and that’s what we did,” Sticks Baseball Manager/Director of Player Exposure Chase Brewster said after his 3n2 Sticks 17u National team had recorded the championship game’s final out.

“We were able to beat the one-seed and the two-seed on the last (day) and win the championship. We always say it’s not how you start it’s how you finish.”

The Sticks 17u National (6-1-1) plated four runs in the top of the third-a three-run home run from Gerald (Cross) Jumper was the big blow-five in the top of the fifth and three in the seventh to account for their run total; Jumper added a single later in the game finished with six RBI.

Dawson Chester, Rian Cellers and Gavin Kash all singled three times apiece to lead the Sticks’ hit parade; Chester and Cellers each drove in a pair of runs. Drake Varnado singled twice, drove in two runs and scored three and Braylon Bishop singled, walked twice, was hit by a pitch and scored three runs.

“We’ve got a lot of bats in the lineup; going from one-to-10, it doesn’t really matter,” Bishop said.

The Hitters Navy (7-1-0) pushed across single runs in the bottom half of both the third and fifth inning and four more in the bottom of the seventh. They totaled eight hits – led by Keegan Knutson with a single and a double and two RBI – and also collected five walks.

3n2 Sticks Baseball 17u National limped out of the gate at this event, dropping a 9-4 decision to the Wisconsin-based Prospect Training Academy 17u Cardinal in its opener Friday night. The Sticks then won their next two pool-play games before finishing a 0-0 tie with the Illinois-based Cangelosi Sparks 2021 White in the pool-play finale.

Carrying the No. 12 seed in the 16-team playoffs, they got into bracket play and took off, winning their first three games by a combined 21-6.

“We just knew we're going to have to throw really well,” Brewster said. “We walked 11 in the first game and I’m not sure that we walked 11 in the other seven games combined. …It’s OK to be bad once or twice and it’s never bad to be good all summer, and they bounced back.”

Added Cellars: “We did come out struggling a little bit but we picked it up the last couple of days. I think that shows that when we get rolling it’s going to be hard to stop us.”

Bishop, the No. 5-ranked overall prospect in the class of 2021 (No. 2 outfielder) and an Arkansas commit, was sensational over the WWBA North Championship’s five-day run. He went 12 for 22 (.545) with a home run, two triples, three RBI, 13 runs scored and seven stolen bases and was named the MV Player.

Bishop was fresh off an appearance at the PG National Showcase in Hoover, Ala., and will next be with his 3n2 Sticks Baseball 17u National teammates at the PG WWBA 17u National Championship July 17-24 in Marietta, Ga.

“This is just what I needed to be ready for the WWBA (NC),” he told PG postgame. “I kind of struggled at National, so I changed my swing a little bit a couple of days before I came here, and it helped a lot.”

Hitters’ 2022 lefthander Mason Buss made two appearances over the weekend, working nine innings of scoreless, two-hit ball, while striking out 11 and walking four; he was named the MV Pitcher.

The Sticks 17u National and the Hitters Navy advanced to the championship game by winning entertaining semifinal games Tuesday morning.

Drake Varnado singled twice and drove in a pair of runs and 2022 righthander Colton Sims threw a complete game two-hitter to lead the Sticks  to a 2-1 victory over the No. 1 Nebraska Prospects Scout 2021 (6-1-0). The Prospects’ Blake Stenger hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third to account for their lone run.

Dj Kojis singled, doubled and drove in two and Gavin Kilen also singled and doubled and contributed an RBI to lead Hitters past the No. 6 Cangelosi Sparks 2022 Black (6-1-0) in the other semifinal. Jack Lausch delivered a solo home for the Sparks.

“The (PG) guys here did a great job,” the Sticks’ Brewster concluded. “Prospect Meadows is a great complex … and Marion, Iowa was great, so we’re definitely going to plan on being back next summer.”

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