Tournaments | Championship | 7/14/2020

Champions crowned in Tomball

Jerry Miller        
Photo: Banditos 17u Black (Perfect Game)
17U Central Elite


Michael Hogan (2021, Crosby, TX), Charles Mooney (2021, Crosby, TX), and James Woodruff (2021, Crosby, TX) pitched the Sons of Thunder into the 17U Central Elite Finals by holding down the always explosive Hunter Pence Baseball Academy-Cunningham, 3-2. The three-headed Crosby HS pitching staff battled through some command issues, but they held the HPBA to only one hit. Hogan and Mooney did most of the work, throwing 6 2/3 innings between them. Although they walked nine, they only gave up the one knock. They struck out nine HPBA hitters. Woodruff came on and retired the only hitter he faced, throwing only two pitches to get the 21st and final out of the game, enabling the Sons of Thunder to advance to the finals.

In the other 17U semi-final, the Texas Twelve Gold 2022 squad beat their rivals, the 16U Banditos Elite 2-1 in 10 innings. In a game dominated by pitching and defense, 12 Gold was finally able to break through to score the winning run on a clutch knock by Ryan Franden (2022, Katy, TX) who lined a single through a drawn in infield. The 6-1, 150 pound Seven Lakes HS rising junior, and lefthanded swinger, drilled a fastball on the outside corner into left field, setting off a gigantic celebration and pushing the Texas Twelve Gold 2022 club into the finals.

Championship Game

The 2020 17U Central Elite Championship hardware, via a 6-0 win over a very competitive Sons of Thunder team, will find a place in the Twelve organization’s trophy case because of the Gold 2022’s ability to command the strike zone and make plays.

The phrase “Attention to Detail” is probably written somewhere on a wall at the Texas Twelve facility in Katy, Texas. Few programs are as rooted in fundamental development than 12. It is ingrained early on in each player’s mind-set as they pass through the Twelve system. The Texas Twelve Gold 2022 club best exemplifies all that is right with the program mantra of the 12 organization.

The entire pitching staff took great pride in routinely throwing strikes. Each pitcher works with a certain pace and rhythm, which helps their defense. Although the fastball velocities weren’t necessarily eye-popping, the staff worked the edges and stayed off the middle of the plate. The 12 staff were also adept at mixing in sound secondary pitches inducing a number of feeble efforts by their opponents.

Most importantly, the 12 Gold pitchers consistently pounded the zone all weekend long.

Offensively, the Texas Twelve Gold 2022 are, as a collective, solid hitters. They practice great plate discipline. Most, if not all, of their hitters, use a short, compact swing operation and get their barrels on path with a middle of the field mentality. Rarely does anyone see the 12 club unnecessarily expand the zone. They get the good part of the bat to the ball quickly and with force and the results are fairly evident. Loud contact!

What separated the 12 Gold 2022 club from all the other teams at this year’s 17U Elite Championship, however, was their ability to play great defense. It appears that this club takes great pride in not only making the routine play, but in always being in position to support each other. To say that Texas Twelve Gold 2022 plays great team defense, would be the understatement of the tournament.

To select a particular individual performance over another is really tough, and contrary to the collective efforts of the Texas Twelve Gold 2022 club. They are a true team and they are very well-coached. Unlike a number of teams, this group can take coaching, which is rare in this day and age. They respond, individually and collectively, to adversity and they produce in the clutch. Most of all, an obvious trait that is the hallmark of this team, is that they play for each other. That was evident throughout the Texas Twelve Gold 2022 run to the 17U Central Elite Championship.

Congratulations to the 2020 Perfect Game 17U Central Elite Champions – The Texas Twelve Gold 2022!

MVPitcher – Connor Pratka (2022, Magnolia, TX) – Texas Twelve Gold 2022

MVP – Andrew Berg (2022, Conroe, TX) – Texas Twelve Gold 2022

18u South World Series


The Texas Trappers National Scout Team staged a furious late game rally, overcoming a 4-1 deficit, to defeat the Scorpions Team EASTON, 5-4. Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the 6th, the Trappers plated one in that frame to pull within a marker. They completed their comeback in the bottom of the 7th in dramatic fashion. Alejandro Zozaya (2021, Houston, TX) drove in the tying run with a hustle, infield single to shortstop. The 5-10, 155 pound rising senior at Langham Creek HS was not to be denied as he sprinted through the first base bag as the big run crossed the dish. Ethan Bowen (2023, Atoka, OK) completed the comeback with a ground single to right field which pushed across the game winner for the victorious Trappers, setting off a gigantic celebration around the first base bag. The young, 5-10, 155 pound Oklahoman has been stellar for the Trappers and his clutch knock pushed the Texas Trappers to the championship game against PG traditional power, the 17U Banditos Black.

The 17U Banditos Black, behind Baylor commit, Mason Marriott (2021, Tomball, TX) dominated the Hunter Pence Baseball Academy 2021 Rachal 3-0 to advance to the 18U South World Series title game. The 6-1, 170, rising senior at Tomball HS could not have performed much better. In front of a large professional scout presence, all Marriott did was throw a 97 pitch complete game one-hitter. He allowed three walks and struck out 13. He worked off his well-commanded 88-92 mph fastball and his wipe-out, swing and miss 78 mph slider.

Slade McCloud (2021, Robinson, TX) gave Marriott and the Banditos all the offense the club needed when he drove a 3-2 fastball for a towering three-run homer well over the right field fence in the top of the 3rd inning. The Robinson HS rising senior and Seminole State (OK) commit, used a slightly open stance and a classic lefthander’s swing path to get his barrel to contact. It did not take long for everyone in the park to know his drive was gone. The three run blast was all Mason Marriott would need.

Championship Game

This edition of Banditos Baseball was on a mission from Day One. They arrived in Tomball on Thursday with a steely-eyed focus and they carried that all the way through to the 18U South World Series Championship. The 17U Banditos Black completed their goal of a PG World Series Championship on Monday morning, with a dominant 13-0 victory over a game Texas Trappers National Scout Team.

It is well known throughout the amateur baseball circuit that it takes a certain mindset to play in the Banditos organization. Players who wear the Bandito “B” on their jersey and hat must have thick skin, a short memory, and be able to perform at a high level under constant scrutiny. The eyes of college coaches and pro scouts are always present when any Banditos team takes the field. A learned and vocal coaching staff that expects perfection or at the least, perfect effort, is a constant. Not every age group player can or wants to be a Bandito. Those who can handle all the trappings that go into being a part of this organization usually find a great deal of success. But, first and foremost, they had better be tough, inside and out!

This Banditos team – the 17U Black – could not only handle the attention and the pressure – they could perform – as proven throughout their march into the PG winner’s circle.

The 17U Banditos Black club is a collective group of get down and dirty, old-school type players. They played the game hard all weekend and they, for the most part, played it right. They hustled. They threw strikes with dominant stuff. They made plays with the leather. And, they hit. And, hit. And, hit some more!

Many of the young men who suited up for the Banditos Black 17U club will see their careers continue after high school. Many, if not all, on this roster, will play college ball. Some, who will use the lessons learned while playing in Bandito Black and get a little better at the next level, will have the opportunity to play professionally. All will be prepared physically and mentally for the challenges that lie ahead because of what they have learned in the Banditos organization.

Congratulations to the 2020 Perfect Game 18U South World Series Champions – Banditos 17U Black!

MVPitcher – Mason Marriott (2021, Tomball, TX) – 17U Banditos Back

MVP – Slade McCloud (2021, Robinson, TX) – 17U Banditos Black
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