Iowa Select Dubuque takes home Underclass title
MARION, Iowa – It took an all-out effort over two days of grinding baseball but Iowa Select Dubuque managed to keep the championship trophy from the Perfect Game Underclass Midwest Select Championship within Iowa’s borders Sunday afternoon.
The Select Dubuque team used nine hits to push across four runs – one in the bottom of the second and three in the bottom of the third – and made them hold-up in a 4-2 victory of the Nebraska Prospects 2022 White in the championship game played at the Prospect Meadows Sports Complex.
The event was shortened to two very long days after Friday’s scheduled games were postponed by rain. Iowa Select Dubuque 2022 went 1-0-1 during Saturday’s pool-play to earn the No. 7 seed in the playoffs then won quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games on Sunday to finish 4-0-1 and take home the title.
“They played really well; they got better as the weekend went on,” Select Dubuque head coach Eric Munson said Sunday. “The first day they were a little flat – they really didn’t swing the bats – but today the bats came alive and we swung the bats really well; we saw some good pitching, too.”
The Prospects 2022 White were the 10-team playoffs’ No. 8 seed after splitting their two pool-play games on Saturday and finished 3-2-0 after winning 2-of-3 on Sunday.
The boys from Nebraska jumped to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first in this one thanks to walks to Brody Brown and Brock Nielsen, a wild pitch and an RBI single from Blake Waring, But that’s all they could do against a pair of Iowa Select pitchers.
Solen Munson, a 2023 righthander and Eric’s son, allowed the two runs on two hits with seven strikeouts and three walks over five innings of work. 2023 righty Cal Sullivan worked the last two perfect innings, striking out two.
The Select Dubuque 2022 scored a single run in the bottom of the second on the strength of lead-off single from Ethan Patterson, a walk to Ethan Hefel and a sac fly from Maddux Frese.
Dylan Martin, Solen Munson and Luke Bohonek hit consecutive singles to lead off the bottom of the third, and Martin scored when Cole Swartz was hit by a pitch. Sam Skarich then delivered an RBI single to the plate, Munson and Bohonek scored from third when a play was made on Skarich as he stole second; that completed the game’s scoring.
Munson finished with a pair of singles, a double and a run scored to lead Iowa Select’s nine-hit attack; both Patterson and Martin singled twice, drove in a run and scored another. Everyone, it seemed, rose to the challenge.
“Sometimes there are different situations that get you going but we just play and have fun so it’s pretty easy,” Munson said. “When you have fun things go well. … We’re very close and everybody’s a good player. We can all do pretty much everything; we can all pitch, we can all hit. We’re good teammates to each other and we have a lot of fun.”
Munson, a primary catcher, was named Most Valuable Player thanks largely to his performance in the championship game. He finished the tournament 5-for-8 (.625) with a double, an RBI and five runs scored to go with his spectacular outing from the mound on Sunday.
Teammate Ethan Hefel, a 2022 right-hander but a primary third baseman, worked five innings of three-hit, six-strikeout ball earlier in the weekend and was named MV Pitcher.
Eric Munson – who the Tigers used the third overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft on and who played parts of nine seasons in the big leagues – had a 15-player roster at this tournament and needed them all while playing 21 innings of playoff baseball on Sunday. Every one of them wants to be out there for every inning, of course, but that can become a juggling act at times.
“Our guys did a great job of staying focused even when they weren’t playing,” Munson said. “We used everybody and it took all of them to come out and play three games today. They did a great job; I was really proud of them.”
The Select Dubuque and the Prospects White both made it to the championship game by winning their respective quarterfinal and semifinal games earlier in the day on Sunday.
Iowa Select got the ball rolling by getting past the No. 2 29ers Baseball 2022 Black out of Illinois, 7-5, in the quarters then steamrolled its brethren from the Iowa Select Obermuller 2022, 13-1, in the semis.
The Nebraska Prospects knocked-off the top-seeded St. Louis Pirates 2022, 7-1, in their quarterfinal pairing before outlasting No. 4 Illinois-based CGB, 13-5 in its semifinal matchup.
