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Tournaments | Story | 6/20/2021

Florida Rebels Perfect So Far at 18u BCS

Sam Warren        
Photo: Michael Doyle (Perfect Game)
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While the 2021 PG 18u BCS National Championship draws some of the most talented and successful teams from around the country to compete, few rosters have been as successful as the Florida Rebels this summer.
 
The Sarasota, Fla.-based squad is undefeated so far this season, compiling a 10-0-0 record across two Perfect Game events this summer. After dominating the 2021 PG East Memorial Day Classic, blowing through the tournament on their way to a 7-0 record and a championship victory, the Rebels have continued their winning ways into the BCS, going 3-0 with a +17 run differential through pool play. While head coach Shawn Sprague is happy with his team’s current hot streak, he knows that the road gets more challenging as the team ventures into ranked play.
 
“It’s tougher from here on out,” Sprague said. “Everyone is gunning to take down someone who is undefeated. We just have to play our game and go out there and have fun to keep this up.”
 
The Rebels started off the tournament by handling Precision Patriots 18u Penna on Friday morning, mercy-ruling them 10-0 in five innings. Brady Jernigan and Caden Marsters showed out against the Patriots, each delivering two hits and driving home two runs apiece. John McCormick also dominated on the mound, earning every out via the strikeout (9) and allowing just one baserunner through three innings. Camden Sprague then came on in relief, striking out two in two innings and combining with McCormick for a no-hitter.
 
In their next matchup on Friday, the Rebels cruised again, defeating Marucci Elite Texas 18u Mayo, 6-1. Marsters and Luke Ridley provided the offensive firepower against Marucci, as Ridley kicked off the scoring with a bases-loaded three-RBI double in the second and Marsters with a two-RBI double in the third. The Rebels dominated again on the mound, as Ashton Fedorek struck out five through two innings of work, along with Mason Janz and Joseph Phan doing solid work out of the bullpen. Heading into Saturday, Shawn wanted to continue to see his team improve, despite their early success.
 
“We want to get better in every game that we play,” Sprague said. “There’s something to learn from every game. We’re doing the little things well right now, and hopefully, we keep doing them.”
 
However, the Rebels found themselves in a hole early in their only game on Saturday as the Vipers Baseball Club jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. 
 
That hole didn’t last for long, though, as Camden Sprague lined a single to center and then advanced into scoring position on a poor back pick attempt. Ryan Waldschmidt then delivered for the Rebels, drilling an RBI triple off the wall in left-center to even the game at one. As he stepped to the plate, the Charleston Southern commit said he kept his approach simple to put his squad back in the game.
 
“I went up there looking for the fastball and adjusting to anything off-speed,” Waldschmidt said. “I wanted something middle-in that I could take back up the middle, and I got the pitch I wanted and was able to come through.”
 
Despite the early commotion, both offenses fell dormant through the top of the fourth inning. The Rebel bats were determined to change that in the bottom of the inning, as Sprague led off by knocking a hard ground ball to second and reaching on an error. After stealing second and third, Sprague was in prime position for Rebel starting pitcher Michael Doyle to provide some run support of his own. Doyle proceeded to drill a ball to third base, inducing a Viper error and scoring Sprague, giving the Rebels their first lead of the game. Waldschmidt attributes his team’s ability to come back from a deficit to their camaraderie and confidence in each other.
 
“A lot of us, we’ve played together for five, six years now, so we all have trust in each other,” Waldschmidt said. “That’s really what it comes down to. Nobody feels like they have to do too much. They know the next guy behind them has their back. As long as we pass the bats and get on base, we’re going to score runs.”
 
While the game remained close, the Rebel offense distanced themselves in the fifth. After Janz reached and advanced to second on two separate fielder’s choices, Waldschmidt delivered a two-out RBI double to right-center, scoring Janz. Waldschmidt then promptly stole third, allowing him to score easily on a Dylan McGarry single. A series of walks then plated McGarry before the inning ended, giving the Rebels a 5-1 lead.
 
After a bumpy start in the first, Doyle settled into his own as the game progressed. Through the next five innings, Doyle blanked the Vipers, striking out two and allowing just four baserunners. Doyle ran into some more trouble in the seventh, allowing one run, but closed out the complete game for the Rebels, finishing off a 5-2 victory for the squad. While he was hesitant at first, Sprague was incredibly proud of how his pitcher battled and gutted out a victory.
 
“When Michael first went out there, I didn’t think he was going to make it past the second inning,” Sprague said. “But he kept getting more efficient as he went on and was able to turn it around, so we let him ride for the rest of the day. He didn’t start strong, but he finished out great.”

Heading into ranked play, the Rebels will look to continue their winning ways Father’s Day morning as they take on Gametime Prospects 18u Black and SWFL 18u in their two games on the day. While the ultimate goal is to win a championship, Sprague wants his players to enjoy their last ride together before they venture into college ball.
 
“The biggest thing for these boys is to go out there and have fun,” Sprague said. “Some of these kids have known each other since they were eight years old. It’s the last time they are going to be together on the field, so they’ve just got to go out there and let it go.”
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