Tournaments : : Story
Friday, June 10, 2011

A's dig themselves out of a hole

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

MARIETTA, Ga. – About 15 minutes before the Arlington A’s were to begin their second pool-play game at the 17u/18u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational Friday afternoon, several team members gathered on the left field grass, got down on a knee, and said a short prayer.

It was a telling moment, perhaps. Then again, it looked more like something the A’s do before the first-pitch of every ballgame. But the fact is, the Arlington A’s came into their second game of the tournament against the Bama Starz in a pretty big hole.

Considered one of the pre-tournament favorites to at least make the 12-team playoff field, the A’s got pummeled in their first pool-play game, 13-1, by TGBA 17u. A second loss Friday afternoon to the Bama Starz would almost certainly guarantee elimination from the tournament regardless of the outcome of their final pool game Sunday.

By the time the Arlington, Texas-based A’s played the Starz, four teams in the 17u/18u field – the MVP Expos, East Cobb Cubs 18u, Music City Classics 17u and East Cobb Reds – had already lost their second games in the tournament.

“It’s such a grind and we want to come out and have a better showing, obviously,” Arlington Coach Andy Adams said before the game at the East Cobb Complex. “We’ve only played one weekend so far this summer and everybody’s still trying to get comfortable and settle-in and learn their roles a little bit. We just need to go out and compete and do what we can.”

While Adams spoke, dozens of young coaches wearing shirts displaying the logos of prestigious baseball universities such as Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU milled about between the three main fields at the East Cobb Complex.

The Arlington A’s roster consists almost entirely of high school seniors-to-be in the fall, and none have a college commitment listed next to their names.

“We want to get them some experience and get them use to playing at a high level,” Adams said when asked why he brought the team to the tournament. “And we want to get the guys some (college) looks at the same time.”

The Arlington A’s are an older organization when compared with many other organizations that have sprung up just in the last decade or so. The A’s have been around for just more the 20 years, rivaling some of the more veteran organizations in the country.

“We’ve had a long history of trying to put guys in at the next level,” Adams said, noting the A’s organization has 13 teams, most of them for high school-age players.

The Arlington A’s have been participating in Perfect Game events for the past four or five years, according to Adams, including one trip to the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., and several trips to the PG WWBA National Championships, which are held here at the East Cobb Complex.

A conflict is going to keep the A’s away from the WWBA National this year and that’s why they elected to make the trip to East Cobb this week.

The rest of the summer will be more of the same.

“We’ll be playing pretty much every weekend and we’ll be traveling quite a bit,” Adams said. “This is our first trip out of town and we’ll be all over the state of Texas, pretty much corner to corner.”

Where ever the Arlington A’s play, they will hope to avoid losing the first pool-play game and playing the second day in a deep hole. Sometimes teams can bounce back from that, sometimes they can’t.

On this day, the A’s lived to fight valiantly again. After trailing the Starz, 2-0, at the end of two, Arlington rallied for two runs in each of the third and fourth innings to pull out a 4-2 win. The A’s play winless East Cobb Cubs 18U for a possible playoff berth Sunday afternoon.

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