Tournaments | Story | 7/16/2020

Florida Burn Scorch the Competition

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Florida Burn (Perfect Game)
The Florida Burn once again find themselves atop the mountain at an elite level 17U tournament as they captured the championship of the inaugural Ultimate Baseball Championship powered by Baseball America and Perfect Game. Eight of the most elite travel ball teams in the country came together in Hoover, Alabama to compete and see who was the best as the Florida Burn downed Team Elite Scout Team by a final score of 5-1.

The Burn have longed earned their reputation as giant killers, using fundamental baseball, timely hitting, and hard-nosed, tough ball players to upset some of the national contenders at big events. The paradigm has shifted as the Burn stand themselves as a giant now among the travel ball world as they’re back-to-back WWBA World Champions in Jupiter and now captured one of the crown jewels of the summer circuit en route to competing in Atlanta in the WWBA 17U National Championship starting this weekend.

“This is the first week that we became a team in terms of chemistry,” said Florida Burn third baseman Tommy White. “We all came together this weekend and prayed every day before the game and really bonded as a team. Carrying into Atlanta it should help us go further than expected because we have that bond now.”

The winning result wasn’t always so sure for the Burn as Team Elite starting pitcher Carter Holton, who went on to earn MV-Pitcher honors, was simply masterful. Holton worked 90-94 mph with his fastball and showed a full four-pitch arsenal as he held the Burn to only one hit through five shutout innings while striking out nine hitters.

Things shifted for the Burn in the top of the sixth inning where they had the top of the lineup up with a one-run deficit and a chance to come back and start fresh against a new arm. Michael Robertson worked a six-pitch walk, then White singled, and the cleanup man Tayden Hall moved the runners over to make it second and third with two away.

Team Elite then intentionally walked Satchell Norman to set up the force when Aidan Corn hit a 3-2 dribbler right past the pitcher’s mound that was in no man’s land to bring home the tying run. The go-ahead run was right behind as the runners were off with a full count and White was hustling and scored to take the lead.

The next hitter, Jake Mummau, smacked a line drive single up the middle to bring home two more runs and extend the lead to 4-1 as Mummau was thrown out trying to extend the single to second base. The Burn added another run in the top of the seventh before closing out the win in the bottom of the seventh.

Parker Fenton was terrific in relief, limiting a potent offense to no runs over the course of 3.1 innings pitched. Fenton worked his low 80's fastball and late breaking curveball past hitters as he punched out four hitters in the process.

Co-Founder and General Manager Mark Guthrie credited the team’s coaching staff and the quality of the tournament on the whole. Playing against elite competition is the biggest barometer of success and talent and the Florida Burn certainly passed that test with flying colors over the course of the event.

“Brenden Curcio and Toby Hall did a great job pulling all the right punches in this one and our kids are very resilient and that’s what you have to be,” said Guthrie. “Every player in this tournament was a quality college baseball player, a lot of professional baseball players going forward. It’s just a blessing to be able to compete against players like this and teams like this and everyone who’s on the same page in trying to promote amateur baseball. It’s an honor for us, it fell our way this year, and in the years to come we hope we can keep competing at this level.”

Carter Holton of Team Elite was named the MV-Pitcher of the event. The Vanderbilt commit was fantastic over two games where he totaled eight shutout innings with fifteen strikeouts and only three hits allowed. White was named the MVP of the event for the Florida Burn. The North Carolina State commit hit a robust .500 this weekend with three doubles and was a force in the middle of the lineup all weekend.

“My first game I had a big stride and struck out a couple times so after the game I told myself, ‘I have to change up something,’” said White. “So I ended up shortening my stride and found fastballs early or breaking balls to put the bat on the ball.”

Both teams now head to Atlanta to compete in the 17U WWBA National Championship. The inaugural Ultimate Baseball Championship powered by Baseball America and Perfect Game was filled to the brim with elite talent and nearly all of that will be present during the scouting industry’s crown jewel of the summer that kicks off in Atlanta this Friday.

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