Tournaments | Championship | 7/6/2020

Team Elite Emerge Champs at 16u Firecracker

Brett Greenberg        
Photo: Team Elite Scout (Perfect Game)
MARIETTA, Ga. – The championship game of the 2020 16U Firecracker Finale took place Sunday night with the one-seeded Ninth Inning Royals Honeycutt taking on the two-seed Team Elite Scout Team. The two teams faced off on field one at the East Cobb Baseball Complex in Marietta, Georgia after a weekend filled with premier amateur baseball and entertaining gameplay. Given that these two teams were seeded one and two after pool play, it was no surprise to see these teams facing off for the chip. 

The one-seeded Ninth Inning Royals, despite a scary semifinal, cruised through the tournament field. Ninth Inning, through three pool play games, scored a total of 28 runs while shutting out all of their opponents. After yet another run rule victory in the quarterfinals, Ninth Inning would see its first challenge of the week from the 643 DP Tigers Hawkins in the semifinal game. Ironically, it took nine innings, but Ninth Inning was able to win 1-0 thanks to a sacrifice fly by Sadir Ryan. Pitchers, Matthew Navarro and Rhett Burley worked together to silence the 643 bats, posting a shutout. 

The underdog, two-seeded Team Elite Scout Team finished pool play with three wins, scoring 22 runs while allowing only four. They were able to inch out a 3-2 victory in the quarterfinals over the East Tennessee Crusaders and were powered behind a stellar outing by South Carolina commit, Adrian Roman, who pitching 6.2 innings. Team Elite was able to come out with a mercy rule victory over the 643 DP Jaguars McPhee. Team Elite pushed runs across the board while relying on their pitcher, Wes Simpson, and his five innings of stellar work, allowing only one hit while striking out four. This set up what was expected to be a very entertaining championship and a great way to cap off the Firecracker Finale. 

After a quiet first inning on both sides, Team Elite Scout Team was able to get on the board first thanks to a two-run double by Gavin Black. They were able to keep the momentum going with an RBI double by Cooper Blauser, who came around to score after taking advantage of a bad throw to second base. After just one and half innings, Ninth Inning saw themselves down by four runs. Team Elite kept the pressure on in the top of third extending their lead to five runs after an RBI double by Hayden Murphy.

The Ninth Inning bats woke up in the bottom of third scoring two runs to make the score 5-2 after three innings. Damien Anderson singled then scored on Cayden Gaskin’s RBI double. Aaron Lopez kept the train moving earning himself an RBI after hitting a deep line drive for a double. 

Team Elite’s bats responded in the top of the fourth inning scoring one run to extend their lead to four, followed by Kaden Martin who hit a ball deep enough to score the runner from third. After four innings, Team Elite led Ninth Inning 6-2. Both teams’ bats were silenced in the fifth inning. 

It was more of the same in the top of the sixth inning for Team Elite. They were able to keep the pressure on the Ninth Inning Royals scoring three more runs to extend their lead to seven. With two outs, Sammy Leis, Bryce Hubbard and Hayden Murphy were able to deliver timely hits. 

In the bottom half of the sixth, Ninth Inning responded with three runs of their own to cut into the deficit by playing small ball, with three singles and a couple of walks. Before the final inning, Team Elite lead Ninth Inning 9-5. This would be the last time either team crossed the plate. 

Starting pitcher for Team Elite, Hayden Murphy, worked efficiently on the mound pounding the zone, while throwing between 85-89 mph. Murphy was able to silence the Ninth Inning bats for 5 innings, while striking out five as well. Kaden Martin came in for relief in the final two innings giving up three runs, but it did not cost his team the lead. Murphy and Martin both worked behind their team’s big lead, which allowed for them to be comfortable on the mound. 

Team Elite Scout Team are the 2020 16U PG Firecracker Finale champions by a score of 9-5 over the Ninth Inning Royals Honeycutt. This high scoring affair was a perfect night cap to a beautiful Sunday filled with intense bracket play and stellar individual performances. 

Both teams will be participating in the 2020 WWBA 16U National Championship from July 10th to July 17th, as we look forward to more Perfect Game events. 
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