“Our pitching really was good all weekend; it always starts there for me with pitching and defense,” coach Munson concluded. “We caught the ball; we did a great job of keeping the other team to a minimum and they really didn’t have big innings against us. Our bats came alive today and that was good timing but yesterday for sure was pitching and defense.”
Sparks North-Black end up on top at Sophomore MW Select
MARION, Iowa – Late Sunday afternoon while playing in the semifinal round of the playoffs at the Perfect Game Sophomore Midwest Select Championship, the Cangelosi Sparks North-Black found themselves in a bit of a jam.
They were trailing the upstart Angels, a team out of Parker, Colo., and very much an unknown in this neck of the woods, by a 4-3 count after 5½ innings and were in danger of having their hopes of claiming a PG tournament championship go by the wayside.
Never fear. With nobody out in the bottom of the sixth, Patrick Carmody smacked a two-run single and John Phillip Ferraro delivered a sac fly, all part of a four-run frame that also included two walks, a hit batsman and a fielding error that eventually led to a 7-4 victory.
Just a few hours later, that scene unfolded again.
Trailing the 29ers Baseball 2023 Black by an 8-3 count after four complete innings, the Sparks North-Black responded with a six-run top of the fifth and went on to beat the 29ers 2023 Black, 10-8, in the Sophomore MW Select championship game at the Prospect Meadows Sports Complex.
“They never gave up and the biggest thing is you can’t teach that,” Sparks North-Black co-coach Josh Caceres told PG at the conclusion of the championship game. “No matter how much you want to coach kids, it comes from intrinsic motivation to get the best out of them and they do that. I say a few words but they go out and actually do it.”
This was a close affair early with the 29ers Baseball Black leading just 4-3 at the end of the third. They had built that lead thanks to a three-run first in which Tanner Mally hit a lead-off single, Mackie Resetich came through with an RBI double and Beau Honeycutt delivered a two-run single.
They then put a 4-spot on the board in the bottom of the fourth in a frame highlighted by singles from Cole Kratzberg and Cody Kufrin, along with several more walks.
The turning point for Cangelosi came in the decisive fifth when they pushed six runs across thanks to a single off the bat Joey Ward, an RBI single from Jack Gooch, an RBI fielders’ choice groundout from Carmody and four walks, three of which came with the bases loaded.
The Sparks finished with seven hits, a total that included five singles and two doubles. Tyler O'Connor doubled, drove in two runs and scored one; Troy Stukenberg doubled with an RBI and two scored; Noah Caceres and Gooch both singled and drove in a pair.
The 29ers Baseball 2023 Black totaled eight hits – seven singles and a double – and were led Mally and Kufrin, both of whom singled twice, drove in a run and scored another; Honeycutt singled and drove in two.
Sparks North-Black 2023 infielder O'Connor collected four hits over the weekend including two doubles and a triple, drove in 10 runs and scored four others and finished with a 0.945 OPS on his way to earning MV Player honors. Teammate Calvin Proskey, a 2023 righthander, pitched five shutout, three-hit, 11-strikeout innings and was named MV Pitcher.
The No. 3-seeded 29ers (4-1-0) opened play Sunday with an 8-0 win over the No. 6 St. Louis Pirates 2023 in the quarterfinals before escaping the No. 2 Illinois Lightning-Hart, 3-2, in the semis.
The No. 5 Cangelosi Sparks North-Black (5-0-0) blasted No. 4 The Replacements, 12-3, in the quarters before rallying for the win over the Colorado Angels in the semifinal round. After 21 innings on a beautiful late summer day in Eastern Iowa, the Sparks were champions.
“Keepin’ it loose is the biggest thing; don’t take yourself too seriously,” Caceres said. “We were down by (five) runs in this game and I told them that I understand it’s three games that we’ve played today but we didn’t come this far from Chicago to lose this way so let’s go. They have their own leaders and they build the team up and they do their work.”