Tournaments | Story | 8/1/2020

Canes Midwest Wins the Battle for the Midwest

Nate Schweers        
Photo: Canes Midwest (Perfect Game)
MARION, Iowa – The Canes Midwest took home the inaugural PG Battle for the Midwest on Friday, knocking off Team Ohio Pro Select 6-2 in a championship game that needed extra innings to crown a winner.

After seven innings of tightly-contested baseball, the pair of elite teams in the region found themselves locked into one of the better back-and-forth contests of the week. The Canes had jumped out to an early lead before allowing Team Ohio back in it late.

With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth, the Canes were able to scratch across three runs without the ball leaving the infield. Third baseman Kyler McIntosh laid down a beautiful squeeze bunt to score the first runner, while Darien Pugh and Eli Watson were able to cross home plate on a walk and wild pitch respectively.

The fourth run of the inning scored on a Mason David single to left field, and the Canes had created all the separation they needed to head home with a hard-fought win.

“These guys really just have another switch,” said Canes Midwest head coach Jay Hundley. “They are one of those groups that if someone pushes them into a bad situation they just respond. It was fitting for them to end their season and careers with winning this tournament the way they did, because that is what they have always done.”

Before heading into the fireworks in extra innings, the Canes and Team Ohio Pro Select had been locked in quite the pitcher’s duel. Ohio starter and Michigan commit Tyler Fullman dazzled through the first four, running the fastball up to 92 mph and working through some trouble as well.

For the Canes, tournament MV-Pitcher Holden Groher came through with yet another big-time performance on the mound. The uncommitted righthander tossed 5 1/3 innings of shutout baseball on Friday, striking out six and allowing just three hits to a very dangerous opposing lineup. Groher’s performance coupled with a couple really good innings at the front-end of the tournament helped earn him the prestigious award.

“We knew that if we ran into those guys [Team Ohio Pro Select] that we were going to have to throw somebody that could keep them off-balance. He spins it really well and commands the strike zone which was big against a group like that.”

On the other side of the ball, the tournament’s MVP was Michigan commit Camden Gasser. Gasser’s impact was felt both at the plate and defensively throughout the tournament, something Hundley says can go unnoticed at times with the athletic shortstop.

“You don’t really see it until you play with him, but he is always high energy and is always ready to go. He puts the ball in play, he puts pressure on teams, and he has certainly been a captain and leader. More than anything it is by his positive energy and the good attitude he always has.

Ranked as a Top 500 player in the 2021 class, Gasser is an MVP today and part of a Michigan recruiting class that has a chance to be really special.

Something that was different at the PG Battle for the Midwest was a format that mimicked a regional in the NCAA Division 1 Baseball Tournament. The 16 teams were separated into four, double-elimination regions, all vying for a spot in Friday’s single-elimination semi’s and championship.

“The format is something we really loved,” said Hundley. “For us, there is no better way to end the season than to play with all these teams from different areas. Having to win right out of  the gate and having to use arms make it really fun.”

Until next year, the Canes Midwest group will hold the title of Battle for the Midwest champions; however, if year one proved anything, this group will have to come back fully-loaded in year two to reclaim their crown.
 Give us your feedback
Copyright 1994-2020 by Perfect Game. All rights reserved. No portion of this information may be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of Perfect Game.