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Tournaments | Championship | 9/28/2020

Two Champs Crowned in Midwest

Cade Schares        
Photo: 29ers Black (Perfect Game)
29ers Black ends up on top in the Upperclass division

MARION, Iowa – The rain did not stop the quest for a title at the Midwest Select Championships on Sunday at Prospect Meadows.

The Upperclass Championship game between the 29ers Black and the Nebraska Prospects 2022 White was largely a contest of timely pitching and great defense. The Prospects struck early on, scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning. The 29ers put themselves in good situations on several occasions but were not able to cash in during the first five innings, leaving five runners in scoring position and the score at 1-0.

The 29ers Black were no strangers to close games, as they won their semi-final game 3-2 and finished in a tie in their first-round game at 1-1. So, when they found themselves in a similar situation on Sunday evening, they didn’t bat an eye.

After three straight walks in the top of the sixth inning (two of which came on full counts after a good battle), Reece Zonts stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and the opportunity to put his team in the lead.

“Reece has been doing a good job for us all year... we put him in good situations to put contact on the baseball, and it was one of those situations where it was his turn to bat and we had a lot of confidence in him,” 29ers head coach Jacob Serrato told PG. “And like he’s been doing all summer and fall long, he made the big hit for us.”

And what a big hit it was for Zonts. With the bases loaded and a 3-2 count, Zonts hit a line drive to right center for a two-RBI double to put his team in the lead. That go-ahead hit, along with five more hits during the weekend, cemented his place as Tournament MVP for the Upperclass division. Zonts would come around to score when the next batter, Brian Donlea, smacked a single to right field and provided what would turn out to be an important insurance run to make it a 3-1 game.

The Prospects would give the 29ers a scare in the bottom of the seventh, getting two runners on base and scoring a run on a routine double play that turned into an error. Fortunately for the Coach Serrato, the 29ers hunkered down and got the last out, securing their spot as Midwest Select Champions.

“This weekend we did a great job top to bottom, defense has been spectacular, pitching has been phenomenal, and we had a couple of bumps in the road but we hung together as a team and fought back as a team,” Coach Serrato concluded.

Cangelosi Sparks North takes the title in the Freshman division

MARION, Iowa – The mood of the Cangelosi Sparks North could not be dampened on Sunday afternoon.

The rain came during their semi-final game, and they quickly found themselves in a 6-0 hole before coming to bat for the first time. Although they were off to a bad start, they didn’t dwell on it for a second. They answered in a big way in the bottom of the first inning, putting up a seven spot.

“We talked about how you’re not going to get six runs in one swing,” said head coach Lee Milano. “We came back with a seven spot and outscored them 16-0 the rest of the game.”

That offensive outburst propelled them to the championship versus Illinois Premier Smith 2024, but they would go on to win this one in a different fashion.

In the second inning, Carter Banister of Illinois Premier crushed a double over the head of the left fielder, resulting in the first run of the game and an early lead for Illinois Premier. The momentum continued in the third when Jackson Smith roped an RBI single to right field to put his team ahead 2-0. Even with the early lead and growing momentum, Cangelosi did not panic. They had been here before.

Nick Dritna led off the bottom of the third for Cangelosi with a single up the middle. His teammate Tommy Clark was issued a walk, which put runners at first and second for Finn Koch, who subsequently bunted for a hit to load the bases. The pressure seemed to get to Illinois Premier, as Dritna and Clark would come around to score thanks to a passed ball and a groundout to second base off the bat of Joshua Wicker.

Small ball is definitely a common theme for Cangelosi, a team who bunted four times and did not collect an RBI base hit in the championship game.

“We work on that all the time, about bunting in certain situations and about hitting in certain situations, and we did a great job of that in this game,” said Milano about his team’s ability to create runs. “We did the little things and the little things win games.”

That fact was exemplified well in the way that Cangelosi scored the game-winning run. It was a tight, 2-2 game until the sixth inning, and neither team was budging. Jackson McCarey led off the bottom of the sixth with single, followed by a Wicker sac bunt to move the runner to second. Cash Campbell hit behind the runner with a ground ball to second base, which put McCarey at third with two outs. McCarey would score three pitches later on a balk to put Cangelosi in the lead.

A one run lead was all that Drtina needed, who pitched the last four innings of shutout ball for Cangelosi. After two strikeouts and a groundout to second in the top of the seventh, Cangelosi earned the title of Midwest Select Champions.

“We stepped up in a big way... Nick came up really big at the end, he did an unbelievable job and gave us 4 shutdown innings, but it was 1 through 14, everybody contributed in a certain way,” Milano concluded.
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