Tournaments | Story | 7/3/2020

BPA Not Afraid of East Coast Competition

Brett Greenberg        
Photo: Cooper Pratt (Perfect Game)
MARIETTA, Ga. – The typical travel ball team consists of twenty plus players, a large coaching staff, and multiple players from different states. BPA is not one of your typical teams. The 15U BPA lead by Head Coach Jared Sandler, based out of Laguna Nigel, California, has fifteen players on its roster and only two coaches. 

When Coach Sandler was asked about his not so ordinary team, he went on to say they do things differently than most organizations. He states that fifteen-year-old baseball is the prime year for players to begin to understand the game completely and to become better men in life. Coach Sandler also made it clear that the point of summer ball is to develop players, not to recruit players from the around the country in hopes of winning a Perfect Game tournament. 

“The BPA organization prides itself on developing players for college ball,” said Coach Sandler. “The coaches want to put our players in the right situation to be successful in the future.” 

BPA had two players drafted in the top 100 in this year’s MLB draft. This year’s team currently has one D-1 commitment, Cooper Pratt, the number one ranked shortstop in Mississippi and Ole Miss commit, and six players in the top 250 in the U.S. for the 2023 class. 

The Coronavirus pandemic has not stopped BPA as much as other teams. They have been able to travel to different cities in the last month to compete in baseball tournaments. The 2020 15U WWBA National Championship is BPA’s fourth tournament of the year, after competing in tournaments in Utah, Texas, and Las Vegas.

“California is still on lockdown, so our players were itching to get back on the field,” said Coach Sandler. “We have not been able to get onto a field to practice at home, so we are going around the country participating in tournaments.” 

After finishing pool play with four wins and one loss, BPA earned themselves a spot in bracket play as a 25th seed and has currently won four games against higher seeded teams. Coach Sandler said all his team needs to do is get into bracket play for it to be a successful tournament for them. He says once you get into bracket play, anything can happen. BPA has won the WWBA one time and has been runner-up several times. 

“This is an event that BPA has been coming to for years, so we have seen it all,” said Coach Sandler. “The guy on the mound is the most important player in this type of tournament because you can face someone throwing 75 mph one game then see another throwing 90 mph the next.” 

Through Coach Sandler’s eyes, bracket play allows for his players to be put in all different types of situations, which serve as learning moments. When asked what he would like to see his team improve upon this summer, Coach Sandler says he wants to see his players learn the game and be able to adapt to different situations. He also says each player has adjustments to work on this summer, whether that be at the plate, on the mound, or in the field. 

“Baseball has a lot of lessons and learning moments that are parallel to life,” said Coach Sandler. “The game teaches people how to work hard and how to adapt to different situations, which are needed to be successful in ordinary life.” 

Coach Sandler also mentioned that traveling all around the country for tournaments serves a purpose other than to play ball. He says traveling allows for his players to deal with different situations, whether that be getting to the field on time or finding the hotel for example. Staying in hotels lets his players make decision for themselves, something fifteen-year-olds are just learning. 

“When we travel from city to city, the players are put into situations in which they need to adapt,” said Coach Sandler. “For example, are you going to be one of the kids playing video games in the hotel room all night or are you going to lift weights and watch film.”

BPA is a top tier run organization that prioritizes the growth and development of its players over winning tournaments. Coach Sandler and BPA has surprised plenty of teams this week and look to surprise more the rest of this summer. 

BPA will be participating in the semifinals vs. ECB Astros 15U of the 2020 WWBA 15U National Championship Friday, July 3rd at 8:00 a.m. followed by the championship game.
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