Tournaments | Story | 6/21/2021

National Select Crowns Three Champs

Matthew Welsh        
Photo: Canes American 16u (Perfect Game)
MARIETTA, Ga. -- Canes American 16u took home the inaugural National Select Championship in a thrilling 5-4 affair against the Cincinnati Spikes on Sunday, at a rainy TOP Chops East Cobb Complex in Marietta, Ga.
It was Daylinh Nguyen-Brown’s sixth inning RBI single that was the deciding factor in a game that saw three lead changes through a full seven innings of action. With runners on second and third and title rights hanging in the balance, the speedy righty stepped into the box and sent a line drive into right field that evaded the Spikes’ diving first baseman and plated a runner from third.
“I just wanted to be calm and do my job,” Brown said of his thoughts during the at-bat. “I got a pitch to hit, and I just went with it and got a big hit. It feels great, and was really just an energy booster, I think for the whole team.”
Up a run exiting the frame, the Canes went on to secure their first tournament championship in their second try of the summer and etched their names as the event’s first ever 16u champs.
But their win was not always so certain. Despite opening the scoring in the bottom of the first inning following a fielder’s choice, the Canes found themselves down 3-1 entering the third inning. Wild pitches and passed balls were an issue for the pitching staff on turf that had witnessed nearly 24 hours of constant rain.
Then in the bottom of the third came Cameron Nelson for the Canes. He took advantage of earlier-inning pitching inconsistencies and singled home Brown, who had reached on a walk two batters earlier. Koy Swanson followed Nelson with an RBI hit of his own, sending a double to the left field wall. 
Through three the Spikes had assumed a two-run lead, but Canes fought back to even the score at three apiece with four innings still to play. 
Nelson was not only a valuable hitter in the game, but also flashed his talents on the mound, carrying his team as their third arm of the game, for 4 2/3 innings. Nelson stopped the bleeding from the game’s first two innings and allowed only one run and one hit from the third inning on. 
“For me, I just need to be able to attack, that was one main thing that I kept reminding myself out there, especially with my fastball,” Nelson said. “My off-speed was there sometimes, but I knew with my fastball, I had to locate, and like I said, just attack.”
Even in the last half inning of the game, the Canes had to work for their hardware. Following a two-out error and subsequent walk, Nelson found himself in a jam with runners on the corners, just one out away from history.
But with nobody warming, it was the Wake Forest commit’s game to finish. And end it he did, when he forced the following hitter to ground into a tournament-sealing ground ball to third base.
“I’m just going out there and playing ball, taking deep breaths and reminding myself that it’s me out here on the mound and that I can control the game,” Nelson said. 
Sunday’s final was not the only close game the Canes found themselves in this week. Three of their four playoff games, including the championship, were decided by two runs or less. But for Nelson and his team, that is just a testament to their scrappy attitude and never-give-up mentality against particularly stiff competition.
“We were competing all weekend,” Nelson said. “I know the first day we got a loss, but right after that, we were able to bounce back and compete again. We just kept our energy up, that was something that we did really well. All weekend, energy was definitely the full-on drive.”
Solely from the batter’s box, Brown too noticed a team aura and concentration during every pitch, that had extended from pool play to Sunday. The game-winner, currently ranked as a ‘high follow’ on Perfect Game’s national ranking composite, is positive that attitude will endure throughout the season. 
“The boys never really stayed down even though we got down a few times, and we just made our way back. It was a great team effort, and I think we just keep going. I mean, this was our second tournament and we got a win, but next we’ll be trying to get another one.”
The Canes will begin their Perfect Game title defense on June 26, when they travel to Hoover, Ala. to take part in the 16u National Elite Championship. Their following contests also include the 16u WWBA National Championship and Perfect Game 16u World Series. 
It’s one thing to be a highly-ranked team entering the height of the season, but exiting this weekend with tangible proof to back that ranking, is something not many teams can claim.
“People are going to have a target on us now since we’ve won this tournament. They’re going to be coming after us, so we need to keep the same intensity.”

Canes' Brayden Buchanan was named the MVP of the 16u event, as he hit .471 with six runs scored and another seven driven in throughout the course of the tournament. He also contributed five scoreless innings on the mound with five strikeouts.

Griffen Paige, pitching for the Cincinnati Spikes, was the MV-Pitcher, as he threw eight scoreless innings across two appearances with seven strikeouts compared to only one walk.

Perfect Game 15u National Select Championship

Canes Florida 2024 pulled away and won the 15u title at the inaugural Perfect Game National Select Championship against Diamond Gold on Sunday, by a score of 9-0.

A seven-run fifth inning ended the drama in the championship game, as Canes held a slim 2-0 leading into the frame. All seven runs were scored with two outs, with Anthony Tralongo starting the scoring with an RBI single and Jason Bello busting the game wide open with a bases-clearing three-RBI double two batters later.

Bello also toed the rubber for Canes in the title game, tossing all five scoreless innings, striking out two and working around five walks with a fastball that touched 85 mph.

Riley Luft, who walked twice and scored in the championship game, was named the MVP of the 15u bracket for his work. Luft hit .636 and drove in 11 runs at the National Select Championship, while also tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

Diamond Gold's Carson Hoffmeister won MV-Pitcher honors, as he threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings across two outings, striking out seven and allowing only one hit.

Perfect Game 14u National Select Championship

Hunter Richardson went the distance on the mound for Wow Factor 14u - National Black in the championship game of the 14u National Select Championship, besting GBG San Diego 14u by a score of 5-2.

It took Richardson only 90 pitches to complete his outing, relying on his defense throughout the championship game to make plays behind him.

A Quinn Bentley two-RBI double in the bottom of the third got Wow Factor on the board, and base hits by Hunter McLemore, Thomas O'Connell, and Eric Fleetwood helped push across three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to close out the scoring for Wow Factor.

Bentley, who hit .643 for the tournament with six runs, six RBI, and four doubles, was named the MVP.

Richardson's work on the mound in the title game helped earn him MV-Pitcher honors. He threw a total of 11 2/3 scoreless innings across three outings during the tournament, striking out nine total.

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